Balsamic Lemon Chicken

Balsamic Lemon Chicken from Very Culinary

by Amy Flanigan on October 5, 2009 · 34 comments

Ever feel like you have to watch a lot of sub-par movies before you get to one that really floats your boat? That’s how I also feel about chicken dishes. Some are so-so, some are pretty good, and then cowabunga! – you make one that is so outstanding, you must share it with the rest of the world.

My friend Melissa, who recently withdrew from the food blogging fray, told me a while ago about this recipe that she discovered over at Food on the Food. Actually, she told me about it a few times. And with fervor. So, I printed it out. And it sat on my desk…I think for four months. Of course it was absolutely fantastic and I’m kicking myself for not making it sooner. Ah, coulda-woulda-shoulda.

The skin was crispy, with a perfect balance of sweet flavor from the sugar and tartness from the lemon zest. And the smooth, buttery pan juices engulfed every nook and cranny, keeping the meat moist. This was so good, I’m cooking up a second batch later in the week.

Like some of my favorite movies I have memorized word for word, I am certain I will be making this chicken dish so many times that eventually I won’t need to refer to the recipe anymore.

Don’t be silly and put this off like I did. You must make it. NOW. You really must.

Balsamic Lemon Chicken
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes + 20 minutes in refrigerator
Cook time: 30 minutes

• 8 chicken pieces (legs and thighs, skin on, bone-in)
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 2 lemons, zested, 1 juiced, and the other cut into wedges
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons ground pepper
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

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.

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. 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.

(originally from Food on the Food)

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittany March 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Really wonderful. I use cornish game hen halves and throw in some garlic. My family loves this recipe! Thank you!


P~ April 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm

This is right up my alley. Printing. P~


Amy April 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm

It’s so freakin’ delicious, Paula, and a family favorite. If you don’t enjoy it, I don’t know you! Lol. Kidding. Hope you enjoy it!


P~ April 19, 2013 at 7:05 am

Oh. My. Gosh! This is just delicious. Really, really good! Mmmmm…Loved it. Both of us.


Susan November 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Hi Lisa, just checking out your blog after I heard it from Paul. This is the first recipe I am going to try. I am not a good cook at all but I absolutely love to cook and want to be better. I can’t get over how great it is to have such a wonderful role model living nearby. Also checked out your video…You and Paul are hilarious.


Susan November 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm

OMG! I just called you Lisa…I meant Amy. So sorry.


Realtor by day June 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I made this chicken for my family tonight and it was OUTSTANDING. My husband and daughter both raved over this. I added garlic, marinated it for about 8 hours and didn’t fry it because I almost never fry stuff if I can get away with it. I just roasted it and it was still delicious. Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe.


Amy June 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I’m so happy to hear it! Everyone who makes it always raves…it’s just one of those great chicken dishes. Thank you so much for stopping by :D


Karen March 26, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I just made this tonight and it was delicious!! I added a couple tsps of fresh rosemary to the lemon/sugar mix and used no B/S (boneless/skinless) chicken BREASTS…It was TDF (to die for) served w/rice and asparagus…


Pam March 17, 2010 at 9:16 pm

I saw this while at work and even though I got off late and didn’t get home until 7:30 PM, I started it anyway. So at 8:45, I was eating this delicious chicken. I used a whole chicken that I butterflied and was amazed at how tender and juicy the breast meat was. I am now sitting here looking at my husband make a pig of himself and wondering if anything will be leftover for lunch tomorrow. Dear Lord, he’s going back into the kitchen . . . Lol!


Dianna January 5, 2010 at 11:14 am

two of my favorite ingredients, gonna try this one for sure.


Kevin October 11, 2009 at 10:54 am

That chicken looks really tasty!


Juliana October 9, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Balsamic and lemon…cannot imagine the flavor, sounds and looks delicious…have to give a try. Nice pictures!


Tammy October 9, 2009 at 8:00 am

So glad you liked it! It’s one of my favorites, too, and will be made next week. BTW, Paul totally reminds me of my husband.


