Recipe for Italian Lemon Chicken

If an Italian grandmother were to make Lemon Chicken, this would be it - in fact, this recipe for healthy baked chicken originated with an Italian grandmother, my friend Marie's mother. No question why it's a favorite family recipe: it's quick, it's hearty, it's lemon-y, it's garlick-y and yes, it's delicious. Weight Watchers? This recipe has just five Weight Watchers points!

Italian Lemon Chicken

It’s slightly embarrassing, the habit of picking up new friends in public places. Take Marie. Marie and I met while ogling heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market. We grabbed coffees and talked for an hour, then another. As if strangers on airplanes, we each divulged unexpected confidences.

Marie’s a fine, fine cook with Italian bloodlines. She introduced me to the Feast of Seven Fishes, the traditional Christmas Eve celebration. One snowy morning, she came for coffee, delivering blueberry muffins still warm from the oven. (Yes, this is a friend one works to keep.) Then she shared her mother’s recipe for a lemon-y, garlick-y baked chicken, wow.

In Marie’s own words, here’s how the chicken came to be such a family favorite. “This is a delicious baked chicken recipe my mom used to make when I was growing up. Unfortunately, I didn’t truly appreciate it until I was an adult. But whenever my mom made this for my family, the grandchildren would simply devour it. Since my mother was their ‘nana’, over the years, the recipe came to be known by all of us as ‘Nana’s Chicken’.“

HOMEMADE ITALIAN BREAD CRUMBS In a food processor, whiz 2 slices whole wheat bread with 2 tablespoons fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.

ALANNA's TIPS Calorie watchers, do watch the weight of chicken breasts, which can each weigh 8 to 12 ounces rather than a serving size of 4 ounces. If needed, cut large breasts into smaller pieces before dredging. What is dredging? To ‘dredge’ a chicken breast is to dip it into flour, whisked egg, bread crumbs, chopped nuts or other ingredients before cooking, all to form a flavorful coating.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite family chicken recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!

aka 'Nana's Chicken'

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 60 - 75 minutes
Serves 6
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 - 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs whisked with 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 cups Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs (see recipe on the left or use two cups commercial seasoned Italian bread crumbs, what Marie and her mother use)
  • 6 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1/2 pounds, see TIPS)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 slices fresh lemon

Preheat oven to 325F. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium high until shimmery.

DREDGE Meanwhile, arrange the flour in a large flat bowl, the egg mixture in another, the Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs in another. Drop each breast into the flour to lightly coat, then the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs.

BROWN Drop the breasts into the skillet and brown on each side, about 5 minutes each. (If your skillet is small, this may take two batches.)

BAKE Drizzle the bottom of a low ceramic or glass baking dish with olive oil, then splash with lemon juice. Arrange the chicken on top in a single layer, sprinkle with garlic, then place a lemon slice on each breast. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with Spaghetti Aglio e Olio or a close cousin from A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables, Orzo with Spinach.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE (How many calories in Italian Lemon Chicken? How many Weight Watchers points in Italian Lemon Chicken?) Per Serving: 285 Calories; 11g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 100mg Cholesterol; 324mg Sodium; 14g Carb; 1g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 30g Protein; Weight Watchers 5 points Careful Readers who double-check the Weight Watchers math: The nutrition estimate assumes just 1 egg because while you want to be able to dip in a lot of egg, there's the equivalent of a whole egg leftover.

How to Make Italian Bread Crumbs at Home

Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs

For cooks who keep a can of commercial Italian bread crumbs on hand, go ahead, use them because that's what both Marie and her mother use. But if you'd like to make homemade Italian bread crumbs that's whizzed with good bread and fresh parsley, this is a great concoction. Here's my recipe for Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs.

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More Favorite Chicken Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Quick Supper: Greek Feta Chicken Sweet 'n' Hot Chicken One-Pot Chicken with Beans & Vegetables

My Favorite Recipes from Italy
(or an Italian Grandmother!)

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Chicken Cacciatore Tiapinno (Ciopinno) - Italian Fish Stew Leek & Lemon Sauce for Pasta

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~ Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs ~

© Copyright 2010 Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. That looks very delicious. I would love to learn some Italian cooking.

  2. Alanna,
    Gonna have to try this one.

  3. I made the Italian Lemon Chicken tonight. Fantastic! My hubby and I think it would be great for company, too. Just 5 points! I will be making it again-wish I didn't half it this time.

  4. I LOVE this recipe!! I've been using it for the past few years and it was the first "heavy cooking' meal I made when we moved into our new house. I also use it, minus the lemon, as the base for Chicken Parmesan. After it's baked for 20 min or so, I add the sauce and cheese. It's also great to cut up into nuggets for the kiddos!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna