Table of Contents
  1. This is a terrific weeknight lemon chicken recipe.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other weeknight dinner recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. One Skillet Lemon Chicken with Orzo & Kale Recipe

When you’re in need of a quick weeknight meal that uses as few dishes as possible, this lemon chicken with kale is the answer. All cooked in one skillet, this recipe combines marinated chicken with wilted kale, orzo, olives, red onion, and feta for a bright yet filling dish. Whether it’s the middle of winter or hot summer, it’s a serious winner.

This is a terrific weeknight lemon chicken recipe.

For a recipe to be weeknight worthy, it needs to be quick, use simple ingredients, and taste great. Skillet lemon chicken with orzo hits the mark. The meal can be made in an hour or less. Chicken breast can marinate for a short time while the remaining ingredients are prepped. After the chicken is browned, the onion and kale are sautèed, orzo and stock are added, and the chicken is placed on top. Everything is finished in the oven, where the orzo soaks in the remaining stock, and a meal is made. The ingredients are pantry staples, ones that are often on the shelf or in the freezer of a home kitchen. The key is dried herbs and fresh lemon to give a big flavor quickly. The result is a full meal in one skillet. The orzo and kale side dish could nearly be a meal in itself, each bursting with flavor. The chicken breast is a perfect protein to carry the fresh, bright flavor and be filling.

White plate filled with serving of lemon chicken with a side of cooked orzo and wilted kale topped with crumbled feta cheese.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Chicken breast can always be kept in the freezer and thawed in the refrigerator overnight before use. Use high-quality anti-biotic-free chicken without fillers for the best flavor.
  • Lemon juice adds a pop of brightness to the marinade, but it also adds some acidity, which will help to break down the exterior of the raw chicken and penetrate flavor throughout the meat.
  • Red onion has all the onion properties with a slightly sweet and less abrasive flavor.
  • Kale seems to be either loved or hated. In this recipe, kale wilts quickly then soaks in the flavors of the skillet and maintains just enough texture to be hearty and satisfying.
  • Orzo is a pasta that has a rice-like consistency. The pasta cooks while the chicken finishes in the oven for a perfect one-pot meal.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make lemon chicken including kale, red onion, olives, chicken breasts, orzo, spices, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Marinate the chicken. In a bowl (or zip-top bag or airtight container), combine the chicken breast with dried oregano, dried dill, black pepper, and salt. Using a garlic press, smash the garlic into the bowl as well. Squeeze the lemon juice right on top of all of the other ingredients and finish with the olive oil. Mix together the chicken with the herbs and liquid, ensuring that each breast is fully covered. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  1. Cook the chicken. Once the chicken has marinated, heat 2 tbsp neutral oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add all four of the marinated chicken breasts to the hot oil and allow them to cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Once browned on one side, flip each one and allow the other side to brown. Once both sides are browned, remove the chicken from the skillet to a plate that will catch any residual juices.
  1. Cook the onion. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and add the diced red onion. Sauté the onion for 4 to 6 minutes, using a wooden spatula to work up any of the brown bits left in the skillet from the chicken. Once the onion is soft and translucent, add the minced garlic and salt. Stir those two ingredients into the onion, letting the garlic cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  1. Wilt the kale. Remove the stems from the kale, and chop up the leaves into large, roughly-sized pieces. Add the chopped kale directly to the onion and garlic already in the skillet. Allow the kale to wilt in the heat, which will take about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the orzo, chicken stock, and olives, and mix everything together to ensure the orzo is evenly displaced. Turn the heat up so that the chicken stock begins to simmer. Then add in the chicken that was cooked earlier, nestling each piece into the wilted kale and orzo.
  1. Warm in the oven. Place the entire skillet into the preheated 350°F oven and bake for 15 to 22 minutes to warm the entire mixture and finish cooking the chicken. The chicken should register 160°F when fully cooked. Once cooked, remove the skillet from the oven, and serve immediately. To garnish, add some chopped fresh dill, squeeze on some lemon juice, and add a sprinkle of feta cheese.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • Rather than mincing the garlic and adding it to the chicken to marinate, use a garlic press instead. This will ensure that the pieces of garlic are super small and any juices from the garlic are also in the marinade as well.
  • The chicken should be marinated for at least 30 minutes but for no longer than two hours. If the oil and lemon juice sit with the chicken for an extended amount of time, the cell walls of the chicken could break down too much, creating chicken breasts that are mushy.
  • When adding the red onion to the skillet, do not be concerned about the brown bits that were left in the oil from the chicken. Those bits are flavor that will be worked together with the onion and everything else that’s added to the skillet later. It’s flavor, and you want it!
  • While the chicken rests outside the skillet, some of the juices will pool on the plate. Do not throw these juices out! When adding the chicken back to the skillet before it goes into the oven, pour the collected juices on top and mix into the skillet. This is additional flavor that should not be wasted.
White marble surface with black cast iron skillet filled with lemon chicken with wilted kale and orzo underneath topped with crumbled feta with yellow towel holding the handle of skillet.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Does this recipe have to use red onion, or can a yellow or white onion also be used?

