This succulent lavender chicken recipe is one of my favorite poultry dishes. I used to serve this dish to potential romantic partners. (Get the full story here.) 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 a twist in 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.
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. To me, this is how you turn ordinary chicken breasts into the highlight of a romantic dinner.
Using this lavender technique 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.
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.
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.
Can you substitute 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. Then let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.
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.
Lemon Zest, Rosemary and Lavender Chicken Breasts
- 2 10- oz bone-in skin on, chicken breast halves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp minced fresh lavender
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine rosemary, lavender, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
- Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a second small bowl.
- Spread a portion of the dry rub under the loosened skin of the chicken breast, and make three slashes in the skin. Brush skin with lemon juice and olive oil mixture.
- 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.
- Remove the chicken from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving.
Diane Brown is the author of The Seduction Cookbook: Culinary Creations For Lovers
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