Grilled Greek Lemon Chicken Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15min. + marinating Grill: 15 min.
Our Greek lemon chicken features bright, citrusy chicken with a kiss of grilled char. All it takes is 30 minutes of marinating and 15 minutes on the grill.

Updated: May 02, 2024

You probably won’t find me cooking indoors from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Most nights, I’ll be at the grill whipping up fresh Mediterranean recipes like Greek lemon chicken. This recipe is packed with flavor, thanks to a 30-minute marinade that infuses chicken thighs with a bright, herby mixture that tastes like sunshine. The marinade also locks moisture inside the meat, ensuring the chicken stays tender and juicy while it cooks.

This Greek lemon chicken recipe can be served as an easy weeknight dinner or as part of a spread of meat and veggies for a backyard barbecue. The chicken tastes fantastic as a meaty main dish with a side of roasted Greek potatoes or lemon rice pilaf. Or carve the chicken off the bone, and serve the sliced meat atop salads like Greek orzo salad. It also makes an incredible poultry filling to use in our Greek beef pitas.

Greek Lemon Chicken Ingredients

  • Chicken thighs: Bone-in chicken thighs are perfect for the grill. The dark meat stays juicier than white meat chicken, and the bone regulates the temperature of the chicken for even cooking. Bone-in thighs take longer to cook than boneless thighs, so adjust the cooking time if you make any substitutions.
  • Lemons: Acid (like lemon juice) is one of the three major components when you make a marinade. The acidic component tenderizes the meat by breaking down the muscle fibers. Our marinade also uses lemon zest to add a bold punch of citrusy flavor and aroma. (Here’s how to zest a lemon, with or without a zester.)
  • Olive oil: Fat (like olive oil) is the second component of a good marinade. It transfers flavor from the seasonings into the chicken and helps the meat retain moisture as it cooks.
  • Marinade seasonings: Flavor (like herbs and spices) is the final marinade component. We use Mediterranean spices like garlic, oregano, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper to add herbaceous, savory and slightly spicy elements.

Directions

Step 1: Make the lemon chicken marinade

Ingredients in small bowl ready for mixingTMB Studio

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper until blended. Reserve 1/3 cup of the marinade. Cover and refrigerate the reserved marinade.

Editor’s Tip: It’s not safe to reuse marinade that comes into contact with raw meat. So, we set aside some of this flavorful marinade for later use as a dressing.

Step 2: Marinate the chicken

Marinating Chicken in small bowlTMB Studio

Pour the remaining marinade into a shallow dish. Add the chicken, and turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: This isn’t one of those recipes that should marinate overnight. Over-marinating can cause the chicken to become mushy and excessively lemony.

Step 3: Grill the chicken

Drain the chicken, and discard the marinade in the dish.

Place chicken on a grill rack, skin side down. Grill, covered, over medium heat for six to eight minutes. Turn the chicken, and continue to grill until a thermometer reads 170° to 175°, six to eight minutes longer.

Step 4: Plate the grilled chicken

Remove the chicken to a serving platter. Drizzle it with the reserved 1/3 cup marinade. If desired, top with crumbled feta, parsley, and lemon slices.

Greek Lemon Chicken served with rice and lemon slicesTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Use another type of chicken: You can make Greek lemon chicken with chicken drumsticks or boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can even use the marinade to grill a whole chicken! Each chicken cut cooks differently, so use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of your cooked chicken.
  • Add fresh herbs: Ramp up the herbaceous flavors by adding fresh rosemary or thyme to the marinade.

How to Store Greek Lemon Chicken

Store Greek lemon chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat the chicken in a 350° oven or air fryer until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°. Or remove the chicken from the bone, and use it in your favorite leftover chicken recipes.

Can you freeze Greek lemon chicken?

Yes, you can freeze Greek lemon chicken. Once cooked, remove the meat from the bone. Freeze the chicken in a freezer-safe container for up to four months. Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Greek Lemon Chicken Tips

Greek Lemon Chicken served with rice and lemon slicesTMB Studio

Can you make Greek lemon chicken without a grill?

This Greek lemon chicken recipe easily translates to other cooking methods. After marinating the chicken, cook the chicken thighs on a sheet pan in the oven using the technique outlined in our crispy baked chicken thighs recipe (or cook the chicken over root vegetables for skillet-roasted lemon chicken and potatoes). If you have an air fryer, try making air-fryer chicken thighs.

What do you serve with Greek lemon chicken?

Serve Greek lemon chicken with roasted vegetables, a refreshing Greek salad or grain salads like Greek pasta salad or tabouleh. To turn grilled chicken into a light meal, pair it with mezze dishes like beet hummus, whipped feta dip and pita bread.

Grilled Greek Lemon Chicken

Prep Time 15min
Cook Time 15 min
Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • Optional: Crumbled feta cheese, minced parsley and sliced lemon

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the first 8 ingredients until blended. Reserve 1/3 cup marinade. Pour remaining marinade into a shallow dish. Add chicken; turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.
  2. Drain chicken, discarding marinade in dish.
  3. Place chicken on grill rack, skin side down. Grill, covered, over medium heat 6-8 minutes. Turn; grill until a thermometer reads 170°-175°, 6-8 minutes longer.
  4. Remove chicken to a serving platter; drizzle with remaining 1/3 cup marinade. If desired, top with crumbled feta, parsley, and lemon slices.

Nutrition Facts

1 chicken thigh: 359 calories, 26g fat (6g saturated fat), 107mg cholesterol, 165mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 30g protein.

This grilled Greek lemon chicken is so easy to make yet so full of flavor! The lemon and oregano flavors shine in this simple dish. It pairs perfectly with some roasted vegetables or a side salad. —Courtney Stultz, Weir, Kansas