Lemon Chicken and Rice

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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This Lemon Chicken & Rice Skillet is a one-pan dinner that is packed with delicious, robust flavor AND will save you dishes!

lemon chicken and rice skillet

One Pan Chicken and Rice

I love the idea that you can take out a SINGLE skillet, and with a strategic cooking sequence, have a fabulous, complete dinner. The secret to the success of this lemon chicken & rice skillet? Cracking the code on getting the rice cooked in the same skillet. This recipe is easy to follow, and the best part (second to only one pan to wash) is that most of the cooking time is hands-off! The end result is a simply cooked, lemony chicken breast and perfectly seasoned rice.

Lemon Chicken Rice Ingredients

You don't need a lot of fancy ingredients to make this one pan skillet. Here's what you'll use:

  • Butter or Olive Oil – you'll use 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil to sear your chicken.
  • Chicken Breast – 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast are the main star of the dish.
  • Sea Salt – a ½ teaspoon of sea salt creates the base of flavor for your seasoning.
  • Garlic Powder – 1 teaspoon of garlic powder in addition to the salt simply seasons your chicken.
  • Rice – 1 cup of white rice (I used Basmati) is used for the starch component of the dish.
  • Chicken Broth – 1 ¾ cup of chicken broth is the perfect amount of liquid to get your rice cooked and keep the dish moist.
  • Fresh Thyme – 4 sprigs of fresh thyme give a delicious pop of herby flavor plus additional for garnish
  • Lemon – you'll need 2 lemons to add a citrus note and garnish your dish (juice from one, the other sliced).

Ingredient Modifications

This dish is simple and delicious on its own, but here are some ideas of substitutions you can make:

  • Use chicken thighs – if you prefer a dark meat, substitute for 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of the chicken breast.
  • Use a different herb – fresh sage, rosemary, or tarragon would also be delicious if you don't have thyme. Even better, use a combination of fresh herbs to add a more complex herb-flavor.
lemon chicken and rice skillet

What does lemon juice do to a skillet chicken and rice?

The lemon juice in this chicken and rice skillet serves a couple purposes. First, it adds a bright, acidic flavor and helps enhance the flavor of the chicken and rice. Lemon juice also serves as a meat tenderizer and helps keep the chicken tender and moist when cooking.

Does lemon juice soften chicken?

The acidity in lemon juice gently breaks down protein fibers in meat while it cooks, resulting in a moist and flavorful chicken breast.

How to make Lemon One Pan Chicken and Rice

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As promised, this recipe comes together in just over 30 minutes and is mostly hands off. Here's how you'll make your skillet:

  1. Season the chicken – season the chicken with salt and garlic powder on both sides.
  2. Heat the butter or oil – melt the butter (or olive oil) in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Sear the chicken – once melted/heated, add the chicken. Sear for 3-4 minutes per side, until browned, then remove from the skillet and set aside.
  4. Add rice – add the rice to the skillet over medium-high heat and stir. Cook 1-2 minutes until toasted. It will give off a slightly nutty aroma at this point.
  5. Add the broth – to the skillet with the rice, add the broth and whisk to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, cover, and cook – once the rice is boiling, give it a final stir, add the thyme sprigs, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken – after 10 minutes has passed, remove the lid from the pot, stir the lemon juice into the rice, and place the chicken breasts and lemon slices on top of the rice.
  8. Cover and cook – cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and garnish with extra thyme.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

What is the correct way to cook rice in a skillet?

The best way to cook rice in a skillet is the bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and let the rice cook. It's best to let the rice simmer and steam over low heat. This recipe breaks up the cooking time into two parts (the first 10 minutes to soften the rice and get the cooking started, the second 10 minutes to impart the additional lemon flavor and finish cooking the chicken by steaming it in the rice).

lemon chicken and rice skillet

What is the correct ratio of broth to rice?

I find that the 1 cup of rice and 1 ¾ cup of broth is the perfect ratio for this recipe and the basmati rice I used. Different types of rice may call for different ratios. When in doubt, I always reference the cooking instructions on the package.

How long do you boil the rice?

Once the broth comes to a boil, you'll want to reduce your heat to low and let the rice cook covered at a gentle simmer.

How do I know when the skillet chicken and rice is done?

At the end of your cook time, your rice should be perfectly tender and your chicken cooked through. If you question whether or not your dish is finished cooking, you can try a small spoonful of the rice to check its doneness and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. It should reach 165 degrees F.

Storing and Reheating Lemon Chicken with Rice

This dish stores and reheats beautifully. Let cool completely then transfer into an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, I prefer to toss the leftovers back in a skillet with a little oil and sauté until heated through. You can also reheat in the microwave.

