Lemon Chicken Skillet Dinner

When you really want dinner in a hurry without a lot of pots and pans to clean up at the end of the meal, look to this recipe. Make this lemon chicken skillet dinner with spinach and orzo and all you'll need is a little side salad.

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Ingredients on a cutting board - chicken stock, white wine, cream, onion, lemon, chicken, spinach and garlic.

Easy to Find Ingredients

This recipe for lemon chicken skillet dinner is quick, simple, but oh so tasty and satisfying. None of the ingredients are unusual or hard to find. In fact, you might have them all on hand at any given time. This meal is actually one of those dinners where you can substitute different ingredients pretty easily as well. If you don’t like spinach, try stirring in some arugula or (dare I say it!) kale. If you don’t have orzo on hand, any other small pasta will do – just be ready to add a minute or two to the cooking time. If you’d like dinner a little sweeter, use an orange and orange juice instead of the lemon.

Chicken breasts and lemon slices in a cast iron skillet with tongs and a towel.

Searing is Important

Searing the chicken is the most important step. Make sure you get good color on the chicken and give it enough time in the pan to cook almost all the way through. Then, just set it aside and give the lemons a little color in the pan. After that, adding the onion, garlic, orzo and liquids is all there is to this recipe. Cover and cook until the orzo is tender. Stir in the spinach, cream, return the chicken and cook for a few more minutes. It all comes together very easily and dinner is done in one pan. Quick dinner and quick clean up too!

Lemon chicken skillet dinner on aa white plate with a side salad.

Lemon Chicken, Spinach and Orzo Skillet Dinner

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 25 m
  • Total Time: 40 m
  • Servings:


  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 4- to 5-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • olive oil
  • 1 small lemon sliced
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • cups dried orzo pasta
  • ½ cup white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon


  1. Combine the flour and dried thyme and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dredge the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour.
  2. Pre-heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and brown the dredged chicken on both sides. Transfer the browned chicken to a side plate. Add the lemon slices to the skillet and sear them quickly, until slightly browned. Set them aside on the plate with the chicken.
  3. Add the onions to skillet and sauté for a few minutes until they start to brown. Add the minced garlic and orzo and sauté for another 2 minutes, just to toast the orzo. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan by scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the lemon juice and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 12 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking process.
  4. Stir in the baby spinach, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Return the browned chicken and lemon slices to the pan and sprinkle the lemon zest on top. Simmer over low heat for a few more minutes until the chicken is warmed through and serve.
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Comments (36)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    Easy and super delicious! I would have appreciated some indication of measurements for “season generously “ and I did add more salt and pepper later but it turned out so I must have done okay.

  2. 5 stars
    The Lemon Chicken, Orzo and Spinach Skillet dinner is a five star recipe. I had the ingredients already (when does that happen!) and it was so easy to follow, The taste is nothing short of outstanding. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe (lemon chicken, orzo and spinach)!! I don’t especially enjoy cooking, but every recipe of yours that I’ve tried has been easy to follow with yummy results. We ate well last night!

    1. Hi Marjorie, The cream at the end just loosens the orzo and makes it really “creamy” (go figure!). You could simply stir in a little more stock instead if you are avoiding dairy or cream.

  4. 5 stars
    Lemon Chicken, Orzo and Spinach ONE SKILLET meal is AMAZING.. Another one of Meredith’s recipies that is in my top 10… This got a thumbs-up from my Nephew who is almost impossible to please with chicken (He’s gotta have his beef)… SO YUMMY!!

  5. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe!! I made this in my electric skillet due to not have a stove… it was phenomenal!

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious and simple. Spouse said it wasn’t too lemony, so that’s a hit. Used only two breasts because there’s just the two of us, but otherwise followed the recipe except I subbed more broth for the cream.

    1. You can use milk instead of cream, just make sure you don’t bring it to a boil after you add the milk, just simmer over low heat for a few minutes. The sauce may be a little thinner but should still taste great.

  7. This looks delicious and easy. Being dairy free how would it be with coconut milk or coconut cream? I’m making this for our company this week. Yummy!

    1. You can use coconut milk but make sure you don’t bring it to a boil as it will curdle over high heat. Once you add the coconut milk, just simmer over low heat.

  8. 5 stars
    When you say “one pot,” it’s really one pot. So simple, but quite elegant. Like all your recipes (I have 3 or 4 books), this recipe is excellent. Thank you so much! I always have chicken breasts, lemons, and cream in the house, and I’ve made this several times Now it’s kind of a template for me–I might use rice or diced potatoes instead of orzo, or add asparagus or arugula, sometimes a big amount of parsley, different herbs, etc. Couldn’t appreciate your work more.

  9. Just made the lemon chicken orzo. It was exceptional! I liked the fact that there are no “special” ingredients. I did substitute broccoli for the spinach(I don’t like spinach). To make the substitution I just added the broccoli at the half way point when instructions say to stir the orzo. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  10. 5 stars
    Absolutely easy, fast, and delicious. I used chicken thighs bone-in and just upped the amount of flour and thyme. The rest of the ingredients were the same. This recipe is a keeper.

  11. Ooh, bone-in thighs sound good. I’d probably up the amount of herbs with thighs, I wonder if you could skip the flour altogether, since the skin would probably brown nicely without it?

    1. If you use skin-on chicken thighs you can omit the flour and just season them with the thyme, salt and pepper before browning.

  12. Made the lemon chicken orzo again tonight. It is still fabulous. I love the flexibility of this recipe. I didn’t have cream or an onion on hand so I substituted some dehydrated onions and skim milk it was still delicious. Definitely a must try for everyone!

  13. Lemon chicken with orzo
    I’ve had this dinner a few times it’s fabulous even if I omit things I don’t have on hand
    Thanks keep sharing these recipes

    1. You will want to use a crisp wine on the drier side that is not too sweet. A Sauvignon Blanc, Pinto Grigio, or Chardonnay works well. Meredith always says that if it’s a wine you like to drink, then you’ll like it to cook with too.

    1. Hi June. This recipe doesn’t translate easily to brown rice. Orzo only takes about 7-10 minutes to cook, while brown rice takes about40 minutes. The borwn rice would also need more liquid to absorb than the orzo. So, while you can absolutely make a chicken and brown rice dinner, it would be a different recipe from this one.

  14. 5 stars
    Of all Mer’s recipes the Lemon Chicken with Orzo is my absolute favorite. Family always asks for it as it’s so tasty and as the cook it’s amazingly easy. Thank You Meredith!!!!

  15. 5 stars
    Made this recipe tonight for dinner. Even though there is just two if us, made the full recipe so would have leftovers. This is a keeper. Even a dish for company. Had to add about a cup of water to the orzo as it was running dry and not fully cooked. Only uses S/P in flour mixture. Many steps but only one large pan, so clean up easy.

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