What to Cook Tonight: Tangy and Herbaceous Lemon Sage Garlic Chicken

Roasted chicken is one of my favorite recipes to make at home.

Overhead shot of a white plate and white ceramic serving platter of roast bone-in skin-on poultry with lemon and sage, and arugula side salads, with a whole lemon on a blue and white cloth, on a brown wood table with stainless steel silverware, printed with orange and white text.

Many people assume a weeknight chicken dinner means reaching for the boneless, skinless breasts in the meat and poultry section of the grocery store. However, if you want flavors that jump off the plate, you need to start using chicken that still has the bone and skin attached.

Why is this important?

Boneless, skinless breasts are completely exposed to the heat of cooking, and with a lower fat content as well, they tend to dry out easily.

By keeping the bone in and the skin on, the meat has some added protection from intense heat. Not to mention that skin is oh-so-tasty…

All you have to know is how to cook it the right way.

This, my friends, is the right way to cook a perfect bone-in chicken breast.

Overhead shot of a rectangular white ceramic serving platter of oven-roasted poultry with lemon and sage garnish, arranged at an angle on a gathered blue and white cloth, with whole citrus and fresh herbs, on a brown wood surface.

When I was a freshman in college, I got my first “real” job as a hostess at a local Mediterranean restaurant. The best parts of working that job were the 20% discount on food provided to employees, and their lemon roasted chicken.

It was the most succulent poultry I’d ever tasted, served with a pan sauce that made my heart melt.

At the end of every shift, if one of the more friendly chefs was working, I’d get my hands on a plateful of that chicken and shovel it into my mouth, seated in one of the cozy corner booths with the other hostess who was working that night.

Learning to make roasted chicken breast with a delightful pan sauce at home is one of those kitchen triumphs that every home cook should attempt to master.

It’s such an easy dish to prepare, and it can really brighten up an otherwise boring weeknight.

Vertical oblique shot of two white plates of roast skin-on chicken breast with arugula salad, a serving platter of more poultry with thin citrus slices for garnish, and two lemons on a folded and gathered blue and white cloth, on a wood table with stainless steel silverware.

The combination of lemon, sage, and garlic is where the money is, in terms of flavor.

The brightness of the lemon seeps into the poultry as it cooks, and infuses the pan sauce with added acidity.

Rich and herbaceous sage gives some savory, deep notes to the meat that pair wonderfully with the other flavors. And there’s a hefty amount of garlic that gives the skin a boost of flavor to complement the lemon and sage notes.

Finally, there’s the crispy skin that adds a textural element that’ll have you drooling.

When you pull it all together with a simple pan sauce, you will not be able to stop yourself from gobbling up every single bite.

Vertical image of skin-on roast chicken breasts with lemon and sage, on a white ceramic serving platter.

I have to admit, I definitely shoveled a breast and a half into my face when I made this the other night.

Wish I could say that I am ashamed about that, but I am definitely not at all. It was that tasty, and even the leftovers are making me drool as I sit here thinking about them sitting in the fridge…

If you do happen to have leftovers (for a family of four, you definitely won’t), I highly recommend saving the sauce in its own separate container. I like to throw in a few slices of lemon and a couple leaves of sage to infuse the sauce further while it chills.

That way, you can still spoon that flavorful sauce over the leftovers when you’re ready to serve them up again the next day.

I recommend reheating in the oven to crisp up the skin. You can even heat up the chicken and then stick it under the broiler for a few minutes to make sure it perks up again without drying out the meat, and heat the sauce separately.

Print
Slightly oblique head-on shot of two plates of roast chicken and arugula, with two stainless steel knives and forks arranged in a x shape at either side of the plate in the foreground, on a wood surface with a blue and white cloth and a serving platter of poultry with a lemon garnish in the background.

Lemon, Sage, and Garlic Roast Chicken


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

If you don’t know what to cook tonight, reach for this lemon sage garlic chicken recipe. It has a bright herb flavor that’ll astound you.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 medium lemons
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 4 bone-in chicken breast halves with skin (approx. 4 ½5 lbs total weight)
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more for basting
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cut lemons into 12 thin slices, and discard the ends. Remove any seeds.
  3. Peel and mince the garlic. Set aside.
  4. Slide fingertips under chicken skin to loosen. Arrange 3 lemon slices and 3 sage leaves under skin on each breast; smooth skin over to enclose.
  5. Grease a large Dutch oven with ½ tsp olive oil. Arrange the chicken skin side up.
  6. Brush chicken with remaining olive oil. Drizzle lemon juice evenly over the top and sprinkle with minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
  7. Pour 3/4 cup chicken broth into the bottom of the pan, being careful not to dislodge the garlic and spices on top.
  8. Roast chicken until brown and cooked through, basting once or twice with pan juices and extra squirts of lemon, about 30-35 minutes in total.
  9. Transfer chicken to a serving platter.
  10. Place Dutch oven over high heat and pour in the remaining broth. Bring to a boil and cook until the broth reduces to a glaze, scraping up the fond or browned bits on the bottom as it cooks, about 4 minutes.
  11. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed. Spoon pan sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2002.

