Apricot jam chicken with lemon and Dijon mustard is a wonderful blend of sweet, tart and savory flavors. And it’s so easy to prepare for a simple weeknight meal or a special holiday dinner such as Hanukkah.
Another great recipe to try is my breaded lemon chicken with garlic-infused olive oil.
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I discovered this sweet, savory, tangy, and easy Jewish apricot chicken recipe years ago in a cookbook called: The Great Hadassah Wizo Cookbook, which my mother gave me almost 35 years ago. The original recipe, called Lemon Glazed Chicken, uses bone-in chicken pieces. We eat this chicken on an ordinary weeknight but it has also become a favorite for Hanukkah. Be sure to check out all of my Chanukah recipes for other main course, side dish and dessert ideas.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Quite simply — flexibility and flavor.
You can make this apricot jam chicken with boneless or bone-in pieces. I adapted it to boneless cuts to reduce the cooking time and make it easy to serve in a buffet, especially for family and holiday gatherings.
You can also prepare the sauce ahead of time or get the whole pan of chicken ready to go and cook it later or the next day. Or you can cook it ahead and reheat.
No matter how you time it, the flavors will always wow your eaters. I promise.
Ingredients for this recipe
If, like me, you always have some Dijon mustard in the house and you keep various jams in your pantry, you will likely always have what you need to make this apricot lemon chicken.
- Chicken: Use boneless breasts or thighs – whichever you prefer. Prefer bone-in? No problem, I give alternate baking instructions for that and it comes out fantastic.
- Apricot jam: The original recipe calls for apricot-pineapple jam. If you have that, use it. But I’ve gravitated over the years to just apricot jam. I love the flavor and usually can find a lower sugar version of it, which I prefer.
- Dijon mustard: Any brand of dijon mustard is fine or in a pinch, use a coarse grain mustard or spicy brown mustard.
- Lemons: You’ll need the zest, the juice and then enough to slice and lay on top of the chicken. Since you will be using the lemon and not just the juice, best to start with unwaxed or organic lemons. I am lucky that I have a meyer lemon tree in my backyard that produces year round. But any kind of lemon will work.
- Dried or fresh thyme: Adds a little extra layer of flavor but if you don’t have any, it will still be great!
How to prepare this recipe
1. Combine preserves, mustard, lemon rind, lemon juice, thyme, kosher salt and pepper in a medium size bowl.
2. Arrange your boneless skinless breasts or thighs (or bone-in) in the baking dish. If you are baking the chicken right away, pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish. Then lay a lemon slice on each piece of chicken.
3. Cook at 375 degrees for 30 minutes uncovered.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- You can prepare the sauce mixture for the apricot jam chicken ahead of time.
- You can prepare the pans of chicken and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them, even a day ahead of time.
- Or bake the chicken ahead and refrigerate and reheat for serving.
Yes, it works quite nicely. Bone-in allows the flavors to develop more as it cooks longer. You also get the color of the crispy skin. If you are serving bone-in breasts, ask your butcher to cut each one in two pieces for better portion sizes.
When you prepare this with bone-in chicken pieces, double the cooking time and add the lemon slices halfway through the cooking process. If you like your lemons slices really toasty (like me) add them at the beginning of the cooking process.
What makes this dish a Jewish chicken recipe?
While this apricot chicken comes from a Jewish-based community cookbook, it really is not “Jewish” chicken, other than that it is non-dairy which makes it ideal for those keeping kosher. And it makes a lovely main course for a Rosh Hashanah meal or Hanukkah meal, marrying with the latkes or kugel very nicely. It could even work for Passover!
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Apricot Jam Chicken
- 1 cup apricot-pineapple preserves or use apricot jam
- 1/3 cup dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 lemon sliced or 2 if they are small
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (optional – mustard may be enough salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 8 – 10 boneless skinless chicken breasts halves or an equivalent amt. of thighs or use bone-in chicken
- Cut your boneless skinless breasts or thighs into appropriate individual serving size pieces and arrange in the baking dish.
- Combine preserves, mustard, lemon rind, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium size bowl and whisk together. If you are baking the chicken right away, pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish. Then lay a lemon slice on each piece of chicken or evenly cover the whole baking dish with the slices.
- Cook at 375 degrees for 30 minutes uncovered. Or 325 convection for 40 minutes or 350 convection for 30 minutes.
- You can prepare the sauce mixture for the chicken ahead of time.
- If you are not cooking the chicken immediately after preparing the sauce, you can refrigerate the sauce or you can pour it over the chicken and then refrigerate the whole baking dish until you are ready to cook. Be sure to let it sit out of the fridge for 15 – 30 minutes before you put it in the oven, if you can.
- If you prepare this with bone-in chicken pieces instead, double the cooking time and add the lemon slices halfway through the cooking process. I love when the lemons slices get really toasty but if you prefer them less “burnt” add them halfway through the cooking.