Lora October 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Can’t wait to try it out. I love those recipes that are about using your hands to eat. Kids hate BBQ sauce, though, so have been looking for something different. Once again, Amy, this is perfect. Thanks!


food-4tots October 8, 2009 at 9:26 am

Oh..u can read my mind! I just bought a bottle of balsamic vinegar and am looking for a recipe to try out. This is the right one for me!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! ;)


Marion October 7, 2009 at 7:07 am

I do this all the time: print out a recipe and leave it for months in some kind of weird tantalizing way, hanging on the kitchen cork board until someone asks if they are ever, EVER going to get to taste it. So glad to know I’m not the only one. And thank you. This looks perfect for my board. Ah, and table.


daphne October 6, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I have to say the sounds of this AND the look of this awesome grill does make my mouth water- even though it is 8am here! =) That’s a great recipe that one would keep!


Natasha - 5 Star Foodie October 6, 2009 at 12:38 pm

The flavors of this chicken sounds incredible, my daughter I’m sure would love this preparation, will be making it for her!


Dad October 6, 2009 at 10:56 am

Yes, Master. I will make it now. Put skin on stick, and have it for lunch.


Sharon October 6, 2009 at 10:38 am

This looks soooooo good, I can’t wait to buy legs and thighs. I only have chicken breasts on hand at the moment. With balsamic vinegar and sugar, how can this not taste like candy. My mouth is watering!


Mike October 6, 2009 at 8:02 am

So, this is the “Citizen Kane” of chicken recipes, huh? That means it’s definitely worth a view…I mean taste.


nora@ffr October 6, 2009 at 9:05 am

oohhhh!!! vat a delicious looking lemon chicken amy!! yeah m sure gonna make this :) thanx for sharing


Helen October 6, 2009 at 7:17 am

Always looking for delicious and simple chicken dishes to try. This sounds like a winner and I’m putting on the to-dos for the next grocery store visit.


Joanne October 6, 2009 at 6:09 am

I am infamous for doing just that – holding onto a recipe that I’m “dying to make” for indefinite amounts of time. I have been dreaming of making mole, for example, for at least the past year. Maybe next week…

The ingredients in this seem so simple, I don’t know how it CAN’T be good. Balsamic and lemon are some of the bests…


tigerfish October 6, 2009 at 2:00 am

Looks delicious and I’m sure it tastes good too!


Melissa October 5, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I did not almost gasp! Haha. I was in a blah mood that day and you thought I was scolding you. I DID say that if you do use them, you need to do bone in skin on. I really think this recipe is meant for that, rather than anything boneless/skinless.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that you loved this. I’ve made it, oh, I think 6 times over the last couple of years – it’s a perfect and easy meal for a guest or two, or makes wonderful leftovers for me and Steve.

And the ringing endorsement from your husband had me grinning from ear to ear. Thanks Paul!


Lisa October 5, 2009 at 2:57 pm

I’m on this one! Chicken is so easy and cheap that it’s always a staple in our house, but you’re right – hard to find good dishes that wow me. Can’t wait to try this!!


Amy October 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Kim – this definitely needs the dark meat of legs and thighs. And bone-in. I made the mistake of inquiring about boneless chicken breasts and my friend Melissa almost gasped ;-)


Kim October 5, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Defrosting chicken NOW…must make tonight….

Wait. I only have chicken breasts. May need to go to the store for this one. No problem. I’m on it! I don’t procrastinate when it comes to lemon chicken recipes of any kind. I can taste it now.


Natashya October 5, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I love the idea of basamic and lemon together. Pleases my acid loving heart! The chicken looks wonderful, and I love the stripeys on the lemons.


Paul October 5, 2009 at 7:34 am

Confection, Candy. What’s the difference? All I know is that at the end of these meals, I lean back in my chair, rub my belly, and smile my chicken chunk-filled toothy smile at my children. Then I look at Haley and say, “Do I have something on my face?” She laughs and shows me her mouth full of chicken candy chunks.

So good.


Amy October 5, 2009 at 7:21 am

Paul – actually, you called this a chicken confection. You called these chicken candy –


Paul October 5, 2009 at 7:17 am

Cowabunga indeed. I think I called this Chicken Candy.


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