Any onion will work in this recipe. Red onion has a slightly lighter and sweet flavor, but yellow or white will also work.

Is there a type of kale that works best when it comes to cooking?

Curly-leafed kale has a great texture for this recipe. You want a kale that wilts but maintains some crunch. Lacinato kale can work but will not have the same texture.

Is there a different type of green that can be used in place of the kale?

Yes. If the texture is not as important, spinach will work as a substitute. Spinach will wilt down more than kale but will add a great green alternative.

Can this recipe be made as a vegetarian side dish?

Of course! Simply leave out the marinated chicken, and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More weeknight dinner ideas

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

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One Skillet Lemon Chicken with Orzo & Kale

4.91 from 11 votes
When you’re in need of a quick weeknight meal that uses as few dishes as possible, this lemon chicken with kale is the answer. All cooked in one skillet, this recipe combines marinated chicken with wilted kale, orzo, olives, red onion, and feta for a bright yet filling dish. Whether it’s the middle of winter or hot summer, it’s a serious winner.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Marinating Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

For the marinade

  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic minced or pressed
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil

For the skillet meal

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 bunch curly kale ribs removed and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup olives sliced in half
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • ½ cup feta cheese

Instructions
 

For the marinade

  • Place the chicken breast in a small bowl, zip-top bag, or any airtight container. Add the dried oregano, dried dill, black pepper, salt, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Stir to combine and evenly coat the chicken in the marinade. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
    1 ½ tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried dill, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 clove garlic, ¼ cup lemon juice, 4 chicken breasts, ¼ cup olive oil

For the skillet meal

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of neutral oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add the marinated chicken breasts. Brown the breasts on both sides but do not cook fully, 3-4 minutes per side. Once the chicken is browned, remove them from the skillet and set them aside.
  • Adjust the heat to medium-low and add the onion and sauté until softened, 4-6 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and stir until warmed, 1 minute. Add the kale and sauté until the kale is glossy and wilted, 2-3 minutes.
    1 medium red onion, 1 clove garlic, ½ tsp kosher salt, 1 bunch curly kale
  • Once the kale is wilted, add the prepared olives, orzo, and chicken stock. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once the liquid is simmering, turn off the heat. Nestle the browned chicken breasts in the orzo mixture along with any juices. Place the skillet in the preheated 350°F oven. Bake until the orzo is tender and the chicken reaches 160°F, 15-22 minutes.
    ½ cup olives, 1 cup orzo, 2 cups chicken stock
  • Once baked, remove the skillet from the oven and allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes before garnishing it with fresh dill and feta cheese.
    1 tbsp fresh dill, ½ cup feta cheese

Notes

  • Rather than mincing the garlic and adding it to the chicken to marinate, use a garlic press instead. This will ensure that the pieces of garlic are super small and any juices from the garlic are also in the marinade as well.
  • The chicken should be marinated for at least 30 minutes but for no longer than two hours. If the oil and lemon juice sit with the chicken for an extended amount of time, the cell walls of the chicken could break down too much, creating chicken breasts that are mushy.
  • When adding the red onion to the skillet, do not be concerned about the brown bits that were left in the oil from the chicken. Those bits are flavor that will be worked together with the onion and everything else that’s added to the skillet later. It’s flavor, and you want it!
  • While the chicken rests outside the skillet, some of the juices will pool on the plate. Do not throw these juices out! When adding the chicken back to the skillet before it goes into the oven, pour the collected juices on top and mix into the skillet. This is additional flavor that should not be wasted.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 598kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Difficulty Easy
Method Cooking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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11 Comments

  1. Is there a gluten free substitute for the orzo? Would substituting rice (long grain or aborio) change the amount of liquid added?

  2. 5 stars
    Shut the front door (after the chicken sizzles in the cast iron skillet)! Just happened along wyse guide and am so glad I did. This recipe is so flavorful and hearty! He’s really onto something here! Everyone in my family LOVED this although it contains some ingredients that they don’t normally like! Win win! Felt very fancy tonight!

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! I would make it again for sure. An easy weeknight meal. I did leave out the olives because some of my family do not like them.

  4. What a wonderful combination of flavors! You were absolutely right about the recipe turning a person onto kale. My hubby eats it, but not happily, until this recipe! Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    Quick & delicious – and only needing to use one skillet made the clean up super easy on a weeknight! Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    I was looking for a recipe that let me use chicken dill lemon and kale and stumbled on this. I made some adjustments based on what I had in my fridge, but followed the gist of the recipe and it was awesome! Definitely something I plan on making again. Simple and delicious! Thanks.

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing I love the way it all came together. The flavors were spot on.
    I added a side of rosted butternut squash. Thank you so much for your recipes!

  8. 5 stars
    Kalab, this was a winner! Love olives and feta so I knew it had to be 😋. Added a little more oregano and dill before baking tho. So glad I have leftovers!
    I truly enjoy your videos- primarily the cooking ones- because I love your style- friendly, often humorous with directions just simply entertaining.
    Wish I had a kitchen as delightful as yours tho.
    Glad you have been able to follow your passion and leave #s in your past.