How to make lemon chicken with basil-avocado cream, the perfect easy summer dinner recipe

After an especially warm day, it’s nice to sit down to a meal that’s as easy as it is refreshing. Salads often come to mind when we think of light, beat-the-heat meals, but a bowl of greens (even if it’s robust) can be lackluster and unsatisfying if it’s not packed with enough protein, nutrients and fiber.

The good news is, it’s easy to whip up a wholesome, delicious, cooling meal that’s just as simple as tossing together a salad, but way more satisfying.

Summer recipes are meant to be no-fuss, which means the ingredient list should be small. In the recipe that follows, there are very few ingredients, and many pull double duty in both the marinade and the dressing.

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Why this recipe is perfect — and flexible — for summer dinners

Chicken is slathered with lemon, garlic, and herbs and then pan-seared to caramelized perfection. This requires minimal effort, as the chicken cooks quickly (and no need to turn on the oven!). The satiny, basil-avocado cream sauce uses many of the same ingredients and comes together in seconds. Not only do the resulting flavors pair well, but they enhance each other for a tangy, garlicky restaurant-quality dish.


This recipe is also flexible, so you can adjust it to suit your family’s taste or to what you already have on hand. Chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders are interchangeable. Swap Italian seasoning for whatever herbs you have in your spice rack. Oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, and rosemary would all be excellent choices, as they are all included in Italian blends. When it comes to the garlic, fresh and dried achieve the same spectacular result.

There are many options for serving, but my favorite way to enjoy this dish is alongside fluffy wild rice and a handful of arugula drizzled with olive oil and lemon. 

Chicken and avocado are stars of this weeknight summer meal.
Chicken and avocado are stars of this weeknight summer meal.

Summer-Proof Lemon Chicken with Basil-Avocado Cream

Fast, forgiving and easily adaptable, this recipe makes use of what's likely already in your pantry. You can marinate the chicken for up to four hours, but when 30 minutes is all I have time for, it's still absolutely scrumptious.

Servings: 4


For the lemon chicken:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, or 8 thighs, or 8-10 chicken tenders (about 1 ¼pounds total)

  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for coating the pan

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning (or any dried herb)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 teaspoons minced dried garlic, or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the basil-avocado cream:

  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves

  • 1 whole ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 teaspoons minced dried garlic, or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • ¼ cup olive oil


1. Place chicken in a large freezer bag along with olive oil, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Seal the bag and turn to coat, pressing the marinade into the meat.

2. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

3. When ready to cook, coat an outdoor grill, grill pan, or skillet with olive oil and preheat to medium-high.

4. Remove chicken from marinade (discard the marinade) and place on the hot pan or grill. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until cooked through and still moist (a meat thermometer should register 165 F for all cuts of chicken).

5. Prepare the avocado cream. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. To serve, arrange the chicken on individual plates and top with a dollop of basil-avocado cream.


If you don't have garlic on hand, feel free to use minced dried garlic, a dehydrated garlic that's a quick-cook’s best friend! Substitute ½ teaspoon minced dried garlic (sometimes called garlic flakes) for one clove. If using garlic powder, ⅛ teaspoon can stand in for one clove.

If you don't have an Italian spice blend in your cupboard, use any combination of oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, and rosemary.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: This easy lemon chicken recipe is your best bet for hot summer days