Lemon Garlic Chicken is a super easy skillet chicken dinner that is full of healthy vegetables without sacrificing flavor.
You are going to love the perfectly cooked chicken and vegetables in a buttery lemon garlic sauce and it's super easy to make!
If you are interested in making a similar version of this in your pressure cooker, then you can check out this recipe for Lemon Garlic Pasta. It doesn't have chicken in it, but you can easily add it.
What to Serve with Lemon Garlic Chicken
It's perfect served over pasta or keep it low carb and sub in spaghetti squash like I did.
If you have an electric pressure cooker, making spaghetti squash is super easy and there is hardly any prep. Here is my recipe for making spaghetti squash: Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi Spaghetti Squash Recipe.
It turns out amazing! You can even prep it ahead of time and freeze it for busy weeknights. Simply heat from frozen and it's ready in minutes.
You can also serve it with steamed rice or cauliflower rice.
If you want a one-pot pasta meal that is made in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot pressure cooker, then this recipe is a great choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, as long as you have a skillet big enough to hold everything you can make as little or as much as you like. If your spinach doesn't fit at the end, don't worry about that. Just make sure everything else is really hot and pour the skillet contents over the raw spinach in a large mixing bowl or casserole dish and let sit for about 3-5 minutes. The heat from the sauce, chicken, and vegetables will wilt the spinach and then just give it a mix.
You can, but this recipe is best eaten freshly made. If you freeze it and reheat, you will have texture differences in the peppers and onions. If that doesn't bother you, then it's fine to freeze. Another idea would be to add more chicken broth and freeze it in an airtight container, then turn it into a lemon garlic soup and add in some fresh veggies when you are heating it up.
I don't and it turns out delicious, but if you wanted to marinate the chicken in a lemon garlic chicken marinade, you absolutely can. Just use a few paper towels to blot dry the chicken before searing for the best browning. If you are making your own marinade, be careful with the amount of lemon juice you use because it can break down the chicken meat and change the texture.
Ingredients & Substitutions
I use boneless skinless chicken breast in this recipe, but if you prefer the dark meat, you could easily substitute skinless chicken thighs. Any kind of chicken will work, you could even roast a whole chicken for one meal and use the leftover meat in this dish and it would be amazing. Simply add it at the end to warm through. You also probably want to make sure the flavors compliment each other. I probably wouldn't use leftover bbq chicken or curried chicken.
I sliced the chicken breasts into strips, but you can certainly leave it whole and sear both sides and either leave it in the entire time while you sauté the veggies or place it in the oven to finish cooking or add it back in halfway through the cooking process and just make sure the internal temperature reaches 165°F before serving.
You don't have to use chicken either. You can easily make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken and vegan by using olive oil instead of butter.
Shrimp is another great choice for this recipe. I would start with thawed shrimp and sauté them like I did the chicken and then remove them and add back in at the end so they don't overcook. If you have frozen shrimp, you can use them and just leave them in the entire time, but your sauce is going to be more liquidy because of the moisture the frozen shrimp give off as they cook.
Steak would also work with this recipe, however I prefer a lighter meat or seafood with this lemon garlic butter sauce.
Vegetables & Fruits
You can use any kind of vegetables you like in this dish. I recommend using your favorite spring vegetables like spinach, peas, peppers, thin asparagus, onions, and whatever else you like. You just want to make sure the vegetables cook quickly.
If you want to use fresh green beans or thicker asparagus, I would steam them until they are halfway done and then cook them the rest of the way.
The tomatoes are important because they are what gives off most of the juice to create the sauce. I used fresh cherry tomatoes (multi-colored) cut in half, but you can use all red cherry tomatoes or freshly chopped larger tomatoes with the juice or add in a can of fire roasted tomatoes if you don't have fresh. If you don't like tomatoes, then you will want to add in a little chicken broth to create the sauce.
I used two different kinds of garlic in this recipe, roasted garlic and minced garlic. I like the flavor that both provide, but you can use all roasted or all minced garlic. You can even skip the garlic if you aren't a fan.
The peppers are certainly optional, but they give a great flavor and add so much color to this recipe. I hope you use them! I used mini sweet peppers, but red, orange, or yellow bell peppers are just fine. I would use 2 bell peppers and slice them in strips. You can also use green peppers, but the flavor will be altered some.
I used a red onion because that's what I had on hand when testing the recipe and I liked it so much, I left it in. I think the slight color of the red or purple onions adds a nice color to the dish. You can use any type of onion you have or omit it if you don't like onion.
I recommend fresh lemon in this recipe because the lemon zest really gives that bright pop of lemon flavor, but bottled lemon juice will work. I would only use 2 Tablespoons and add more if needed at the end.
Seasonings & Liquids
I kept the seasonings really simple, only using sea salt and black pepper. I love how the salt and pepper compliments the fresh flavors in a simple way. However, you can add different fresh herbs like thyme or parsley, or some dried Italian seasoning.
I let the tomatoes and lemon juice create the juice and then added butter at the end to thicken it up to create a simple light sauce. You could also add a little white wine while you are sautéing the chicken
Reheating Spaghetti Squash in a Skillet
This Lemon Garlic Chicken recipe is a quick and easy dinner, so you may not have time to roast or pressure cook a spaghetti squash to serve with it. No problem! With a little planning, you can prepare your spaghetti squash ahead of time, freeze it, and throw it right in the same skillet from frozen.
I especially like using previously frozen spaghetti squash with this recipe because I can just throw it in the same skillet and it's ready in just minutes.
If you don't already have frozen spaghetti squash, but want to prep some for these easy and quick dinners here is the video showing how I prep the squash.
