Easy Baked Lemon Garlic Chicken

A platter of baked lemon chicken with lemon slices.

Want an easy lemon garlic chicken for quick weeknight dinners? Start with this simple lemon chicken marinade and let the chicken pieces soak up all the zippy flavors. The whole family will love this juicy baked lemon chicken recipe.

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Ingredients for lemon garlic marinade.

Lately, we’re eating a lot of chicken and this lemon chicken marinade has become one of our favorites for seasoning chicken pieces. We love the tangy punch of citrus from fresh lemon zest and juice, along with pungent garlic and fresh oregano.

I like to serve this lemon garlic chicken with side dishes like mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, steamed rice or rice pilaf, simple but tasty veggies like tomatoes provençal, creamed spinach or brussels sprouts or even just a simple green salad.

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Why you’ll love this lemon chicken recipe

  • It’s bright and flavorful with a great mix of fresh seasonings.
  • This lemon chicken marinade can be used on any type of chicken pieces or boneless skinless breasts, thighs etc.
  • The lemon garlic chicken only needs to marinate for 1-2 hours before baking (or grilling).
  • Kids love the lemon garlic marinade on thighs and drumsticks.
  • It’s simple to make and you probably already have the ingredients.
  • After marinating, the baked lemon chicken is ready to eat in about 40-45 minutes.
  • Leftovers are great served cold, straight from the refrigerator.

What you’ll need for my lemon garlic chicken:

  • Garlic – I recommend chopping it fresh for the best flavor.
  • Lemon – you need the juice and zest for this baked chicken.
  • Black Pepper – fresh ground will give you the most flavor.
  • Kosher Salt – I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, which is less salty by volume than Morton’s. If you use Morton’s, you may want to use a tad less.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – for a little spicy kick.
  • Honey – Adds a hint of sweetness to balance the flavors.
  • Olive Oil – You don’t need fancy finishing oils, just your everyday oil.
  • Fresh Greek Oregano – fresh oregano has a robust, intense flavor. You won’t need a lot.
  • Fresh Parsley – you can also use dried.
  • Cut Up Chicken Pieces or (Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts or Thighs)
Assembling the lemon garlic marinade in a bowl.

How to make lemon garlic marinade and baked chicken

  1. Combine garlic, lemon zest, kosher salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil in a small bowl. Mix well to combine.
  2. Transfer the chicken to a zip-top storage bag and pour marinade over the chicken. Press the air out of the bag and seal it, then massage it so the meat is well coated with the lemon chicken marinade.
  3. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, turning once or twice, for the lemon garlic marinade to soak into the chicken pieces and tenderize it.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (for easier cleanup) and rest a wire baking rack over the foil. Lightly spray the rack with vegetable spray.
  5. Arrange the chicken pieces on the rack (so they don’t touch).
  6. For bone-in skin on lemon-marinated chicken, bake for 20 minutes. Use tongs to flip each piece and bake for another 20 minutes. Flip the chicken once more and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the juices run clear.
  7. For boneless skinless breasts or thighs, skip the wire rack and place the lemon-marinated chicken directly on the pan. Bake the chicken for 18-20 minutes or until the juices in the meat run clear.
adding garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice to the bowl.

If you don’t want to heat up the kitchen with a hot oven, it’s easy to make lemon chicken on the grill.

How to grill lemon garlic chicken pieces:

  1. Preheat the grill to 425°. Lightly pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel before grilling.
  2. Grill the bone in, skin on chicken pieces skin side down for about 8 minutes, then flip them over and cook for an additional 8 minutes.
  3. Flip the lemon marinated chicken again, turning them 90° to give them a cross hatch look.
  4. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes until the meat registers 165° on an instant read thermometer (I like the Thermoworks Thermapen 1 Instant Read Thermometer and I’m an affiliate for them so you can take advantage of special discounts).
  5. Let the chicken rest for about 5-8 minutes before serving so the juices can resettle in the flesh.
adding chopped oregano to the marinade.


