Lemon Chicken with Honey and Saffron

Prep Time: 3-7 hours, depending how long you choose to marinate the chicken (20 minutes hands-on time)

Meal Notes: I love that I can throw this Spanish recipe in the fridge to marinate for a flexible 2-6 hours while running errands on busy weekends, then come home to only few minutes of prep before the chicken is ready to bake. For a fast meal, serve with rice. If you have more time, consider serving with Baked Potatoes, Onions, and Tomatoes and/or roasted broccoli.

Source: The New Spanish Table cookbook by Anya van Bremzen



  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken breasts (or use boneless and reduce baking time)

  • Sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 6 teaspoons honey

  • 1 large pinch saffron threads

  • 1 large onion

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds*


  • Prep: Trim excess fat from chicken and cut breasts in half. Pulverize saffron threads in a mortar and steep in 1 Tablespoon very hot water. In a small bowl or cup, combine one teaspoon honey with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Quarter and thinly slice the onion. Set aside.

  • Season the chicken chicken: Place chicken in either a clay pot (cazuela), dutch oven, or glass baking dish. Rub the chicken all over with salt, cumin, ginger, and coriander. Let stand for 15 minutes.

  • Marinate the chicken: After 15 minutes, prick the chicken all over with the tines of a fork. Place the lemon juice, 5 teaspoons of the honey and the saffron liquid in a small bowl. Whisk to mix, then pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover the chicken with saran wrap and refrigerate for 2-6 hours, turning several times.

  • Cook the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from the refrigerator and place it in a bowl, so it can come to room temperature before cooking. Scatter the thinly sliced onion in the pot/dish you used to marinate the chicken. Place the chicken on top of the onion. Using a basting brush, brush the chicken with the honey and olive oil mixture. Bake the chicken for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and continue baking until the chicken is cooked through, 10-15 more minutes.

  • Finish: Stir in the toasted sesame seeds before serving.

*Toasted Sesame Seeds: Because I make several recipes that use this ingredient, I often purchase pre-toasted sesame seeds as a time-saver. . However, if you have regular sesame seeds on-hand, you can easily toasts them yourself. Just pour them into a dry skillet and heat for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.