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Air Fryer Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Bake

Air fryer Greek lemon chicken and rice bake balances vibrant flavours and wholesome ingredients, making it a perfect dish for any season, especially summer. This one-pan wonder simplifies cooking while delivering a satisfying, delicious meal.

Air Fryer Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Bake

Whether you’re hosting a summer gathering or preparing a family dinner, this dish promises to impress. It combines succulent bone-in chicken thighs, fragrant herbs, and tangy lemon, all nestled in a bed of savory rice. 

Just a heads up, this post contains Amazon affiliate links. Don’t worry, these are products I personally love and recommend. If you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Happy cooking and thanks for supporting Culinary Cartel!

Why Air Fryer Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Bake Is the Perfect Summer Dish

Summer calls for meals that are light and flavourful, capturing the essence of the season’s fresh produce. Air fryer Greek lemon chicken and rice bake is the perfect summer dish because it leverages the zesty brightness of lemon, the earthiness of oregano, and the richness of olive oil, all staples in Mediterranean cuisine. It is easy to prepare, minimising kitchen time, and it’s baked in a single tray, making cleanup a breeze. Plus, it’s packed with protein, healthy fats, and vibrant herbs, offering a nutritious, indulgent meal perfect for warm-weather dining.

The Prominence of Lemon in Greek Recipes

Lemon is a cornerstone of Greek cuisine. It imparts a fresh, tangy flavour that brightens dishes and balances richer ingredients. In Greek cooking, lemon is a flavour enhancer, meat tenderiser, and key ingredient in many sauces and marinades. The acidity of lemon pairs beautifully with olive oil and herbs like oregano and dill, creating a refreshing and robust blend.

The Benefits of Using Bone-In Chicken Thighs

Choosing bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe is crucial for several reasons:

  • Flavour: The bone adds a depth of flavour to the chicken, enriching the overall taste of the dish.
  • Juiciness: Bone-in thighs tend to be juicier than their boneless counterparts, preventing the chicken from drying out during the baking process.
  • Economy: Bone-in cuts are often more affordable, making this dish budget-friendly without compromising on taste.

The Significance of Using Hot Chicken Stock

Using hot chicken stock instead of cold or room-temperature stock is a critical step in this recipe. Hot stock helps to maintain an even cooking temperature, ensuring the rice cooks uniformly and absorbs the flavours more effectively. Starting with hot stock also reduces the overall cooking time and prevents the rice from becoming mushy or unevenly cooked. This small but significant detail contributes to the perfect texture and taste of the dish.

Air Fryer Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Bake

Different Types of Oregano

Oregano is a key herb in this recipe, and there are several types to consider:

  • Greek Oregano (Rigani): Known for its robust and earthy flavour, Greek oregano is ideal for this dish as it complements the lemon and chicken perfectly.
  • Italian Oregano: Slightly milder than Greek oregano, it can be used if Greek oregano is unavailable, though the flavour profile will be less intense.
  • Mexican Oregano: This type has a more citrusy and peppery flavour, which can add an interesting twist to the dish if substituted.

Ingredient Substitutions

Here are some substitutions you can make without compromising the air fryer Greek lemon chicken and rice bake’s integrity:

  • Chicken Thighs: Substitute with bone-in chicken drumsticks or breast for a different texture. Remeber, a chicken breast will take a lot quicker to cook than a bone in thigh, so ensure the rice is nearly cooked nestling the chicken breast deep into the rice. Nestling it in the rice will aid steaming, and this will help prevent the chicken breast (a lean cut) going dry
  • Rice: Use basmati or jasmine rice for a slightly different flavour profile.
  • Oregano: Substitute with thyme or marjoram if oregano is unavailable.
  • Olives: Kalamata or green olives can be used interchangeably based on preference.
  • Yoghurt: Greek yoghurt is preferred, but plain yoghurt or a plant-based alternative can also work.

Sourcing the Best Ingredients

Simple methods call for good ingredients. As always opt for the quality you can afford. To achieve the best results, sourcing high-quality ingredients is essential. Here are some tips:

  • Chicken: Opt for organic, free-range chicken thighs for the best flavour and ethical considerations. As the cornerstone of the dish this is where you spend a little more even if you need to opt for bottled lemon juice and dried herbs for the remainder. 
  • Lemons: Choose fresh, unwaxed, firm lemons with bright, smooth skin. Organic lemons are ideal since you will be using the zest.
  • Olive Oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for its superior taste and health benefits.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs provide the best flavour, but high-quality dried herbs can be used if fresh are not available.
  • Stock: Homemade chicken stock is best, but high-quality store-bought stock works in a pinch.

Shop the Equipment

These are Amazon affiliate links to products I love and recommend. If you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Metal conducts heat more efficiently than ceramic, making it the best option in this recipe for an evenly cooked pilaf. Click here for our favourite air fryer-friendly roasting tray, or use one from your cupboard.

Instant Digital Large Air Fryer Oven

Instant Vortex Plus VersaZone Dual Air Fryer

Enjoyed This Air Fryer Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Bake ?

If you made this air fryer Greek lemon chicken and rice bake, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so I can see what you come up with.

Looking for more chicken bakes?

Chicken and Rice with Lime Chimichurri and Greek Yoghurt

Chicken and Kale Gnocchi Bake

Crispy Chicken With Creamy Beans And Greens

Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use bone-in chicken thighs?