In the video, I steamed the squash in the Ninja Foodi to reheat it, but it's just as easy (maybe even easier) to quickly heat it in the same skillet you cooked your skillet dinner in.
Place the frozen spaghetti squash mounds into a hot skillet on medium heat. Put the lid on the skillet so it begins to steam. Once it steams and softens, flip the squash strands and leave the lid off. This way the excess water will burn off and your squash won't be wet.
Gently separate the strands with tongs and, when it is fully thawed and warmed through, it's done.
How to Make Lemon Garlic Chicken in the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker
If you have the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper and want to make this recipe using that appliance, the easiest way to do it is exactly like the skillet instructions. using SEAR/SAUTÉ.
You can use the pressure cook setting as well, but it won't save you any time and you will need to add at least ½ cup of liquid which will make the sauce more liquidy. If you do choose to use the PC function, brown the chicken using sear/sauté on high. Deglaze the pot with ½ cup of chicken stock and scrape the bottom to remove anything that may be stuck on the bottom.
Leave the chicken in the pot. Add in the tomatoes, onions, peppers, lemon juice, salt and pepper. PC for zero minutes. Immediately release the pressure.
Add in the butter, lemon zest and spinach and stir until combined and the butter is melted. If you need to thicken the broth, you can mix 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch with 1 Tablespoon of water until smooth and pour in the mixture. Turn the Ninja Foodi on Sear/Sauté on medium heat and simmer until thickened.
If you can, I would still sear the chicken in oil using sear/sauté on high. Then add in the remaining ingredients except the spinach and slow cook on high for 1-2 hours or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are the texture you desire.
Add in the spinach and the butter and stir to combine. All the residual heat to wilt the spinach.
How to Make Skillet Lemon Garlic Chicken
Slice the chicken breasts into strips or chunks and season with 1 teaspon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Leave in a bowl at room temp if you are cooking it within an hour. If not, cover it and place in the refrigerator and remove it 30 minutes before cooking.
Slice the mini peppers into ½" rounds or if you are using bell peppers, slice them into ½ inch strips.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.
Slice the onions in ½"-¾" strips.
If you don't have roasted garlic on hand and want to make it, here is the recipe: Roasted Garlic in the Ninja Foodi
Mince the garlic. If you don't have a garlic press and love garlic, it's a must-have kitchen tool. The one I like the best is from Pampered Chef: Garlic Press
Searing the Chicken
Place a large skillet on the stove and heat the pan on high for about 2-3 minutes. Add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil or the oil of your choice and swirl it around in the pan. Let it heat for about 1-2 minutes.
Add the chicken in a single layer and sear on the one side for about 2-3 minutes, flip and sear for another 2 minutes.
Remove the chicken and place in a bowl or on a plate for later.
Keep the pan on high heat and add the cherry tomatoes and roasted garlic. Stir to combine and reduce the heat to medium high.
Add in the peppers, salt, pepper, and onion slices. Give a stir and put a lid on the sauté pan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften the texture you like and the tomatoes give off their juice.
Add in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the chicken back in and stir, try to get the chicken under the liquid as much as possible. Place the spinach on top and cover with lid.
Reduce heat to low medium and let simmer until the spinach wilts. This only takes a minute or two.
Check the internal temperature of the chicken to make sure it has reached 165℉/74℃. If it hasn't continue simmering until it reaches the safe internal temperature.
Add the butter and stir. This thickens the sauce and adds some richness. You can also add some heavy cream or if you want a thicker sauce, use a cornstarch slurry.
Taste the sauce for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed.
I like to serve my lemon garlic chicken over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles, but it is also great served over angel hair pasta, rice, or cauliflower rice.
Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired! It's delicious that way! You can also garnish with extra lemon slices.
Serve & Enjoy!
Lemon Garlic Chicken
- 1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breasts
- 1½ teaspoon sea salt divided in recipe
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper divided in recipe
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil or oil of choice
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes (about 2 pints) assorted colors or all red
- 2 bulbs roasted garlic
- 9 mini sweet peppers or 3 bell peppers
- 1 medium red onion any onion is fine
- 1 lemon both juice and zest
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic about 3 cloves
- 4 cups spinach
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter
- Roast the garlic. You will use 2 bulbs of roasted garlic and 1 teaspoon of minced raw garlic, which is about 2-3 cloves depending on the size.
- Cut the chicken breasts into strips or chunks and season with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place in bowl and set aside
- Cut the peppers into rounds or strips about ½" thick
- Cut the onion into ½" strips
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half
Sear the Chicken
- Heat a large skillet on high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Add in olive oil and swirl it around in the pan. Decrease the the heat to medium high and let the oil heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Place the Chicken strips in a single layer and sear on one side for 2-3 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 2 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a bowl for later. Keep the pan on the heat
- Add the cherry tomatoes (cut in half) to the hot pan. Add in the roasted garlic cloves. Stir to combine.
- Add in the peppers, onions, remaining ½ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Stir and put the lid on. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer until the tomatoes release their juice and the vegetables begin to soften to the texture you like.
- Zest and juice the lemon (about 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice) and add to the pan.
- Add the partially cooked chicken and stir. Place the spinach on top and put the lid on. Turn the heat down to low and let the spinach wilt.
- When the spinach is wilted, check the internal temperature of the chicken to make sure it has reached at least 165°F/74°C. If it hasn't reached a safe internal temperature, turn the heat down to low and simmer until the chicken reaches 165°F/74°C.
- Add in 2 Tablespoons of butter and stir to combine. This will thicken the sauce. If you want the sauce thicker, you can add a cornstarch slurry and bring to a simmer until thickened.
- Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, rice, or cauliflower rice.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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