12 Inspiring Recipes That Pair Chicken with Citrus ~ considering we each eat, on average, close to 100 pounds of chicken a year, having some good ‘juicy’ recipes up our sleeves is smart if we’re going to keep dinnertime fresh…
Citrus and chicken have been around for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that we really started to eat chicken for dinner in this country, and even later when we finally figured out that teaming up the two was a pretty good idea.
One of the most common ways to infuse citrus flavor into chicken is through a marinade. You can let the meat soak for an hour, or overnight to encourage the flavors to penetrate the chicken. Make sure you marinate your chicken in the refrigerator, not on the counter. And discard the marinade after use, do not use it as the base for a sauce unless you bring it to a complete boil before serving.
A basic citrus marinade recipe for chicken ~
You can change this up in countless ways, so memorize the proportions and go to town with what you’ve got This makes enough for 2 pounds of chicken. Remember to zest the citrus before you juice it.
- 1/2 cup fresh citrus juice ~ grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, or a combination
- 2 Tbsp grated citrus zest
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil ALT: any vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced ALT: ginger
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary ALT: thyme, cilantro, tarragon, dill
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- optional add-ins: jalapeño, mustard, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey.
Combine the marinade ingredients plus chicken in a zip lock freezer bag and massage to combine. Lay the bag flat on a plate and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. I like to flip the bag once or twice.
Interesting side note: America’s Test Kitchen did one of their famous tests on marinating and came to the conclusion that it is a waste of time! They found that after 18 hours of marinating, 30 taste testers (in a blind taste test) couldn’t tell the difference between chicken that had been marinated for 18 hours, and chicken that had not been marinated at all. Their conclusion: put the flavorings on after cooking, when you can really taste it. (See the full story here.) This is kind of mind blowing since most of us consider marinating to be the gold standard when it comes to getting flavor into meats and poultry.
This recipe screams of the sunny Mediterranean with rosy blood oranges and big juicy green olives. This never fails to get gasps when I set it on the table.
One of my earlier experiments with citrus and chicken, this interesting dish makes use of sweet Meyer lemons and Limoncello!
This is a favorite in my family and extended family ~ once you try it I’m pretty sure it will become a staple in your menu planning too. The chicken tenders are pan fried, finished in a light lemon sauce, and placed on a bed of crisp greens. Then it’s all drenched in a lemony buttermilk dressing!
Lemon brightens up this already beloved Indian dish. It’s a beautiful one pot meal with authentic flavor. Serve it with yogurt, chutney, and naan bread.
Warm spice and mixed citrus makes this easy sheet pan dinner a winner. Make it in citrus season and take advantage of all the special varieties that are available in mid-winter. Off season use regular naval oranges. Serve this right on the pan to show off the jewel tones of the citrus.
A gorgeously tangy soup that has a creamy texture without any dairy ingredients. The silky texture and flavor is amazing.
This Asian take on citrus chicken is one of the best ~ I use lots of tangerine juice and fresh zest to give it great flavor, and I think it’s better than any of the restaurant versions I’ve tried. I love how it pops against the black rice.
This classic Yotam Ottolenghi recipe from his seminal work Jerusalem pairs chicken with a powerful combination of citrus, mustard, brown sugar, fennel, and anise liquor.
This lemony dish is inspired by the glorious Greek lemon soup, avgolemono. There’s no dairy at all in this creamy lemon sauce, it’s thickened with…well, you’ll just have to visit the recipe to find out :)
This is a fun dish to make with limes, which are the most under-appreciated of all the citrus fruits, imo. Be sure to include Margaritas in your menu plan!
Threading thinly sliced lemon onto chicken skewers is an easy but effective way to pair chicken with citrus. If you slice them thin enough you can eat the charred lemon right along with the chicken.
This unique salad is dressed in a thick orange paste ~ it sounds weird, but trust me, this one is delicious! It’s an Ottolenghi recipe, so you know it has to be good.