Kotopoulo Skorthato 

(Greek Lemon Garlic Chicken)

June: National Lemon Month

Toward the last year of our university studies, we befriended a new student from Crete. Christos H. was in the same education department as Islander and also went to our church. We would often go over to his rental house for Sunday dinners when our dorm cafeteria was closed. Fortunately, we got to partake in his homecooked Cretan and Greek meals, which often included the quick and affordable kotopoulo skorthato—chicken pieces baked in a lemony marinade with garlic, herbs and spices. Because Highlander had a lemon of a car, he was able to drive Christos to the grocery store to get the ingredients. Islander helped him in his kitchen and learned how easy it was to make this dish. More than three decades later, she still cooks this chicken on busy weeknights because it is simple to prepare and is tasty over rice or pasta. It’s a winner winner chicken dinner made with love and lemons! For National Lemon Month, cook up kotopoulo skorthato. 


(Inspired by Christos C.)


  • 1-2 pounds chicken thighs and legs, bone-in with skin
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper, crushed
  • 2 lemons, divided use


In a large bowl, stir the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the oregano, thyme and red pepper. 

Zest and juice one of the lemons and add to the olive oil mixture. Toss the chicken in the bowl and coat it in all the seasonings. Layer the chicken pieces in a baking pan. Cut the second lemon into 8 wedges and place them in between the chicken. Pour the remaining olive oil mixture over the pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a platter and spoon the pan juices over the chicken. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve hot with rice or pasta.


  • This lemon chicken recipe is Greek, made with olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices. For the Chinese/local Hawaiian lemon chicken recipe, made of deep-fried pieces and a thick and tangy sweet lemon sauce, please click here.
  • Search our blog for other sweet or savory lemon recipes.