Lemon Basil Chicken

Lemon Basil Chicken Breasts
Grilled Lemon Basil Chicken Breasts. Diana Rattray
  • 27 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 12 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings
Ratings (32)

Here's a simple chicken recipe flavored with a quick marinade of garlic, lemon, and basil. These tasty grilled or broiled chicken breasts are great with rice, pasta, or baked potatoes.

The garlic and lemon flavors stand out, and the basil not only adds flavor, but it adds color to the dish. If you don't have fresh basil, use dried leaf basil. Fresh chopped chives or parsley could be substituted.

A fresh basil pesto would be an excellent sauce to serve with the chicken. I've included a quick recipe below the chicken instructions.

Related Recipe: Basil Chicken With Pesto Cream Sauce

What You'll Need

  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves, without skin
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil, or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • juice of 2 lemons, or about 1/3 cup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • fresh basil or fresh parsley for garnish

How to Make It

  1. Put a chicken breast in a small plastic food storage bag and gently pound to an even thickness using the smooth side of a meat tenderizer or similar tool. Or, place a chicken breast on the counter and place a piece of plastic wrap on it. Pound it gently to an even thickness.  Repeat with all of the chicken breasts. Alternatively -- especially if the chicken breasts are large -- carefully slice each of chicken breast horizontally to make two cutlets.
  1. Combine the basil, lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped garlic in a plastic food storage bag or container; add the chicken breasts and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Heat a clean, oiled grill rack over medium-high heat (about 375° F to 425° F), or heat the oiled rack of a broiler pan. 
  3. Arrange chicken over direct heat on the hot grill or broiler rack and grill or broil for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning frequently. Chicken must be cooked to the minimum safe temperature of 165° F (74° C). To be sure, check with an instant-read thermometer.
  4. Serve with fresh basil leaves or parsley, if desired.

Serves 4.

Basic Basil and Garlic Pesto

If you have an abundance of basil, make a fresh basil pesto to serve with the chicken.

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a food processor, working in two or three batches, pulse the basil until the leaves are chopped.  Add the chopped garlic and 1/4 cup of pine nuts and pulse about 6 times. Add half of olive oil and pulse until blended. With the processor running, pour the remaining olive oil into the processor in a steady stream. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese and process until blended. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.

Expert Tips

  • Pounding the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness means they will cook evenly. If you don't pound them you could end up with dry chicken, because while the thinner part will be done, it will take longer to cook the thicker parts.

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