lemon-basil chicken

4 to 6    |   
Prep Time:
10 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
11 minutes

print this page
lemon basil chicken

This comes from a cookbook I did for Sunset in the ‘80s, but unlike most things from that decade (shoulder pads, Fine Young Cannibals), this is one that should be brought back. It’s quick, impressive, and everyone loves it.


1 juicy lemon, preferably Meyer
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 to 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium canned broth
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh basil, shredded or chopped, plus additional for garnish


Zest the lemon and squeeze the juice. Set both aside. Melt half the butter with the oil in a frying pan wide enough to fit the number of breasts you are cooking and when the foam subsides, add the chicken. Cook over medium-high heat until golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes, then turn over and cook for 1 minute on the other side. Add the broth, lemon juice and zest, and let come to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Boil pan juices until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Turn down heat, pour in any juices that have collected on chicken plate, and whisk in the remaining butter. Stir in basil. Slice chicken breast crosswise, arrange on plates, and spoon sauce over. Garnish with additional basil if desired.

note: serve over rice pilaf or regular cooked rice. To store extra basil, treat it like flowers: cut stem ends, put sprigs in a glass of water, and refrigerate with a plastic produce bag inverted over them. The basil will stay fresh and green much longer this way.