Lemon Basil Chicken

One particular day while tending to my outside planter box, I looked at my over abundance of basil and asked the question, “What am I going to do with all this basil?”

My neighbors and son suggested pesto, which I found to be the common suggestion. Pesto was not what I wanted in that moment. I reflected on what would pair well with basil, and lemon immediately came to mind.

I love one pot meals and since I always have chicken in the fridge or freezer, I decided to put everything together. Lemon Basil Chicken would be my next culinary experiment. My imagination went to work as did I.

I laid out all the ingredients, rinsed the basil and prepared to season the chicken. I leave chicken on the paper packaging from the meat market to make clean up more simple.

I pulled back the skin and seasoned the chicken. I sprinkled sea salt, black pepper and turmeric on the top, then put on a couple of basil leaves and covered it with the skin. I turned over the chicken and sprinkled sea salt, black pepper and curry powder on the other side. 

I immediately pulled out my cutting board and chopped the onions. I grabbed my favorite cast-iron Dutch oven and lined the bottom with the onions. I carefully laid out the basil on top of the onions and then drizzled over the olive oil.

I placed the chicken on top of the onions and basil, then squeezed lemon juice all over. I also put the lemon peels into the Dutch oven as well. I covered the pot, placed it in the preheated oven to cook and set the timer for 45 minutes. 

After 45 minutes, I pulled the pot out of the oven and poured in approximately two cups of water. I used my tongs to stir around the lemon, onions and basil a bit. I placed the cover on the pot and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes. 

I took out the pot and let it sit on the stove for another 20 minutes, just until I was ready to eat. My kitchen smelled fabulous, the lemon permeated my home. 

When I took the top off the Dutch oven I had to take pictures, the dish came out perfectly. 

Lemon Basil Chicken was a fun, simple and very tasty dish that I enjoyed creating. I’m happy to share the recipe with you, but I have to share a little secret first.

Writing out recipes is a challenge for me as I “eyeball” everything. I learned how to cook as a child watching my elders. The African-American side of my family did not use recipes, they cooked how they learned growing up. The European side of my family however, very often followed recipes. Though I learned both ways, my natural style is to put in ingredients according to what feels right. 

Though I’ve made this dish several times, on this last occasion I gave extra attention as I added each ingredient so that I could describe measurements to you as accurately as possible. Please let me know if it works for you and how it tasted.

Lemon Basil Chicken


2-4 Chicken Thighs, I use bone-in with skin

¼c Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Onion

1-2 Lemons

1c Basil

2c Water

1 TBSP Sea salt

1 TSP Black pepper

½ TSP Curry powder

½ TSP Turmeric


Preheat oven to 400. 

Place your chicken on a clean surface, I leave it on the paper packaging from the meat market. Pull back the skin to put seasoning directly on chicken. I sprinkle sea salt, black pepper and turmeric on top of chicken, then put a couple of basil leaves on top and then re-cover with skin. Flip over and sprinkle sea salt, black pepper and curry powder on the bottom of the chicken. 

Layer onions and basil at the bottom of Dutch oven or oven-safe pot. Drizzle olive oil over the onions and basil, then place chicken on top. Cut the lemons into quarter pieces and squeeze lemon juice over the chicken and onions. I put the lemon peels into the pot with all the ingredients. Place the pot in the oven and bake uncovered for 45 minutes. 

Pull the pot out of the oven and pour in water just enough to reach the chicken mid-way. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Take the pot out of the oven and let it sit covered until you are ready to serve. I suggest at least another 15 minutes.

You can eat on it’s own, over rice, pasta or any other grain you prefer.



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