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Lemon and Olive Chicken

It takes just a few minutes more to make a big batch of this Mediterranean-style chicken than it does to prepare a small one. Eat half now; freeze the rest. You can store this chicken frozen for up to six weeks. When you're ready to serve it, thaw, then put in a pan with water to coat the bottom; cover, and simmer until hot.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8
  • Yield: Serves 8
Lemon and Olive Chicken

Source: Everyday Food, January/February 2003


  • 8 bone-in chicken breast halves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper


  1. Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. In two batches, sear chicken, skin side first, until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a plate.

  2. Cut lemons in half lengthwise and then into thin slices crosswise. If the skillet is dry, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add onions and garlic, and cook over medium heat until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in lemon slices, olives, stock, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

  3. Put chicken on top of vegetables, pour in any accumulated juices from the plate, and sprinkle with thyme and crushed red pepper. Cover, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Reviews (30)

  • audiegrace 20 Aug, 2014

    Wish I would have read the reviews on this recipe first. It was just so-so. I agree with others that the extra 2 cups of water is a mistake. Too much prep for too little flavor. Should have made only half the recipe to start. Won't be making this again.

  • mairicampbell0 15 Aug, 2014

    Yea...this wasn't great. After reading through the reviews, and not being one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to make it anyway, thinking I could improve upon it...nope. Glad I halved the recipe to start with. After sauteing the onions and garlic, I added some white wine, then 1 preserved lemon (preserved lemons don't have that bitterness in the peel)...2 fresh lemons must be unthinkable. Skipped the water, used fresh thyme, and added some cremini mushrooms. Still wasn't good.

  • pamablac 14 Aug, 2014

    Would de-glazing the pan with some white wine add a little extra flavor? Fresh herbs maybe?

  • bdangelo 26 Mar, 2014

    I wanted to like this recipe, I love all the ingredients, but the only taste to the sauce was the extreme bitterness of the rind of the lemon. Maybe it would be better with a different kind of lemon like the meyer lemons. The bitter taste smothered the lemon and green olive taste quite effectively. To try to make it at least edible after tasting the final produce, I added more olives, some white wine and just the juice of a lemon. Barely edible was all it was. One of my favorite meals is chicken or pork in a tomato olive sauce that we had often as a kid, a part of that homey feeling made me try this recipe. There isn't much point in trying to adjust this recipe unless you peal the lemon and just use the segments, and that would be time prohibitive for a just so so dish.

  • chantelspargo23 3 Jun, 2013

    My husband and I both love this recipe. It is a little bitter with the olives and all the lemon, but we like it that way. If you don't like lots of lemon or are sensitive to bitter foods, then I would not try this recipe. But for the rest of us that love acidic foods and don't mind the bitterness, it is a great one!

  • abluefront 7 Apr, 2013

    I didn't try this yet ... but, after reading the recipe and looking over the 1st few reviews I agree that there was a mistake. Instead of water in the directions they meant chicken broth. Also I would start with 1/2 the broth, and add a little at a time if necessary during cooking. I think it sounds great and simple. But if you don't like lemons, why bother trying it!

  • maryc32 3 Jun, 2012

    Loved it, mmmmmm! Thank You Martha!

  • lost_0202 5 Apr, 2012

    This turned out well for us, we omitted the extra 2 cups of water called for in the steps. i actually think that is a miss type and should be changed. Cut the onions thin, same with the lemons.

  • nheckscher 26 Jul, 2011

    These are some of my favorite flavors and it smelled wonderful cooking in my kitchen. However, when I was eating my dinner, i did not get any hint of lemon or olive flavor in the chicken. I think there was too much liquid as the chicken really did not take on all of the wonderful flavors in the pot of juice that was left over. My family liked it but my husband didn't taste lemon or olive either, nor did my sons who love those tastes. I would make it again but tweak it some how!

  • Lilyluv1234 13 Jan, 2011

    Made this for dinner tonight, DISGUSTING. It was very bitter, I believe this was due to the lemon rind. I tried adding sugar and more salt but nothing could cut the overpowering bitterness. If I were to try again ( which I most certainly am not) I would just add the juice of two lemons.

  • ibcaruso 19 Oct, 2010

    Not good. Too much time for too little taste.

