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Simple Italian Basil Chicken

This Italian basil chicken is made with a fresh garlic and basil infused butter compound then pan fried with olive oil and lemon juice until golden brown. It’s a simple weeknight dinner that doesn’t skimp on flavor! 

As with most things in life, the simpler they are the better they seem to be! This Italian basil chicken may have simple ingredients, but just like my Italian pan fried chicken and Italian skillet chicken and peppers the results are flavorful and mouthwatering.

Chicken pieces on a white plate.


 

When it comes to tips for making it Italian, I always advise to use the best ingredients! For this easy chicken breast recipe, that includes quality olive oil, butter and lots of basil, garlic and lemon for the best fresh flavor. 

You will love how much taste the basil and butter impart to the chicken breasts as they pan fry gently on the stovetop until golden brown. This is one chicken dish you will make over and over again! 

Why I Love This Recipe

  • Simple ingredients: This chicken breast recipe has less than 10 ingredients but will make your tastebuds soar!
  • Flavorful: Butter always makes things better, especially when it’s infused with garlic and basil. Cooking the butter directly on the chicken adds fresh, bold flavor! 
  • Perfect for a weeknight dinner: With 4 servings, it’s perfect for families! It’s an easy dinner recipe that is mostly hands-off leaving plenty of time to make a side to serve with it.

Italian Basil Chicken Recipe Ingredients

  • Chicken breasts: I used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts.
  • Fresh basil: Measure after chopping.
  • Garlic: Freshly minced garlic not from a jar adds the best savory flavor.
  • Salt and pepper: Simple seasonings is all you need!
  • Butter: Real butter, not margarine that has been softened at room temperature.
  • Olive oil: I like to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. 
  • Lemon: You will need 3-4 slices of lemon as well as fresh lemon juice.
Ingredients for the recipe.

Variations to Try

  • Tomato basil chicken: Near the end of cooking time, add some cherry tomatoes, they add wonderful flavor especially if they are from the garden!
  • Splash of heavy cream: After browning the chicken, add a splash of cream and let it simmer for a few minutes. This adds such a nice creamy texture!
  • Add some veggies: I like to add some spinach near the end so it has time to wilt. You could also add some mushrooms or zucchini.
  • Cheesy: Add a slice of freshly shredded or sliced mozzarella on each chicken breast, allow to melt then serve. 
  • Spice: Add some red pepper flakes to the butter compound for a little heat!

How to Make Simple Italian Basil Chicken

To start, make your butter compound. Add chopped basil to a bowl with the minced garlic, salt, pepper and softened butter. Combine, then refrigerate until firm. 

Making the mixture for filling.

Using your fingers gently lift the skin from the chicken breast and spread the basil and butter mixture evenly between the chicken and skin pieces.

Placing the filling under the chicken skin.

In a medium to large skillet, add the olive oil to the hot skillet then the lemon slices. Place the chicken bone side down into the pan.

The lemon slices on the pan and the chicken on top of the slices.

Drizzle the chicken with lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper then cover and cook on low to medium heat.

Pouring the liquid on top of the chicken and cooking in the pan.

Once the liquid has evaporated, increase the heat to medium-high and turn the chicken over to brown on the other side. Flip over then top with a little chopped basil and serve.

The baked chicken in the pan.

Tips for perfect results

  • Use an instant read thermometer: To avoid overcooking the chicken, check the cooked chicken with an instant read thermometer. For juicy chicken breasts, it should read 165°F. 
  • Pound chicken to even thickness: This not only tenderizes them but allows them to cook evenly.
  • Fresh basil is best: Sorry dried basil! For the most flavorful taste in this chicken breast recipe, it’s best to use fresh basil in the butter compound, although you could use dried basuk but use about one-third of the amount specified for fresh basil as dried basil is more concentrated.
  • Chicken thighs: While I prefer chicken breast, you could try bone-in, skin on chicken thighs.
  • Garnish with Parmesan cheese: You can never go wrong with freshly grated Parmesan cheese added to any Italian-inspired flavored dish!

Serving Suggestions

I like to keep it simple and serve this with my simple arugula salad or some Parmesan roasted asparagus and crusty bread. 

My oven roasted rosemary potatoes are an easy side dish that everyone always loves and no one ever turns down homemade pasta

Can I use different herbs?

Sure! So many fresh herbs work with mild flavored chicken breast. You could try thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley or tarragon. 

How can I make this dish healthier?

To make it healthier, use skinless chicken breasts, reduce the amount of butter, and increase the amount of fresh herbs and garlic.

Chicken with basil on a white plate.

Can I make this in the oven?

While I have not tested it, that should work. Assemble chicken as directed and place in a baking dish. Cover and bake at 375°F for 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through. You may want to broil the chicken for a couple of minutes to brown it.

How to make chicken breasts moist and tender?

For this recipe to avoid dry chicken, we cook it covered on low and only until it has reached 165°F. Covering it helps retain moisture in the pan. As the chicken cooks in the pan, the butter underneath the skin also helps keep it moist and juicy! If you are cooking your chicken using another method, a marinade is a great way to keep the chicken moist.

Can I make this recipe in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the chicken in advance and refrigerate it. Take out of the refrigerator for 15 minutes before cooking.

What is the best way to store leftovers?

Cool then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I love this cold but you can reheat in the microwave until warm if you would like. Chicken easily dries out when reheating, so adding a splash of chicken broth can help retain moisture. 

More Chicken Recipes

Basil Chicken with a slice cut on a white plate.

This Basil Chicken is the perfect Summertime dinner idea. I hope you enjoy it too! Buon Appetito!

Chicken with basil on a white plate.

Simple Italian Basil Chicken

Rosemary Molloy
This Italian basil chicken is made with a fresh garlic and basil infused butter compound then pan fried with olive oil and lemon juice until golden brown.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American/Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 369 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 4 chicken breasts (with skin)
  • ½ cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 dashes black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 slices lemon – thinly sliced
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Chop the basil and place in a small bowl with the minced garlic, salt and 2-3 dashes pepper and butter, combine, then refrigerate for approximately 15 minutes or until firm. Using your fingers gently lift the skin from the chicken and spread the basil spread evenly between the chicken pieces.
  • In a medium/large skillet drizzle the pan with olive oil and top with the sliced lemon, place the chicken bone side down on the lemon. Drizzle the chicken with 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice, sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt and a dash or two of pepper. Cover and cook on low/medium heat for 25-30 minutes, once the liquid has evaporated, raise the heat and turn the chicken over to brown well. Turn the chicken back over, top with a little chopped basil and serve. Chicken is done at 165F.

Notes

Can I make this recipe in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the chicken in advance and refrigerate it. Take out of the refrigerator for 15 minutes before cooking.

What is the best way to store leftovers?

Cool then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I love this cold but you can reheat in the microwave until warm if you would like. Chicken easily dries out when reheating, so adding a splash of chicken broth can help retain moisture. 

Nutrition

Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 167mg | Sodium: 476mg | Potassium: 869mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 494IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
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