This succulent lavender chicken recipe is one of my favorite poultry dishes. An aromatic chicken dish, it uses a flavorful rub to season bone-in chicken breasts. Figuring out what’s for dinner has never been easier!
I used to serve this dish to potential romantic partners. If they fell in love with the flavors of fresh lavender flowers, they were in. But if the reaction was less than enthusiastic, I knew it wasn’t a love match. A recipe that’s a barometer of love – now that’s a dish!
How to use lavender to flavor chicken
This recipe is my twist on classic chicken with rosemary and citrus. Rosemary and chicken is a fairly common flavor combination for chicken recipes. But I’ve taken a fairly classic lemon rosemary chicken and challenged the palate a little bit with the added complexity of fresh lavender flowers. Basically, my version is lemon lavender chicken with a hint of rosemary. And I think it will put any rosemary chicken recipe to shame!
To make the lavender rub
For the rub, you simply combine fresh lavender flowers with garlic, rosemary and lemon zest. Reserve the lemon juice – that’s for the next step. The trick to making a great poultry rub with this recipe is to chop the rosemary and garlic as finely as possible.
Slide the herbs under the skin for the best flavor
Just as you would with most herbed chicken breast recipes, I flavor the meat by sliding a dry rub of rosemary and lavender under the skin. If you don’t like the feeling of touching raw chicken meat, you can always wear gloves. But it is important to get the rub as evenly dispersed under the skin as you possibly can.
Brush the skin before cooking
Before you cook the chicken breast, make three slits in the skin of each breast you’re cooking. (This recipe doubles very well.) You’re going to take the lemon juice and olive oil mixture and brush it over the skin. You are not going to baste during cooking – this recipe is extremely simple – so you should use all of the mixture now. And don’t forget to generously season the meat with salt and pepper before cooking.
Why I use bone-in chicken breasts for this broiled chicken recipe
This lavender-flavored chicken recipe calls for using bone-in breasts. Bone-in cooking is really the preferred way to cook white meat chicken. White meat can dry out quickly but meat cooked on the bone and you get more evenly cooked succulent chicken.
The bone helps evenly distribute the heat of the broiler. Additionally, the skin will help protect the outer layer of the meat from drying out. Even if cooking chicken on the bone seems more complicated than buying skinless breasts, I encourage you to start cooking your meat on the bone to enjoy the most flavorful, juicy meat.
Substituting with chicken thighs
I use chicken breasts for this recipe because I prefer white meat. But if you, or more importantly the partner or potential partner who will be joining you for this romantic meal prefers dark meat, by all means, cook what you love.
Just remember that dark meat has a higher fat content and takes longer to cook than white meat. Be sure to use bone-in thighs and cook them to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. (Check this with a meat thermometer.) Then let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.
How to use this lavender flavoring in other savory recipes
If the flavor is one that piques your interest, try adding lavender to other savory recipes. Fresh, it can be used like any herb and the technique above can be used with turkey, duck or pork as well as chicken.
Substituting with dried lavender
Just one note about using lavender in cooking. This recipe uses fresh lavender flowers. But if you’re using dried lavender flowers, use them sparingly or you may make your dish taste like hand lotion. For this recipe, I would use about 1/2-3/4 teaspoons and make sure the dried flowers are finely chopped.
Making lavender the theme of your romantic dinner
As I mentioned, this is my date night dish. I’m a firm believer in the aphrodisiac power of lavender. And when I’m making it for a romantic evening, I like to serve these lavender, lemony chicken breasts as a part of a whole lavender-themed menu.
Consider serving this succulent chicken before my other lavender favorite, Lavender Crème Brûlée for dessert. It’s a great date night choice because it can be made in advance. And it doubles your chances of getting the aphrodisiac side of lavender to work in your favor.
Easy Lavender Chicken Breasts
- 2 10-oz bone-in skin on, chicken breast halves
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary finely minced
- 1 tbsp fresh lavender flowers finely minced
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine rosemary, lavender, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
- Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a second small bowl.
- Spread the dry rub under the loosened skin of each chicken breast.*
- Make three slashes in the skin of each breast. Brush skin with lemon juice and olive oil mixture. Then season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Heat broiler and adjust oven rack to lowest position under broiler flame.
- Place chicken breasts skin side down on the broiler rack.
- Broil chicken on bottom rack until just beginning to brown, about 12 minutes.
- Using tongs, turn chicken skin side up and continue to broil for 10 more minutes.
- Place broiler pan on highest rack setting until skin begins to brown and crisp, about one minute. (Note that it can burn very easily during this step so do not leave it unattended.)
- Remove the chicken from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
A note on the provided nutrition informationThe nutrition information provided has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Diane Brown is the author of The Seduction Cookbook: Culinary Creations For Lovers
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This recipe was published in 2010 and updated in 2023 to include nutritional information and to tweak instructions slightly for clarity.
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