Lemon Chicken Breasts with Cucumber Feta Salad
Say goodbye to dull, dry chicken breasts. This recipe makes chicken that’s unbelievably tender, juicy and flavorful. The salad is delicious, too. It’s effortless to make with cucumber, tomato, feta cheese and an easy lemon dill dressing. You can even make it ahead of time. Jump to the Lemon Chicken Breasts Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
Four Steps for Perfectly Cooked Chicken Breasts
Chicken breasts are a staple in most kitchens, including ours. Read below for our tips for making sure they are juicy and flavorful.
Even the simplest marinade can make a huge difference — marinated chicken becomes moist, juicy and flavorful. Just 20 minutes in a marinade will make a difference. You could leave it for longer, but there is no need to go past 2 hours for chicken breasts (a whole chicken can marinate overnight). A resealable plastic bag or small rimmed dish makes marinating easy, too.
For this recipe, we went with a simple marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, fresh dill, salt, and pepper. The lemon and dill work nicely with the light cucumber feta salad, but you could switch lemon for lime or dill for other herbs if you wanted. This lemon and garlic chicken marinade is also one of our favorites.
Sear Until Golden
After 20 to 30 minutes of marinating, remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry — this helps with getting that golden sear when we cook. Whenever you sear meat, especially chicken, it’s critical that you pat everything dry. If the chicken were still wet from the marinade, the chicken breasts would steam, not sear.
Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add some olive oil (or other fat like vegetable oil, coconut oil or a combination of butter and oil). As soon as the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and cook 2 to 3 minutes until golden.
Cover, Turn Heat to Low
Once golden on one side, flip the chicken and turn down the heat to low. Then cover and walk away — you want to let it cook 10 to 15 minutes. During this time, there is no need to open the lid or flip the chicken. The chicken breasts become moist, juicy, and plump. While the chicken cooks, you can make the cucumber feta salad. We use this method when making these chicken breasts and these juicy pork chops!
Let It Rest
Last step — Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. As the chicken rests, the juices redistribute. This way, when you cut into the chicken, all the juices stay in the meat instead of running out on the plate or cutting board.
Once the chicken has rested, slice it up and serve with the salad. Don’t forget to spoon extra dressing from the bottom of the salad bowl on top — that’s gold!
Recipe updated, originally posted June 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
Lemon Chicken Breasts with Cucumber Feta Salad
Chicken breasts are a staple in most kitchens, including ours. To make sure that they are juicy and flavorful, we marinate the chicken in a simple marinade for about 20 minutes, although you could go longer. Then we sear it in a pan until browned, flip and cover the pan until the chicken is plump, juicy, and cooked through.
You Will NeedLemon Chicken Breasts
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; 6 to 8 ounces each
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or other fresh herbs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperCucumber Feta Salad
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of pure honey, depending on how sour lemon is
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or other fresh herbs
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Half of a hothouse or seedless cucumber, chopped
2 ounces feta cheese, cubed
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Cook Chicken
- Make Cucumber Salad
Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Use the back of a small spoon to press garlic and dill into other ingredients, releasing more flavor from the dill and garlic. Add marinade to a resealable plastic bag or small rimmed dish then add chicken breasts. Marinate 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Brush extra garlic from chicken and pat dry. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium frying pan (with lid) over medium-high heat. As soon as the oil is hot and looks shimmery, add the chicken. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Flip, reduce heat to low then cover with lid. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
Transfer chicken to a plate then cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, slice, and then serve with salad.
Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, honey, and dill in a medium bowl then add tomatoes, cucumber, and feta cheese. Toss gently, season to taste then refrigerate at least 20 minutes and up to a day.