  • cupcakesnheels 12 Sep, 2010

    Omit the water, use the juice of 1 or 2 lemons (the peel makes it bitter), slice the onion very thin, add a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt to the sauce and 1 1/2-2 tsp corn starch mixed with warm water, before returning the chicken to the pan. Try castelvetrano olives (purchased at a deli) for a milder approach. I even sprinkled a little cayenne pepper on each piece of chicken and used fresh thyme. If you mind the tweaks and enjoy lemon, you will like this dish.

  • ironrangenurse 10 Nov, 2009


  • breedpo 31 Mar, 2009

    1st-you need to cook this is a very large saute pan, one with a large circumference - 8 chicken breasts is a lot! 2nd-2 cups of water was too much-stick with the 2 cups of stock and then, if you need more liquid, add water as it cooks. Add color-chopped chives and/or red peppers are nice. I strained liquid and thickened for a pasta sauce with diced chicken leftovers. Nice, subtle flavor-moist chicken!

  • c derbyshire 30 Mar, 2009

    I thought this was a very tasty easy recipe. I used chicken thighs instead of breasts and omitted the water. I served it with rice and steamed vegetable

  • kristintidd 25 Mar, 2009

    Did not think this recipe turned out as written. We felt it was too lemony with the 2 lemons and I felt that it called for too much liquid and thankfully did not add the additional 2 cups of water written into step 2. If I made it again, this would require a serious redo.

  • Jennywiener 12 Nov, 2008

    Boy oh boy I did not like the way this turned out. One may ask how a recipe with such delicious core ingredients could be lousy...but trust me...this one was a stinker!

  • plumeriapal 8 Nov, 2008

    This was good but I need to make it again before choosing to add it to my "regular rotation." It was very flavorful - my husband thought it was a little too lemony. Since I didn't have green olives on hand, I used capers. My only complaint is that I couldn't get the liquid to cook down, even on higher temps and longer cooking times than called for. I am thinking of adding some uncooked pasta during the final simmering to help thicken the sauce and to avoid the hassle of a side dish.

  • Sandraellen 5 Nov, 2008

    Not a hit with my bunch. They didn't think the different tastes blended well together.

  • JenR_Mich 16 Apr, 2008

    Since this received such bland reviews, I added 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary and 2 bay leaves to the stock. I also used a garlic stuffed olive and included the garlic with the stock. I thought the chicken had a nice lemon flavor with a subtle olive undertone. I removed the skin from the chicken before I started.

  • JenR_Mich 16 Apr, 2008

    Since this received such bland reviews, I added 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary and 2 bay leaves to the stock. I also used a garlic stuffed olive and included the garlic with the stock. I thought the chicken had a nice lemon flavor with a subtle olive undertone. I removed the skin from the chicken before I started.

  • suzedb 24 Mar, 2008

    I love this dish. The lemons need to be sliced SUPER fine (the onions too.)

  • crispycritters 8 Jan, 2008

    After browning the chicken, I started the onions in a hot pan then turned to a medium-low temp (gas range) for about 12-15 minutes, adding the lemon slices

  • MMona 8 Jan, 2008

    My brother and I thought this was a wonderful dish and I plan to add it to the family favorites cookbook. I am not even a fan of olives, but the flavors just melded into a very appealing meal. I served it with lentils and rice.

  • LittleLisaLee 6 Jan, 2008

    I'm wondering if maybe the garlic got burned or too brown for you. That is a sure way to end up with a bitter tasting dish.

  • rocky65 3 Jan, 2008

    This dish was awful! I had to thow out the VERY bitter sauce!

  • JanMartin 29 Dec, 2007

    I wish I would have read the one review before I made this. It was not good, and I made the mistake of making it for company. Very disappointing.

  • memills 27 Dec, 2007

    This recipe is not good. I made it and it had almost no flavor. There are great recipes out there for similar dishes. I would try another recipe!

  • kmybmw 27 Dec, 2007

    I agree that know the nutritional information would really be helpful. I always look for the fat and salt content. Most other recipe sources provide the information. People are much more interested in their health these days.

  • LibbyMurray 27 Dec, 2007

    You are capable of giving nutrition information such as calories, fat

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