  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Keywords: chicken, chicken dinner, roast chicken, bone-in chicken

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Preheat Oven, Prep Produce, and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Overhead shot of three raw chicken breasts with the bone and skin on a black and white cutting board, on a wood surface with a small glass bowl of stock, small square glass bowls of salt, pepper, and olive oil, a head of garlic, two lemons, and a small bunch of fresh sage.

Thinly slice two lemons into rounds, making sure you have 12 slices in total. Discard the ends, and remove any seeds.

Juice another lemon, and remove any seeds.

Ten thin lemon slices overlapping and fanned out in two rows, to the left of a small pile of fresh green sage leaves, on a wood countertop.

Remove the stems from several sprigs of sage, so you have 12 large leaves that will fit under the chicken skin.

Peel both cloves of garlic and mince, or use your trusty garlic press. Set aside.

Step 2 – Prep Poultry

Use your fingertips to loosen the skin on each chicken breast. Add 3 lemon slices and 3 sage leaves under the skin of each breast.

Four fingers of a hand are inserted under the skin of a bone-in chicken breast to release it partially from the meat, on a white cutting board with more poultry pieces, on a wood surface.

Smooth the skin over to make sure the fruit and herbs are enclosed.

A hand holds up the skin on a piece of chicken and stuffs fresh sage and a slice of lemon inside, on a white cutting board with more poultry towards the top right of the frame, on a wood surface.

Grease a large Dutch oven with ½ teaspoon olive oil. Arrange the meat in the pan skin side up. If the pieces are touching, don’t worry because the meat will shrink as it cooks.

Four chicken breasts with skin in a large Dutch oven, on a wood surface.

Brush the tops with olive oil.

A pastry brush is used to apply a thin layer of oil to the skin on four pieces of bone-in chicken breast, in a light blue and cream-colored enameled cast iron Dutch oven, on a wood surface.

Drizzle about two tablespoons of lemon juice evenly over the meat.

Four pieces of bone-in skin-on chicken breast sprinkled with salt and pepper, on the bottom of a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven, on a striped brown and beige wood surface.

Sprinkle each breast with even amounts of garlic, salt, and flavorful freshly ground black pepper.

Step 3 – Roast

Pour 3/4 cup of homemade chicken broth, or low-sodium store bought stock, into the bottom of the pan. Don’t pour it over the breasts as this will remove the garlic and spices you just put on top.

Overhead closely cropped shot of four chicken breasts with crispy skin in a large light blue and cream-colored enameled Dutch oven, with liquid at the bottom of the pan, on a wood surface.

Roast until the skin is brown on top and the meat is cooked through. A meat thermometer should register 160-162˚F when inserted into the thickest part of each breast, without touching the bone. The chicken will continue to cook once you remove it from the oven, reaching about 165˚F for full doneness.

Transfer the meat to a serving platter and set aside to rest, tented loosely with foil.

Step 4 – Make Sauce

Place the Dutch oven over high heat and stir in the remaining broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the broth reduces to a glaze.

A large light blue and cream-colored enameled cast iron Dutch oven with a mixture of chicken stock, lemon juice, oil, and seasonings at the bottom, to make a pan sauce, on a striped wood surface.

While the sauce cooks, be sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. It should take about 4 minutes to cook the sauce down.

Taste for seasoning, and add additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. Spoon the pan sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

What Should I Serve with This Recipe?

If you are looking to keep things light at dinner tonight, serve this dish alongside a simple arugula salad dressed with olive oil, your choice of vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Slightly oblique head-on shot of two plates of roast chicken and arugula, with two stainless steel knives and forks arranged in a x shape at either side of the plate in the foreground, on a wood surface with a blue and white cloth and a serving platter of poultry with a lemon garnish in the background.

The peppery notes in the fresh salad greens are a delightful complement to this dish, plus it’s the easiest side in the world to make.

If you’re craving carbs, you can also serve this chicken over a simple creamy pasta, or alongside a baked potato. The options are endless in terms of tasty pairings for this flavorful and versatile protein main.

Overheat shot of two plates of roast chicken with arugula beside a white serving platter of more poultry with lemon and sage for garnish, on a wood table with stainless steel silverware and a blue and white cloth.

Want even more delicious poultry dishes to add to your recipe box? Check out some of our favorites:

What side dish will you serve with this flavorful roasted chicken? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe once you’ve tried it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on October 8, 2009. Last updated: June 16, 2019 at 19:50 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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