This Italian chicken dish is cooked in a gorgeous fresh herb and garlic wine sauce and then sprinkled with lemon and olives. The chicken is juicy, flavorful, and full of Italian goodness.
This authentic Italian recipe comes from the Garfagnana area in Tuscany, Italy. The area is off the beaten path with small villages and farms, almost like a trip back in time. The food is hearty with local, seasonal ingredients, which makes for tasty meals. I learned this recipe from our cooking instructor Alessandra when I was there on vacation. She recommended it for family dinners and for picnics served cold.
When I came home from the trip, I further tested the recipe. I especially like to make it for spring dinners and Passover when fresh herbs come to life in the garden. Use any combination of fresh herbs that you like including parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, and tarragon. Plus, the garlic, lemon, and olives add more layers of flavor. The olive oil and wine keep the chicken moist and juicy, which makes a winning recipe for more holidays like shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and Hanukkah.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's easy to prepare.
- The cooking liquid helps the chicken stay juicy.
- The herbs are so fresh and flavorful.
Recipe inspiration: I like to take a cooking class while on vacation to gain a view into the regional cuisine and lifestyle. My kids enjoyed this class too- Alessandra took them on a hunt around the Al Benefizio farm to pick fresh herbs for this chicken dish. Also, recipes from a class are a wonderful souvenir from a trip. Recreating the food at home is a delicious way to back memories of the trip.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
See the recipe card below for a complete ingredient list and measurements.Jump to Recipe
- Chicken - The cooking time in the recipe card is for boneless skinless chicken breasts. However, the recipe can be made with dark meat and/or bone-in chicken for additional cooking time.
- Mixed fresh herbs - Fresh herbs are the centerpiece of the dish. Use 2 to 4 different varieties of your choice like rosemary, sage, thyme, tarragon, or parsley. Dried herbs won't have the same effect.
- Garlic - Also one of the essential flavors of the dish.
- Olive oil - Olive oil lends an authenticity to the dish. Can substitute with avocado oil.
- White wine - something fruity like a Chablis to add acidity. Choose a wine you would drink.
- Tuscan black olives - Make sure the olives are pitted. If you can't find Tuscan olives, Kalamata olives work well too. Or substitute with capers (rinse off excess salt).
- Lemon - If you don't have lemon, you can leave it out.
Step by Step Photos
See the recipe card below for complete directions.Jump to Recipe
Italian Herb Chicken is ready in a few easy steps.
Next add wine and let it mostly evaporate. Add the lemon and olives, and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
- Cook with all your senses, including hearing. Alessandra doesn't measure the wine when making his recipe. She pours straight from the bottle into the hot pan and listens to the wine as it "sings." As the wine hits the hot pan, it bubbles and makes a sizzling noise. The sound goes up in pitch until it hits a crescendo. Then, all of a sudden, the volume gets softer. Right at that moment, she stops adding the wine.
- Keep herbs fresh longer by cutting off the very bottoms of the stems and placing them in a cup with a little water like cut flowers. Cover loosely with a plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator.
- Never have overcooked, dry chicken again. Use an instant read thermometer to know when the chicken is done cooking. Probe the center of the thickest part of the chicken. It's done when the thermometer reads 160ºF (chef's preference, or USDA recommends 165ºF).
- Add a little more salt if you ever feel that your chicken tastes too plain.
Mezzaluna: Italians chop herbs with a kitchen tool called a mezzaluna. It cuts herbs without bruising and mushing them. I find it fast and easy to use. Just hold the handles and rock the blade back and forth quickly over the ingredients.
This mezzaluna looks like the one I received in Italy as a gift from Erica of Sapori e Saperi Travel who organized our trip.
The chicken can be seasoned with salt and pepper earlier in the day or the night before and kept covered in the refrigerator. This would eliminate the marinate time just before cooking.
I prefer to eat this chicken dish warm within a half hour of when it's done cooking. However, this dish can be prepared and cooked the day before, refrigerated, and then served cold the next day.
Storage and Reheating
How to store: Store in a covered dish in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to freeze: Cooked chicken can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months if wrapped well. However, I think this dish tastes best eaten when it's made.
How to reheat: Add a little water. Re-heat on the stove or a 300ºF oven for about 10 minutes. Take care not to over-cook.
What to serve with Italian Herb Chicken
- A green vegetable like steamed or roasted broccoli or asparagus.
- Serve on a bed of couscous to soak up the extra juices or try quinoa, mashed potatoes, farro, or rice.
- Crispy smashed potatoes
- A Flourless Chocolate Nutella Cake or Italian Chocolate Chip cookies for a fully Italian meal.
Other Chicken recipes
Frequently Asked Questions
Rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, tarragon, parsley, basil, sage, marjoram, cilantro, or oregano pair well with chicken. A blend of mixed herbs is especially tasty on chicken.
It takes about 20 minutes to cook chicken breasts on the stove, provided that they are not thin cutlets or extra large and thick. The best way to know when chicken is fully cooked is to insert a thermometer probe into the center of the thickest part of the chicken. The internal temperature should read 160ºF (for chef's preference or 165ºF as recommended by the USDA).
- 1-⅓ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast or can be made with dark meat or bones/skin
- 1 teaspoon Diamond kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 lemon peeled and sliced in thin rings
- ½ cup very finely chopped fresh mixed herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, and/or tarragon, which is about 4 large handfuls of leaves before they are chopped.
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup white wine something fruity like a Chablis
- 30 pitted black Tuscan olives or Kalamata
- Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, and top with lemon slices. Let marinate for about 30 minutes.
- In a 10 - 12" skillet, cook the herbs and garlic in olive oil on a low flame for about 3 minutes. Turn the flame to medium and add the chicken (without the lemons), using tongs or a spatula to coat both sides of the chicken in the herb mixture. Lightly brown the chicken for about 5 minutes on both sides. Scrap and move around any extra herbs/garlic so they don't burn.
- Pour in white wine, and make sure that the flame is high enough for it to boil so that the wine will reduce by evaporation, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon slices and olives.
- Check the chicken for doneness; cook a few minutes more if needed. Add in a little water if chicken starts to get dry. Chicken is done when the internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken reaches 160ºF (chef's preference; USDA recommends 165ºF.)