Skillet Chicken with Three Lemon Sauce

May 24, 2019

I like a recipe that makes me pucker.

Eyes closed, lips pursed, tongue watering from the acidity.

This easy skillet chicken does just that- with a zippy pan sauce of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a hint of white wine, rounded out with a couple pats of butter.

The whole thing comes together in one skillet, and can be eaten out of the same skillet if desired. When you’re cooking at home for your family, plates are always optional.

What is not optional is bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or thighs. Hear me out:

The skin on chicken is like the frosting on a cupcake. A blanket of flavor contributes texture, moisture and something far greater than what you started with. After all, a cupcake without frosting is just a muffin.

Overhead shot of 4 raw chicken breasts on a cutting board.

The skin prevents the chicken from drying out while it cooks and creates an incredible base for your pan sauce. The fat from the skin melts into the skillet to create a savory, liquid gold for which there is no substitute.

If you’re not a fan of eating golden-brown, crispy chicken skin you can always peel it off once it’s cooked.

As for the bone, it also adds flavor while the meat cooks. Plus, bone-in meat is significantly cheaper per pound than the boneless varieties.

Overhead shot of 4 seared chicken breasts in a skillet with sliced lemons.

It can be tricky to remove the bone and rib meat from the chicken before you eat it, but it is well worth the effort. Plus, it’s easier than carving a Thanksgiving turkey so if you’re an American born after 1621 I think you can handle it.

I’ve kept the rest of the recipe ridiculously easy so you won’t curse me for having to de-bone the chicken at the end.

Overhead shot of ingredients for lemon sauce: lemon juice, lemon, parsley, butter and Dijon mustard.

WATCH how to make Chicken with Three Lemon Sauce 👇

Let’s make easy skillet chicken

The pan sauce is just four ingredients. Use an extra lemon if you don’t have a ½ cup of white wine. (I generally have at least 2 half-empty bottles in the fridge so I live for these kinds of recipes.)

The lemon juice simmers in the same pan that you cooked the chicken, so it melds with that gorgeous, savory chicken fat, and then a few tablespoons of cold butter get swirled in.

Up close view of three lemon sauce in a skillet, steaming.

Watching a square of white butter dissolve into a bubbling, fragrant pan sauce is one of my favorite moments in this recipe.

The best moment, of course, is the first bite: eyes closed, lips pursed, tongue watering.  

Skillet Chicken with Three Lemon Sauce

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Easy, one-skillet lemon chicken with a zippy pan sauce of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, a hint of white wine, a dash of Dijon mustard and a pat of butter.


  • 2-3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley, etc.)



Heat the oven to 400℉. Halve one of the lemons lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise. Juice the other 2 lemons. You should have about 1/3-1/2 cup of lemon juice. Set aside.


Place the chicken breasts or thighs on a plate or cutting board, skin side up, and pat them dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot (test by sprinkling a bit of water in the hot oil, it should sizzle immediately), place the chicken in the pan in one layer, skin side down. Cook, uncovered, until the skin is deeply golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Flip the chicken, add the lemon slices, transfer the skillet to the oven and cook another 10-20 minutes for thighs, 30-40 minutes for breasts, until the chicken is no longer pink near the bone (internal temp of 165℉) and the lemon slices are browned. Cooking time will vary widely depending on the size/cut of the chicken. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest uncovered while you make the sauce.


Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Cook until the wine is reduced by a third, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, 1/3 cup of water, Dijon mustard, and butter. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until slightly reduced, 4–6 minutes. Stir in the fresh herbs, then taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.


Remove the bone and ribs (if you're using breasts) from the chicken, slice pieces in half diagonally if large. Transfer to a platter or serve the chicken in the skillet, spooning the sauce over everything before taking a bite.


  • 397 Calories


This one's easy- drink the same wine you cooked with! If you were using up the last of a previously opened wine (as I usually am), go for a vibrant, crisp, light-bodied white to match the bright citrus character of the lemony chicken. Grüner veltliner, pinot grigio or a crisp French chardonnay would be wonderful.

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