Greek chicken with lemon and oregano, or Kotopoulo riganato as it is called in Greek, is a rustic recipe of chicken served with plenty of lemon and oregano. The chicken is prepared on the stovetop, fried until browned on all sides, and then boiled in a liquid that becomes a thickened lemon and oregano sauce.
Greek chicken recipes are some of my favourites, and this one is not exception. If you have ever tried Greek chicken with lemon potatoes, or Greek marinated chicken thighs you will know that simple is key! A few ingredients that you likely already have on hadn
Why I love this recipe
Kotopoulo riganato (or as our mom refers to it, kota riganati) is village food at its best. This was a recipe that was made relatively often when our Mama was a young girl, living with her family in the mountainous village of Romiri, Messinia. There are very few ingredients involved, and all of them were easily available to the family; they raised chickens, had lemon and olive trees, and the wild oregano grew everywhere. If any food represents living off the land and using humble ingredients to create something magical, this is it. Kotopoulo riganato, or chicken with lemon and oregano, is one of those recipes that you will turn to again and again.
When made in the village, kotopoulo riganato was cooked outdoors, in the wood burning oven built large enough for several families to use at once. These ovens, fashioned out of stone and clay were useful in many ways. They kept the heat from cooking out of the home, did not require electricity, and I have to imagine, they made any food cooked in them that much tastier.
Still, even with a modern oven, cooking kotopoulo riganoto on the stove top will produce an amazing meal of chicken with lemon and oregano. Perhaps surprising given the simple and common ingredients, but trust me – this is going to become one of your favourite comfort meals.
Chicken I use a whole chicken that I cut into 8 serving pieces
Dry oregano Greek oregano has such a wonderful aroma and is a key ingredient in this recipe
Olive oil I always use top quality Greek olive oil
Lemon Freshly squeezed lemon juice is always preferred to bottled lemon juice
Flour All-purpose or regular flour (sometimes called plain flour) helps to thicken the sauce
Water After frying your chicken will finish cooking by being boiled
Salt and pepper Basic seasonings used in this recipe
Do not use an entire chicken
Although I always opt to use an entire chicken because I find that it is more economical, and more accommodating (some people prefer dark meat, others light meat), you can certainly use only chicken thighs, chicken drumsticks or even chicken breasts.
How to make it
Sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the chicken pieces, followed by the oregano. Set aside for a few minutes.
Pour olive oil into a large, deep frying pan (use enough so that the oil is ¼ of an inch deep)
Heat the olive oil on medium heat and begin frying your chicken pieces until they are browned on all sides; this should take about 7-10 minutes total. Avoid overcrowding your pan; you will probably have to brown your chicken in two batches.
Transfer the browned chicken to a large pot or wok.
Strain the oil that you used to fry the chicken, and pour it over the chicken in the pot.
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and the flour until there are no clumps and then add in the water and stir to combine. Pour this over the chicken.
Cover your pot and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until your chicken is cooked through.
Serve your chicken with the sauce from the pot poured over it.
Cooking tips and helpful hints
Few ingredients mean that it is really important to ensure that each ingredient is of the highest quality. For me, that means organic chicken, fresh lemons, exceptional Greek olive oil and dry Greek oregano.
If you are going to use a whole chicken, you can learn how to carve it by checking out this video.
Frequently asked questions
Do we need to use an entire chicken for chicken with lemon and oregano?
Nope! If you don’t feel like carving a chicken, or are planning to half the recipe, you can substitute the whole chicken for chicken breasts, chicken thighs or whatever else you like. We do suggest keeping the skin on and having the bone-in. This is going to give you the most flavourful result. However, if you. are watching your diet, feel free to use skinless chicken pieces as well.
Can I use fresh oregano instead of dry?
I wouldn’t recommend it because I find that dry oregano, particularly Greek dry oregano has a much more pronounced and delicious aroma and flavour. The two really are not interchangeable in most recipes (at least, not in Mia Kouppa recipes) and I very rarely cook with fresh oregano. I do like to snip it into small pieces and add it to salads however.
Can we use bottled lemon juice for this recipe?
You could, but I would really prefer that you don’t. There is nothing like freshly squeezed lemon juice. Even the best quality bottled lemon juice can’t compare – unless of course you have really sad lemons. Here’s a hint! When you find exceptional lemons, or great lemons on sale, squeeze them and freeze the juice! Then you can use this to make all sorts of delicious recipes that feature lemons, like Avgolemono (egg and lemon) soup with chicken (Σούπα αυγολέμονο με κοτόπουλο), or Lemon ricotta cookies or even Broccoli with olive oil and lemon (Μπρόκολο με ελαιόλαδο και λεμόνι).
How to serve
Since you will end up with a delicious sauce, it goes without saying that you should serve this chicken with a loaf of bread. You will find some of the best bread recipes here.
Aside from the bread, be sure to put out some feta, some olives, and a side dish. I love to serve kotopoulo riganato with either homemade french fries, or easy oven baked potatoes. Add some green with a delicious vegetable like rapini (Ραπίνι) or broccoli with olive oil and lemon (Μπρόκολο με ελαιόλαδο και λεμόνι), and you have a complete, nutritious, and delicious meal.
How to reheat
If you have made your kotopoulo riganoto ahead of time and are going to be reheating it, the simplest way to do so is in the microwave. Alternatively, you can return everything (chicken and sauce) to the pot and turn the heat on to a medium low. Cook until just cooked through, but be sure not to burn your pot.
Looking for more Greek chicken recipes? Check these out:
Hilopites with chicken (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με χυλοπίτες): Total comfort food of small pasta and chicken cooked in a tomato based sauce
Green beans baked with chicken and potatoes A complete meal and so delicious. This is rustic Greek cooking at its best.
Greek Chicken with Chickpeas Filling, full of protein, and so flavourful. Everyone loves this recipe!
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Chicken with lemon and oregano (Kotopoulo riganato)
- 1 large, deep frying pan
- 1 large pot
- 1 fine strainer
- 1 chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces, skin on
- 2 tbsp dry Greek oregano
- 1 tbsp salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup olive oil approximately, for frying. See Recipe Note
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons flour
- ⅔ cup water
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the chicken pieces, followed by the oregano. Set aside for a few minutes.1 chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces, skin on, 2 tbsp dry Greek oregano, 1 tbsp salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Pour olive oil into a large, deep frying pan (use enough so that the oil is ¼ of an inch deep)1 cup olive oil
- Heat the olive oil on medium heat and begin frying your chicken pieces until they are browned on all sides; this should take about 7-10 minutes total. Avoid overcrowding your pan; you will probably have to brown your chicken in two batches.
- Transfer the browned chicken to a large pot or wok.
- Strain the oil that you used to fry the chicken, and pour it over the chicken in the pot.
- In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and the flour until there are no clumps and then add in the water and stir to combine. Pour this over the chicken.½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons flour, ⅔ cup water
- Cover your pot and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until your chicken is cooked through.
- Serve your chicken with the sauce from the pot poured over it.