Paleo Lemon Chicken Breasts


What do you do when it has been a week since the last grocery shopping trip, you open the fridge, and a package of chicken breasts is staring you in the face?  For me, it requires a brief moment of panic as I check the sell-by date.  Usually, waste can be prevented by choosing meat with the latest sell-by or use-by date possible before purchasing meat.  However, that strategizing can’t always eliminate the heart-skipping-a-beat feeling when it has been a hectic day… or week.  While shopping last week, I had especially enjoyed seeing the date of my daughter’s first birthday on the labels, but before I knew it the week had just evaporated.  When I opened the meat drawer that day, I was down to her second and last nap of the day.  It was officially crunch-time!

After racking my brain for chicken ideas, I thought back to a Barefoot Contessa recipe I watched her make on a show all about chicken.  Was it lemon chicken?  A quick google search confirms that it was, yes.  I had two lemons left in my kitchen.  One of the two was still good.  Small victory!

Some things I didn’t have: white wine, oregano, and fresh thyme.  Wine isn’t paleo, so I wasn’t planning on using it anyway.  As a substitution, I used chicken broth and a small amount of white wine vinegar.   The result: better than I ever thought possible!  It tasted like I had used wine.  I had also somehow misplaced the dried oregano, and I’ve honestly NEVER had fresh thyme lying around, so I replaced all the herbs for the convenience of the McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder and some dried basil.

This recipe produced the best pan sauce I’ve ever had.  With very few ingredients and very little prep time, a very impressive dinner was the outcome.

I normally shy away from cooking with chicken breasts because chicken thighs are more consistently tender.  You may absolutely substitute chicken thighs for this recipe, if for no other reason than to change things up.  If you use thighs, bake them for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness.  However, rest assured that the breasts in this recipe came out juicy and tender thanks to baking in the sauce.  Also, the key to getting the most out of your meat is letting it rest!  Just 10 minutes allows the juices to redistribute.

This chicken is a crowd-pleaser.  Just be prepared to serve it with something to sop up the mouth-watering pan sauce.

A tip for creating a great pan sauce without a messy pan that has to soak for hours during clean-up:  use non-stick aluminum foil!  I made sure that the foil went up the sides of my baking dish so that the drippings wouldn’t seep onto the bottom of the dish.  It allowed me to pick up the foil (carefully!) and pour the sauce neatly over the chicken without waste AND the dish didn’t even look like it needed to be washed!  Don’t worry… I still washed it.

Quick paleo side options:

Zucchini noodles!  Recipe to follow soon, but it can be as simple as using a vegetable peeler or the largest part of a grater.  We bought a fun contraption for less than $15 called the Veggetti.  It is so fun and makes making noodles even easier!  After you have the “noodles,” sautée them with a small amount of coconut oil and season to taste!  These make an amazing complement to this particular chicken dish.  There is also always one of my old favorites: cauliflower rice.


  • 1 pkg (4-5) boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup organic olive oil
  • 8-10 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup organic chicken broth
  • juice of 1 lemon – about 3 tbs juice (zest optional)
  • 1 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  • 2. Optional: Rinse lemon, pat dry, and zest lemon with small grater – Do this if you want a pumped up lemon flavor and slight bitterness from the lemon rind
  • 3. Juice lemon – removing seeds- and set juice aside
  • 4. In a small pan, heat the olive oil on low heat and add minced garlic, cooking only for a minute (before the garlic starts to brown)
  • 5. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice, chicken broth, white wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, basil, and red pepper flakes
  • 6. Pour pan sauce into a baking dish with sides
  • 7. Rinse and pat chicken breasts dry before placing in baking dish
  • 8. Coat both sides of chicken before placing “skin-side” up (although these are skinless)
  • 9. Season the top of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper or more of the Italian seasoning
  • 10. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts
  • 11. Let meat rest for at least 10 minutes covered with aluminum foil
  • 12. Serve with sauce from baking dish
  • 13. Enjoy!