rosemary chicken with roasted lemons

rosemary chicken with roasted lemons

What’s the secret to juicy chicken? It’s in the Top Five list of age-old questions.

We all want the answer to that one, along with:

What’s the secret to erasing wrinkles?

What’s the secret to inner peace?

What’s the secret to sweet old doggie breath?

I know I’ve only listed four of the top five. I’ll bet you can imagine what the other one is.

I doubt I’ll be eligible for a Nobel prize, but I have good news – I know the answer to the very first question. Hurray!

rosemary chicken with roasted lemons

The secret to juicy chicken is……………………(long drumroll here):

Don’t overcook it.

That’s it! Well, just about. The other things are: cook chicken with skin (and bones, preferably) attached and season it well with salt in advance of cooking.

I’m happy to share this 4 ingredient recipe for juicy chicken. It’s such a simple method you might cook chicken like this forever until the end of time. But I hope you don’t, really, since there are probably other great ways to cook chicken.

I use skin-on, boneless breasts here because my offspring make annoying whining sounds whenever they find those dark, mysterious bits close to the bone that could signify poisonous chicken bloodletting. Whatever. The chicken turns out juicy and delicious nonetheless.

The roasted lemons get squeezed over the chicken to make a delicious pan sauce; they get all caramelized and marmaladey and the juices turn thick and sticky.

rosemary chicken and roasted lemons

rosemary chicken with roasted lemons

Yield: 4 servings

Serve the chicken on a platter over arugula greens.


  • 4 skin-on boneless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
  • 1 Β½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • A few sprigs rosemary


  1. Put the chicken breasts on a rimmed baking sheet – I use a 13 x 9 inch quarter sheet pan - and drizzle with some olive oil. Turn the chicken over to coat on both sides with the oil.
  2. Season the chicken on both sides with the salt. Let the chicken sit at room temperature 25 minutes, skin-side up. Strip the rosemary leaves from their branches and chop finely; scatter over the top of the breasts and rub into the skin. Arrange the lemon halves flesh side down around the chicken.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Roast chicken 12 minutes; baste with some of the pan juices. Crank up the oven temperature to 475 degrees and roast and additional 15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the pan juices are bubbling and dark brown. If your breasts are larger than 6 ounces they might need a few minutes more. Don’t overcook! (please).
  5. Let the chicken rest about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and squeeze the lemons over the chicken (one half per breast). Add a teaspoon of water to the baking sheet if necessary and scrape up the pan juices. Pour over the chicken and serve.


If you don't have kosher salt, reduce the amount by half, to 3/4 teaspoon fine salt.


  1. Janice E says:

    Yum! If you used bone in breasts, would cooking time need to be adjusted? Love these flavors!

    • Great question Janice! Yes, for sure adjust the time for bone-in breasts – 20 minutes at 400 degrees and another 15 at 475.

  2. CHRISTY VOGL says:

    Karen, this looks delicious, what a great simple recipe, I am always looking for different ways to cook chicken.

  3. We love rosemary at our house and this looks great. Rosemary is chock full of health benefits. Your pics are lovely and so appetizing. I appreciate recipes with few ingredients, too. Will try it this week. Thanks!

  4. There’s nothing better than rosemary and lemon with chicken. I love that you finish the dish with the roasted lemons… mouth-watering!

  5. Karen,
    What a gorgeous post! The second picture, in particular, is stunning. Nice work, amica. Oh, and did I mention the recipe… my husband says I must try this.

    • Can’t wait to hear what your better half thinks of it. You certainly must have trained his palate very well πŸ™‚
      Buon appetito Adri!

  6. hahahaha, tahnk you for sharing. I’ll never overcook my chicken again πŸ™‚

  7. Last Night’s Dinner: Karen’s juicy Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Lemon. You’re so right, very juicy and so glad I bumped into you on Food 52. Love that sight. Then I learned you live nearby in STL. I live in COMO – home of the Missouri Tigers. I’m always happy to find internet neighbors and real life nearby foodies. Anyway, just wanted to let you know, hubz loved your chicken and its juiciness, flavor even though because of his diet he peeled away the delicious skin. (I didn’t) :”) Success!!!!! So…. thank you for sharing and because of the simplicity of this meal it will always be in my noggin. YAY for a memory bank meal. Have a super day.

    • Amy – that is fantastic! Thanks for your comment (I do love to hear how things turn out in the kitchen), and wonderful you’re in COMO. It’s a great town, isn’t it? I hope you got to enjoy your hubby’s chicken skin πŸ™‚

  8. Stephanie says:

    Would it totally ruin the recipe if I used boneless/skinless breasts? That’s what I have in the freezer now. Do you need to adjust the timing at all, etc?

    • Hi Stephanie – No, not all. I suggest you make sure the breasts have a good coating of olive oil. Skip the 475 degree oven blast; instead roast at 425 until they’re done, about 20 minutes or so.

  9. Melissa says:

    How long would you cook just 2 skin-on chicken breasts? Same time as above?

  10. It looks great and its so easy , i’m for sure going to try it with my own grown Rosemary

  11. Wow! My sister recommended this recipe and it is so easy and delicious! I am definitely saving and will use for years to come! Thanks!

  12. I used drumsticks with this. Didnt change a thing and it turned out perfect…and delicious!

  13. This looks delicious. Can I use sea salt?

  14. I know this comment is almost a year late, but I need to say it. This is now my go-to way to make chicken! The taste is just impeccable and the breast stays so juicy… Everyone complimented my cooking. Thank you!!

    • Ally – oh, I’m so glad to know that! Thank you, and I hope you continue to enjoy the chicken. My family still likes it (and I repeat it often πŸ™‚

  15. Could this be done in a crockpot?

  16. Hi! I’m going to try your recipe with turkey cutlets! Yum!

  17. This has become a go-to family favorite recipe, thank you so much.

  18. I’ve been looking for a simple chicken recipe to make for me and my husband. This looks like a very romantic meal. Rosemary is one of my favorite herb to cook with. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Thanks Amy! My husband is not a fan of chicken breasts (he prefers the dark meat), but even he likes them prepared this way. Hope you both enjoy! Rosemary is a favorite of mine πŸ˜‰


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