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.

Italian Lemon Chicken ♥ Cook like an Italian grandmother, tender, garlicky chicken breasts.

Whole Food, Simply Prepared. Real Food, Fresh & Family-Tested. Hearty & Filling. Budget Friendly. Low Carb. Low Fat. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly.

  • "Fantastic!" ~ jdvingram
  • "I LOVE this recipe!!" ~ jessica

How to Cook Like an Italian Grandmother: Make a New Friend.

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.)

And 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".

What's In Italian Lemon Chicken? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. Usually I'm a big fan of substitutes, in this case, I recommend sticking with the recipe, it just works.

  • Chicken! Use meaty boneless skinless breasts here but don't worry, the cooking technique keeps them tender and juicy. Chicken breasts are awfully big these days, I cut them into small serving pieces.
  • Three Layers of Dredging You'll set up an assembly line to "dredge" (that is, coat) the uncooked breast pieces with three layers, one with flour/salt, another with egg/milk and finally, the all-important seasoned bread crumbs. After dredging, the breasts are browned in a hot skillet, forming the all-important coating.
  • Garlic & Lemon These are so important here, they flavor the chicken while it bakes.

How to Make Italian Lemon Chicken

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in three easy steps. You can definitely do this!

  • DREDGE the CHICKEN PIECES with flour, an egg-milk mixture and seasoned Italian bread crumbs.
  • BROWN the CHICKEN PIECES in a hot skillet.
  • BAKE THE CHICKEN PIECES with lemon juice, garlic and lemon slices.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Mise en Place That's the French term [pronounced MEES-en-PLOSS] that directs cooks to do a bunch of prep work up front. It really keeps things moving with this dish. Without the prep steps, you'll be washing your hands a hundred times to avoid cross-contamination with meat juices.

Hungry Yet?
Time to Feast: An Italian Menu

Red Pepper Crostini
Italian Lemon Chicken
(recipe below)
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Italian Spaghetti with Garlic & Olive Oil)
Seared Radicchio
Salad Greens with a Light Vinaigrette Parmesan Slivers
Crostata Della Nonna (Easy-Easy Jam Tart)

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this fun chicken recipe makes you feel like an Italian grandmother, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Italian Lemon Chicken ♥ Cook like an Italian grandmother, tender, garlicky chicken breasts.

aka "Nana's Chicken"

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 60 - 75 minutes
Serves 6, easily to scale up or down for more or fewer servings
  • 1/2 - 1 cup flour stirred with 1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs whisked with 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 slices fresh lemon (about 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds (675g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 6 pieces
  • Browned Chicken
  • Chopped Garlic
  • Lemon Slices

Heat the oven to 325F/160C.


#1 Arrange three large flat bowls all in a row. Stir the flour and salt in the first bowl; whisk the eggs and milk together in the second bowl; the bread crumbs in the third.

#2 Drizzle the bottom of a low ceramic or glass oven-safe baking dish (it should be large enough to hold all the chicken pieces) with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then splash with lemon juice.

#3 Chop the garlic and slice the lemons, these will go on top of the chicken after it's browned.


In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium high until shimmery.

(FYI from here on, your hands are gonna be a bit messy, make sure all the prep steps are finished.)

If needed, cut large chicken breasts into smaller serving-size pieces.

One at a time, drop each chicken piece into the flour to lightly coat, then the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs.

Once each chicken piece is coated, drop it into the hot skillet and brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining pieces, if your skillet is small, the cooking may take two batches.

(Okay, you're probably safe to wash your hands now!)

Once each piece is cooked, use tongs to carefully move it to the baking dish, try not to break the coating.

BAKE Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in the baking dish, sprinkle with garlic, then place a lemon slice on each breast.

Cover the baking dish tightly with foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the chicken juices run clear or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F/75C.

Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

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

ITALIAN BREAD CRUMBS No seasoned 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 (just good bread whizzed with fresh parsley and seasonings), here's my recipe for Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs, it's just below.

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 (here) the flour, whisked egg, bread crumbs or (other dishes) chopped nuts and other ingredients before cooking, all to form a flavorful coating when it's browned. The pan juices from the oven's baking dish are delicious! Be sure to drizzle them over or under the chicken pieces when plating.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving (assumes 6): 285 Calories; 11g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 100mg Cholesterol; 324mg Sodium; 14g Carb; 1g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 30g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Sorry, due to technical issues during a laptop conversion, Weight Watchers points will be updated later. Careful Readers who double-check the Weight Watchers math: The nutrition information 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.


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time-to-table: 5 minutes
Makes about 2 cups
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

In a food processor, whiz the bread pieces with the remaining ingredients.

Use 2 cups to bread crumbs instead of store-bought seasoned Italian bread crumbs.

More Easy Recipes for Chicken Breasts

~ chicken recipes ~
Easy Margarita Chicken ♥, a quick supper, sautéed chicken breasts topped with salsa and cheese, served with delicious doctored black beans.

Chicken Sybil ♥, the 'multiple personality' chicken, just pan-cooked chicken in a creamy-mustard sauce with on-hand ingredients.

Honey Mustard Chicken ♥, fast & simple, five ingredients. Weight Watchers Friendly!

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ chicken ~
~ lemon ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2010 & 2023

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