These easy Braised Chicken Thighs are a fun switch from our regular rotation of rotisserie chicken, chicken parmesan, and crispy chicken wings, all of which are fabulous, but that we make often. The chicken thighs are first pan seared, then braised in chicken broth with a touch of heavy cream, a little vinegar, and lots of fennel, onion, and shallot.
We’ll add fresh herbs, lemon zest, and lemon juice to brighten up the flavors, then serve over creamy mashed potatoes (you can skip this, but if you do we highly recommend having some crusty baguette on standby to sop up that delicious braising sauce).
The chicken thighs are so tender, so juicy, and so flavorful! Even if you’re skeptical of fennel, this easy dinner recipe is a winner!!
Ingredients For Braised Chicken Thighs
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs! We’re using boneless skinless thighs, but you can certain use bone-in skin on
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 fennel bulbs, fronds reserved, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Low-sodium chicken broth or stock, about ½ cup
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest
- Fresh thyme or oregano, plus chives or chopped parsley for serving
You’ll need a large skillet with a tight fitting lid, as well as a spatula.
What Is Braising?
We absolutely love braising meats, and chicken fares particularly well! You’ll begin by pan searing, then add liquid to the pan and cook until the protein becomes tender. The end result is not just a beautiful piece of chicken (in this case), but a beautiful braising liquid to be spooned on top.
This is often why many braises (think pot roast, short ribs, shredded or pulled meats) are best served over mashed potatoes. To better absorb that beautiful braising sauce! Some braises finish cooking in an oven (often slow braising), but because chicken thighs are much smaller than, say, short ribs or pork shoulder, they can cook completely on the stove top (fast braising).
We love to use this Staub braiser with lid!
How To Braise Chicken Thighs
Season chicken thighs generously on both sides with Kosher salt and black pepper, then brown in a large skillet with olive oil or butter. (If using skin-on thighs, make sure to cook chicken skin side down.) The chicken will finish cooking in liquid, but for now just transfer it to a large plate.
Next, sauté thinly sliced fennel, onion, and shallot in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper, stir, then add garlic, fresh herbs (thyme or oregano), and lemon zest for added flavor. When the veggies have softened, add chicken stock, heavy cream, and sherry vinegar, then bring to a boil.
Return the chicken to the pan, tossing once to coat both sides with the sauce. Cover the skillet tightly, then simmer over medium-high heat until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F, about 6-9 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken).
Finish the sauce with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, then serve immediately with chopped fresh parsley or chives.
Our Favorite Side Dishes
We love serving braised chicken thighs over garlic mashed potatoes. If you need a vegetable, we love crispy roasted brussels sprouts or Sicilian cauliflower!
Here, we’re serving the braised chicken thighs with a simple arugula salad. It’s fresh baby arugula, a pinch of flaky sea salt, and a generous drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. Easy, light, healthy, and a beautiful contrast to the sweet onions and fennel.
The chicken is so tender and juicy! You may think you don’t like fennel, but it is so similar in flavor and texture to the sweet sautéed onions — if you are a fan of caramelized onions, there’s a strong chance you’ll love this dish!
If you make this Braised Chicken Thigh recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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More chicken recipes to try!
- Chicken Provencal
- Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- Green Chicken Chili Soup
- Za’atar Roasted Chicken
- Chicken Patties
Braised Chicken Thighs Recipe
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
- 1 ½ lb chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- 2 large fennel fronds removed, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (you can reserve the fronds for garnish, if you like)
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 medium shallots thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tsp Kosher salt divided
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper divided
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 2 Tbsp oregano or thyme, finely chopped
- Parsley or chives for serving
- Flaky sea salt for serving
- Brown the chicken. Season chicken thighs generously on both sides with 1 tsp Kosher salt and ¼ tsp black pepper. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil (or butter) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add half of the thighs and cook for 4 minutes per side, or until chicken easily pulls away from the pan. (If using skin-on thighs, make sure to cook chicken skin side down.) Transfer chicken to a large plate, then repeat with remaining thighs.
- Cook the fennel and onions. Add the thinly sliced fennel, onion, and shallot to the skillet. Season with remaining 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper, stir, then add garlic, 2 Tbsp chopped oregano (or thyme), and lemon zest. Stir well. Cook for 6-8 minuted until softened, then add ½ cup chicken stock, ¼ cup heavy cream, and 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar. Bring to a boil.
- Braise the chicken thighs. Return the chicken to the pan, tossing once to coat both sides with the sauce. Cover the skillet tightly, then simmer over medium-high heat until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F, about 6-9 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken).
- Garnish, then serve. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, then serve immediately with chopped fresh parsley or chives and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
Kristen Berry says
I made this last night with your garlic mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. It was delicious! The lemon zest during cooking and juice at the end really made it shine.
Onto sheet pan fajitas!
Ari Laing says
What a fabulously composed meal! Agree, the lemon makes the dish! xo, Ari
Just made this for my anniversary after snagging some fennel at the farmers’ market, it was sooo good. Very tender and flavorful. It’s so easy to make, as well! Served with sauteéd baby artichokes and lemony greens.
Ari Laing says
That sounds absolutely fantastic, Nicole! We love that this is easy, but so impressive in flavor. xo, Ari