This Lemon Chicken recipe is an easy and ultra flavorful chicken dish, with sweet, tart, crispy lemon sugar skin, and buttery pan juices engulfing every nook and cranny!
My husband and I affectionately refer to this Lemon Chicken recipe as “crack chicken” because you can’t stop eating it, no matter how full you are.
Like some of my favorite movies I have memorized word for word, I have made this chicken dish so many times that I no longer refer to the recipe.
You must make it. NOW. You really must.
Ingredients for this Lemon Chicken
You only need a handful of ingredients and chances are you already have them!
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Bone-in Chicken (legs and thighs)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Canola Oil
- Kosher Salt and Pepper
Can I use Boneless, Skinless Chicken Instead?
I have never made this dish with anything other than bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and legs, so I can’t personally vouch for the results, but a few people have said they used chicken breasts with great results (read the reviews below), so you could try it!
Can I skip the sugar?
Technically, yes. BUT I highly encourage you to leave it in. It’s really one of the things that makes this chicken recipe so special.
The skin ends up crispy, with a perfect balance of sweet flavor from the sugar and tartness from the lemon zest. And the smooth, buttery pan juices engulf every nook and cranny, keeping the meat moist.
Video: How to Make Lemon Chicken
What to Serve with Lemon Chicken
Other Chicken Recipes We Love
Balsamic Lemon Chicken
- 8 pieces chicken (legs and thighs, skin on, bone-in)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 lemons , zested, 1 juiced, and the other cut into wedges
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided
- roasted green vegetable , for serving
- Prick the chicken pieces all over with a fork and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar with half of the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Mix the sugar with the remaining lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, and place chicken skin-side-down in the pan along with the remaining marinade. Cook until the chicken is browned on one side, 3 to 4 minutes, and then flip each piece over and cook 1 minute more.
- Sprinkle the lemon sugar over the chicken and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until chicken is completely cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 F, about 25 minutes.
- Remove chicken from oven – careful! handle will be hot! – Cut remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and scatter around chicken. Pour lemon juice over everything. Once butter is melted, serve with pan sauce drizzled over the chicken and lemon wedges on the side.