Choosing bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe is crucial for several reasons:

  • Flavour: The bone adds a depth of flavour to the chicken, enriching the overall taste of the dish.
  • Juiciness: Bone-in thighs tend to be juicier than their boneless counterparts, preventing the chicken from drying out during the baking process.
  • Economy: Bone-in cuts are often more affordable, making this dish budget-friendly without compromising on taste.

Can I use boneless chicken thighs?

Yes, but bone-in thighs add more flavour and moisture to the dish. If using boneless, reduce the cooking time slightly to prevent drying out.

Why should I use hot stock?

Hot stock helps to maintain an even cooking temperature, ensuring the rice cooks uniformly and absorbs the flavours more effectively. It also reduces the overall cooking time and prevents the rice from becoming mushy or unevenly cooked.

How can I make this dish vegetarian?

Substitute the chicken with large portobello mushrooms or hearty vegetables like eggplant and zucchini. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Are there different types of oregano?

Oregano is a key herb in this recipe, and there are several types to consider:

  • Greek Oregano (Rigani): Known for its robust and earthy flavour, Greek oregano is ideal for this dish, as it perfectly complements the lemon and chicken.
  • Italian Oregano: Slightly milder than Greek oregano, it can be used if Greek oregano is unavailable, though the flavour profile will be less intense.
  • Mexican Oregano: This type has a more citrusy and peppery flavour, and if substituted, it can add an interesting twist to the dish.

 

What type of rice is best for this recipe?

Long-grain white rice works well, but you can also use basmati or jasmine rice for a fragrant twist.

 

Can I substitute any of the ingredients?

Here are some substitutions you can make without compromising the dish’s integrity:

  • Chicken Thighs: Substitute with bone-in chicken drumsticks or breast for a different texture. See the detailed notes above  under ingredient substitutions. 
  • Rice: Use basmati or jasmine rice for a slightly different flavour profile.
  • Oregano: Substitute with thyme or marjoram if oregano is unavailable.
  • Olives: Kalamata or green olives can be used interchangeably based on preference.
  • Yoghurt: Greek yoghurt is preferred, but plain yoghurt or a plant-based alternative can also work.


How do I ensure I source the best ingredients?

To achieve the best results, sourcing high-quality ingredients is essential. Here are some tips:

  • Chicken: Opt for organic, free-range chicken thighs for the best flavour and ethical considerations.
  • Lemons: Choose fresh, firm lemons with bright, smooth skin. Organic lemons are ideal since you will be using the zest.
  • Olive Oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for its superior taste and health benefits.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs provide the best flavour, but high-quality dried herbs can be used if fresh are not available.
  • Stock: Homemade chicken stock is best, but high-quality store-bought stock works in a pinch.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the components ahead and assemble them just before baking. Keep the rice mixture and chicken refrigerated until ready to cook.

Can I freeze leftovers?

Yes, the cooked dish can be frozen. Allow it to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. Reheat in the oven for best results.

Air Fryer Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Bake
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Air Fryer Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Bake

Air Fryer Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Bake


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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 portions

Description

Air fryer Greek lemon chicken and rice bake balances vibrant flavours and wholesome ingredients, making it a perfect dish for any season, especially summer. This one-pan wonder simplifies cooking while delivering a satisfying, delicious meal.


Ingredients

Units
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried Greek oregano
  • 1 lemon
  • Small handful of dill (13g/half a bunch)
  • Small handful of (10g) parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 100g punnet olives
  • 1 cup yoghurt

Instructions

  1. Peel and thinly slice the onion and garlic.
  2. Place onion and garlic in a suitably sized metal roasting tray. Zest in half the lemon and drizzle over a little olive oil. Toss to coat and form the onions into a pile (which helps prevent burning and encourages a steamy cook).
  3. Cook the onions and garlic:
    In the air fryer: cook at 190°C for 5 minutes, stirring halfway. If using a stacked “oven” style air fryer, be sure to insert your rack into the middle.
    In the oven: cook at 190°C for 5 minutes, stirring halfway.
  4. Once the onions and garlic are softened, add rice, hot chicken stock, remaining lemon zest, and oregano.
    Place the rice back into the air fryer or oven to par-cook.
    In the air fryer: cook at 170°C for 12 minutes. If using a stacked “oven” style air fryer, be sure to insert your rack into the middle.
    In the oven: cook at 190°C for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the rice from the oven/air fryer. Nestle the chicken thighs in an even layer. Slice the zested lemon and nestle it between the thighs.
  6. Place back into the air fryer or oven to cook until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and the chicken is crisp and golden.
    In the air fryer: cook at 170°C for 25-30 minutes.For extra crispy skin, move the chicken closer to the heating element in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
    In the oven: cook at 190°C for 25-30 minutes.
  7. Prepare the olive salsa. Chop herbs and olives. Mix with olive oil.
  8. Remove the chicken from the oven or air fryer and let it rest. Squeeze one lemon half into the olive salsa. Lift the chicken from the rice and squeeze the other lemon half into the rice. Season the yoghurt with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve by smearing yoghurt on a plate. Top with rice and chicken. Finish with olive salsa. Enjoy your meal.
  • Cook Time: 55 min
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Air fryer or oven
  • Cuisine: Greek
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