September 25, 2022

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chicken breasts in creamy lemon thyme sauce in cast iron skillet

Creamy Lemon Thyme Chicken (Very Easy!)

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So saucy! One skillet is the only pan you need to cook this tender chicken and flavorful creamy lemon herb sauce. Originally published in 2016, this garlicky and herb-infused creamy lemon thyme chicken now features nearly double the sauce so there’s extra for spooning onto each scrumptious bite.

chicken breasts in creamy lemon thyme sauce in cast iron skillet

My website is full of baking recipes, but when I put together a truly fabulous dinner that the entire family enjoys, it would be silly not to share it! We’ve been making this creamy lemon thyme chicken on repeat for a few years and we love it with extra sauce. The written recipe below is exactly how I make it these days.

I usually serve it with rice and a vegetable. The importance of a quick, easy, and delicious meal is worth its weight in gold and luckily this meal checks all 3 boxes!

This Lemon Thyme Chicken is a 1 Pan Wonder

Today’s easy dinner was inspired by another recipe favorite: cilantro lime chicken. Both dishes include a flavorful creamy sauce and juicy chicken cooked & combined in just 1 pan. The chicken recipes start on the stove and finish in the oven, so make sure you use an oven-safe skillet.

Yes, it’s all cooked in just 1 pan! I usually use a 10.25 inch cast iron skillet but any oven-safe skillet does the trick.

chicken breasts in creamy lemon thyme sauce in cast iron skillet

You Can Make This with Chicken Breasts or Chicken Thighs

I usually prepare this meal with boneless skinless chicken breasts, but chicken thighs are just as tasty. When using chicken thighs, I reach for boneless just because they’re easier to eat, but bone-in works too. The directions remain exactly the same whichever you use, but you may need to cook the chicken for a shorter period of time depending on its thickness.

Grab these ingredients:

ingredients in bowls and on plate including raw chicken breasts, lemon, olive oil, butter, chicken broth, and thyme

Let Me Show You How Easy This Is

The chicken is your first focus. Add salt and pepper to the chicken and then cook it in your skillet on the stove with a little olive oil. Brown it on both sides, but don’t worry about cooking it through in this step because it will finish cooking in the oven with the sauce. Cover and set the *mostly cooked* chicken aside.

In the same pan, prep the lemon thyme sauce. Simmer chicken broth, lemon juice & zest, chopped onion, garlic, and fresh thyme together. Reduce it down and then stir in heavy cream and butter. Simmer until slightly thickened, about the same consistency as heavy cream itself.

Now combine both the chicken and sauce. But I won’t blame you if you want to drink the sauce first.

chicken breasts on white plate and lemon thyme sauce in skillet

And finish it in the oven until the chicken is cooked through. Meanwhile, you can make a couple easy side dishes like rice and/or steamed vegetables– anything to soak up that creamy lemon sauce! You could even roast some potatoes in the oven before the chicken cooks or whip up a fresh salad.

Here’s Why You’ll Love This Creamy Lemon Thyme Chicken

  • Fresh thyme is great, but if dried is more convenient, use that instead.
  • There’s no shortage of that rich lemon thyme sauce!
  • Preparation is a breeze.
  • Perfect with rice and a vegetable for a casual weeknight meal, but can be fancied up with crowd pleasing sides like biscuits, roasted potatoes, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes (spoon the sauce on top!), garden salad, corn on the cob, and more.
chicken breast with lemon and herbs on plate with rice and asparagus

Print

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Description

One oven-safe skillet is the only pan you need to cook this tender chicken and flavorful creamy lemon herb sauce. Fresh thyme is great, but you can use dried if that’s all you have. See recipe note.


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (around 1.5 lbs total)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) chicken broth (I recommend reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (1/3 of a medium onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1.5 teaspoons dried)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) Tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons (43g) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • optional for garnish: lemon slices and fresh thyme


  1. If the chicken breasts are unevenly thick, pound them down so they’re roughly all the same thickness.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of each chicken breasts lightly with the salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 7-8 minutes, turning once halfway. You want the chicken nice and browned on the outside, but not fully cooked in the centers because they will finish in the oven. Set chicken on a plate and cover tightly with foil until step 5.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  4. Remove skillet from the stove and add the broth, lemon juice, lemon zest, onion, garlic, and thyme. Return skillet to the stove over medium high heat. Cook and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to around 1/2 cup (120ml). Stir in the cream and butter. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally, and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add chicken to the sauce and place the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake until the chicken is fully cooked through, about 10 minutes. (Chicken is considered done when an instant read thermometer reads the center of the thickest part as at least 165°F (74°C).)
  6. Serve chicken with sauce spooned on top and any of the listed optional garnishes. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat to your liking.

Notes

  1. Chicken: I usually prepare this meal with boneless skinless chicken breasts, but chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in) are just as tasty. The directions remain exactly the same whichever you use, but you may need to cook the chicken for a shorter period of time depending on its thickness.
  2. Milk or half-and-half: You can use whole milk or half-and-half instead, but for the thickest, richest sauce I highly recommend heavy cream. Whichever liquid you use, make sure it is at room temperature to help prevent separation or curdling.
  3. Adapted from Skillet Cilantro Lime Chicken

Keywords: lemon thyme chicken, skillet lemon chicken

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