Don’t marinate the chicken for a longer period (like all day or overnight). Letting the chicken marinate too long in the citrus juices can actually have a negative impact, turning the flesh stringy or even mushy.

For the best flavor, marinate the lemon garlic chicken for as little as one hour or up to three hours.

Swaps and variations for baked lemon chicken

This is a very versatile lemon chicken recipe and you can certainly customize it to make it your own. Here are a few simple variations:

  • Use fresh chopped rosemary and thyme in place of the oregano and parsley. This is more of a French or Italian vibe.
  • Use maple syrup in place of the honey and swap orange zest and juice for the lemon.
  • Make a cilantro lime chicken by swapping out the citrus and herbs.
Marinating chicken in the lemon and garlic mixture.


Can I make the lemon garlic marinade in advance?

You can make it up to a day in advance, but I think the flavors are best when they are very fresh.

Can I marinate the chicken overnight?

No. I would recommend marinating the chicken no more than 3 hours. Citrus juices can make meat tough and stringy if they’re soaked too long.

Can I use dried oregano?

Dried oregano won’t have the same pungent flavor as fresh, so I’d really recommend it if you can get some — or substitute fresh Marjoram instead. If you are going to use dried oregano, make sure it’s not out of date. Use one and a half teaspoons of dried spice and rub it in your hands before adding it to the lemon garlic marinade.

Baking marinated chicken pieces on a wire rack.

This simple baked chicken recipe goes with so many things (another reason we love it). Here are a few more tasty sides that pair beautifully with baked lemon chicken.

What to serve with lemon garlic chicken:

These are my go-to cutting boards and Instant read thermometers. Check them out by clicking the affiliate links below.

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A platter of Baked Lemon Garlic Chicken.
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5 from 5 votes

Lemon Garlic Chicken

This fresh and lively baked lemon chicken is the best. The secret is the lemon garlic marinade made with everyday ingredients. Use bone in or boneless chicken pieces for this lemon garlic chicken recipe.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Condiments, Main Course, Marinade
Cuisine American
Keyword baked chicken, garlic, lemon, marinade
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Egg Free, Gluten-Free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 4


  • 3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 2 lemons zested
  • ¼ cup lemon juice from zested lemons
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs or other chicken pieces (breasts, legs, wings, etc.)


  • In a small bowl combine the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, black pepper, kosher salt, crushed red pepper flakes, honey, olive oil, oregano and parsley. Whisk to combine.
  • Place the chicken pieces into a zip top storage bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Press the air out of the bag and seal. Massage the bag to completely coat the chicken pieces well with the lemon marinade.
  • Let the chicken rest for 1-2 hours to soak in the flavors. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 425° F.
  • Position a wire rack over a rimmed sheet pan (to catch any drippings or juices).
  • Place the chicken pieces on the wire rack (not touching) and bake for 35-40 minutes. Flip the chicken halfway through baking.
  • Pro-tip: Bake the chicken skin side down to start, then flip to skin side up at the halfway point to brown and crisp the skin if using bone-in skin-on chicken.
  • Sprinkle with extra parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice to serve.
  • Chicken can be served hot or chilled for a picnic.


Note: Depending on your chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, legs or wings and whether or not they are bone-in, skin on or boneless, skinless, the baking times may vary.
To be sure the chicken is completely cooked, check doneness either with an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat (but not touching the bone).
It should read 165° or take it out at 160° and let it rest for 10 minutes. The chicken will continue cooking even once you’ve removed it from the oven.


Calories: 496kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 694mg | Potassium: 359mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 447IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic.

    I’ll definitely make this again.

  2. 5 stars
    This has become our weeknight staple. It’s so juicy, tender and delicious and we love the lemony marinade.

  3. 5 stars
    Perfectly delicious and so easy. Served it with basmati rice and veggies. Husband’s comment, “You were right, Lisa’s recipes do not disappoint!”