Print

Lemon Chicken and Rice Skillet

This Lemon Chicken & Rice Skillet is a one-pan dinner that is packed with delicious, robust flavor AND will save you dishes!

  • Author: Amber Goulden
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup white rice (I used Basmati)
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Additional fresh chopped thyme, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Season the chicken with salt and garlic powder on both sides.
  2. Melt the butter (or heat olive oil) in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Once melted/heated, add the chicken. Sear for 3-4 minutes per side, until browned, then remove from the skillet and set aside.
  4. Add the rice to the skillet over medium-high heat and stir. Cook 1-2 minutes until toasted. It will give off a slightly nutty aroma at this point.
  5. To the skillet with the rice, add the broth and whisk to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  6. Once the rice is boiling, give it a final stir, add the thyme sprigs, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. After 10 minutes has passed, remove the lid from the pot, stir the lemon juice into the rice, and place the chicken breasts and lemon slices on top of the rice.
  8. Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and garnish with extra thyme.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

If you have large chicken breasts (more than 1-inch thick) slice them in half before searing.

Keywords: Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, quick, easy, one pan

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Recipe rating

  1. Carley says:

    What kind of rice did you use? This looks amazing! It is on my meal plan for the week!

  2. Emily says:

    I made this last night and it was delicious! I loved the flavors and how easy it was. Just want to note, mine did take about 15 minutes longer than the recipe stated, but i might have been using thicker chicken breasts. Thank you!

  3. Albert Bevia says:

    This meal sounds so incredible, love the combination of chicken and rice, and such a great technique to make this all in 1 pan! nothing worst that using up a bunch of pans and dishes to make a dinner! great post and recipe 🙂

  4. Karly says:

    Love the one pan idea! Rice and chicken is always a hit at my house! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Lindsay says:

    My family really enjoyed this recipe!!! We can’t wait to make it again!!

  6. June says:

    I love rice and would love this dish. Sadly I am diabetic and rice sends my sugar skyrocketing. Any suggestions?

  7. Whitney says:

    I made this last night for dinner, and it was SO SO SO good. Totally (picky, but awesome, LOL) husband approved. The rice cooked perfectly, and cleanup was a breeze using just one pan!

  8. Sarah says:

    This was very good! I made it as is the first time and found that it wasn’t enough rice for us so I just doubled the rice and liquid with additional 1/2 of a lemon’s juice and it was perfect. It is a great weeknight meal that can be on the table fast. We like to pair this with roasted lemon broccoli for a complete meal!

  9. Eirinn says:

    Made this tonight and added a zucchini, it was great! Thanks for all the awesome recipes (and Gus and Gray videos)!

  10. Leeanna says:

    So yummy! This was dinner this evening and it was delicious! I did have to add about a cup of extra liquid (I think my pan was still too hot after adding the rice and broth, it was almost cooked out after the first 10 minutes). But I fixed it and all was well. Very good and I will definitely make again!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So good to hear, Leeanna! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Yvonne says:

    Super Easy and so good. Will be adding to our regular rotation. Also easy enough for my 12 yr olds to cook!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Wahoo!!! So glad you loved it!

  12. Alison says:

    This is such an easy meal to throw together! Tastes delicious ❤️

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad you love it, Alison!!

  13. Katherine says:

    Any suggestions on how to use brown basmati? Should I precook it in my rice cooker?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      We haven’t tried this with brown rice, Katherine, so we can’t say for sure. It would definitely take a different amount of time and a different water to rice ratio.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    If I only have dried thyme, when would you recommend adding it?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Definitely! I’d use about a teaspoon of dried thyme in place of the 4 sprigs!

  15. Jill says:

    I love this recipe – it’s quick, easy and delicious. I make it weekly in our house. I increase the rice and broth a bit to guarantee a good ratio of chicken to rice for leftovers. Thank you for creating such delicious, thoughtful recipes!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Jill! We’re so glad you love it!

  16. Lindsay M says:

    I used regular white rice instead of basmati and not all of ice was cooked through, even with extra cook time. Will try basmati next time. Great flavor!

    1. Melissa Guevara says:

      Hi Lindsay! I am sorry to hear the rice did not cook through! Cook times can definitely vary for different types of rice, so I hope that it works out next time for you. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the flavor of the dish. ~Melissa

  17. LeeAnn Liberty says:

    Easy. Tasty. Delicious.
    A keeper for sure!

    1. Melissa Guevara says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us! Glad that you enjoyed! ~Melissa

  18. Danielle says:

    Super easy, super delicious!

    1. Melissa Guevara says:

      Hi Danielle, I am so glad you enjoyed! Thank you for taking the time to share with us! ~Melissa