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Baked chicken and rice (healthier Greek recipe)

This chicken and rice bake is a delicious Greek recipe for a healthy dinner. The brown rice and extra vegetables pair perfectly with the lemony-garlicky chicken thighs.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine gluten-free, Greek, Healthy, Mediterranean
Keyword Bake, chicken, oven, rice
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 634 kcal
Author Makos


  • 1.75 - 2 pounds (800-900 grams) skinless chicken thighs or drumsticks (boneless or not)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, in small cubes
  • 1/2 a carrot, in small cubes
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice (see notes)
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 1/4 cups hot water or chicken broth

For serving:

  • chopped parsley, Kalamata olives, feta cheese


  • 1 large deep cast iron skillet or an oven-safe deep saucepan. Otherwise use a regular saucepan for sauteing the chicken and a casserole or a 12-inch round baking pan for the oven.


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C)
  2. Saute the chicken: Place the skillet over high heat, add the olive oil and the meat and let it brown without stirring it (about 4 minutes). Once done from one side, flip the meat and brown from the other side for another 3-4 minutes.

  3. Saute the vegetables: Remove the chicken from the skillet and transfer it to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium/high and add the onion, the bell pepper and the carrot and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, the bay leaves, the lemon zest and the rice and cook for 1 more minute. Add the lemon juice, the oregano, the salt, the pepper and the hot water (or broth).

  4. Bake: Arrange the chicken over the rice and pour any juices from the plate into the pan. Sprinkle some additional salt over the chicken, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. After that, remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more.

  5. Serve with chopped parsley, Kalamata olives and feta cheese.

Recipe Notes

  • For the rice: You should use a brown rice that says it's cooked in 10 minutes. Brown basmati rice, white basmati and other long grain varieties will do as long as the packaging states that they need 10 minutes cooking time.
  • If your rice says it needs 20 minutes, then add 3 cups of water (or chicken broth) and check for doneness at the end of baking time. If it seems uncooked add another half a cup of hot water and continue baking for 5-10 minutes more.
  • For the chicken: You can use chicken breast instead of thighs (but they will be less juicy). If the chicken breasts are too big, saute them for 6 minutes each side and continue according to the recipe directions.
  • Don't use instant rice or risotto rice.
  • Don't use too much lemon zest because it can get bitter. Using grated ginger instead of lemon zest is an interesting variation.


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