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chicken breasts in creamy lemon thyme sauce in cast iron skillet

Creamy Lemon Thyme Chicken

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 21 reviews
  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American


One oven-safe skillet is the only pan you need to cook this tender chicken and flavorful creamy lemon herb sauce. Fresh thyme is great, but you can use dried if that’s all you have. See recipe note.


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (around 1.5 lbs total)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) chicken broth (I recommend reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (1/3 of a medium onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1.5 teaspoons dried)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons (43g) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • optional for garnish: lemon slices and fresh thyme


  1. If the chicken breasts are unevenly thick, pound them down so they’re roughly all the same thickness.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of each chicken breasts lightly with the salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 7-8 minutes, turning once halfway. You want the chicken nice and browned on the outside, but not fully cooked in the centers because they will finish in the oven. Set chicken on a plate and cover tightly with foil until step 5.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  4. Remove skillet from the stove and add the broth, lemon juice, lemon zest, onion, garlic, and thyme. Return skillet to the stove over medium high heat. Cook and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to around 1/2 cup (120ml). Stir in the cream and butter. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally, and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add chicken to the sauce and place the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake until the chicken is fully cooked through, about 10 minutes. (Chicken is considered done when an instant read thermometer reads the center of the thickest part as at least 165°F (74°C).)
  6. Serve chicken with sauce spooned on top and any of the listed optional garnishes. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat to your liking.


  1. Special Tools (affiliate links): 10.25-inch Cast Iron Skillet or Oven-Safe Skillet
  2. Chicken: I usually prepare this meal with boneless skinless chicken breasts, but chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in) are just as tasty. The directions remain exactly the same whichever you use, but you may need to cook the chicken for a shorter period of time depending on its thickness.
  3. Milk or half-and-half: You can use whole milk or half-and-half instead, but for the thickest, richest sauce I highly recommend heavy cream. Whichever liquid you use, make sure it is at room temperature to help prevent separation or curdling.
  4. Adapted from Skillet Cilantro Lime Chicken