Braised chicken thighs that come together with a few simple ingredients and make an easy weeknight meal. Only 15 minutes of hands on time. The result is a flavorful, one skillet meal of crispy chicken thighs nested in soft onions, loads of garlic, lemon and olives.
Chicken is a staple in our dinner rotation. Learning to braise chicken so the skin is crispy and the meat is tender was a game changer for me. Today I’m sharing a super simple braised chicken recipe that even the most basic of cooks can make. It’s one of those fancy pants recipes that seems complicated but actually takes no time at all to throw together.
The favor profile is basically lemon, garlic, and thyme. The olives (I like to use mixed Greek olives) add a nice Mediterranean vibe to the dish. My favorite part (besides the crispy chicken skin) is the juicy sauce that’s left in the bottom of the pan that can be used to pour over the chicken thighs and any other side dishes you choose to serve with it.
A meal like this is made for family dinners – my favorite people in the world sitting down after a long day to share and connect. I like to serve it with braised greens and a fresh green salad loaded with all the good things. Maybe even some baked sweet potatoes to compliment the tangy flavor of the dish.
The best way to describe this dish is uncomplicated yet cozy, warm, and delicious.
- Remove chicken from fridge about 20 minutes before cooking to take the chill off. Be sure to pat dry well with a paper towel to ensure a super crispy skin.
- Use an oven safe skillet or pan for this dish. A heavy cast iron skillet or enameled cast iron pan works the best to get that even, crispy sear.
- When searing the chicken thighs, do not move them until they are nice and crispy and release easily from the bottom of the pan. Mine take at least 7-8 minutes on medium high heat.
- I like mixed Greek olives, but any olives that you love would be delish.
- Fresh herbs are always best. I like to add the whole fresh thyme sprigs to the pan and remove them before serving. You could also use chopped fresh oregano leaves if that’s more your thing.
- Be sure to remove the seeds from your lemon slices. They can impart a bitter flavor.
Easy Braised Chicken with Lemons and Olives
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 chicken thighs 1x
- Category: dinner
- Method: braised
- Cuisine: mediterranean
- 4–6 chicken thighs – skin on and bone in
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp butter or ghee
- 1 large yellow onion , sliced
- 1 lemon – cut into thin slices and seeds removed
- 8 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
- 3–4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup good quality broth (homemade bone broth, veggie, or Kettle and Fire)
- 1 cup olives (I used mixed Greek olives)
- juice from 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 450’F.
- Pat chicken thighs dry and salt and pepper to taste.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of fat on medium high heat in a skillet or Dutch oven that is big enough to lay chicken thighs in a single layer. Add chicken thighs skin-side down, and DO NOT MOVE them for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is browned and releases from the bottom of the pan. Flip the chicken and toss in garlic cloves. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until garlic cloves soften (do not let them burn.) Remove chicken and garlic from pan and set aside.
- Add onions to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add lemon slices and thyme sprigs and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in broth and lemon juice and salt to taste. Nestle in chicken thighs and scatter in olives and garlic cloves. Pour any juices that have released from the chicken over the top.
- Transfer pan to oven, TURN DOWN HEAT to 350’F and bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
- Serve immediately drizzled in sauce from the pan and your favorite vegetable sides.
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Made this last night and it was delicious! The only thing I did differently was to add a sliced head of fennel to the onions as I wanted to use it up. I also added some halved baby potatoes to one side of the pan to braise in the liquid and then when it went into the oven, the tops got nice and crispy. I didn’t have any fresh lemons, so I subbed in some lemon juice. I eat Paleo, so instead of potatoes, I had mine with mashed sweet potato. Chicken was tender and the whole thing was very tasty. Recipe was excellent and got thumbs up from my college-aged boys and my husband. Thank you for a great recipe to add to our quarantine rotation!
Katja Heino says
Yay! I think I’m going to add some fennel to mine next time. That sounds delish! 🙂
Ann Bartz says
Wowee, was this ever good! I’ll be making this again. Had everything but the thyme sprigs, so came together quite easily. Tucked some summer squash slices into the pan as a bonus, and they came out well also. Really a very nice recipe.
I made this because I am on the 30 day AIP and it was something I could cook as a meal! I substituted coconut oil for butter. No thyme around so omitted it. Had to use black olives as the only olives allowed on my 30 day AIP. Served it as a special dinner for my husband and a friend. They raved over the delicious smell in the house, and for the meal itself.. I served it over brown rice for them along with roasted broccoli. I had 10 boneless, skin off, high quality chicken thighs which still had enough fat on them to brown nicely. They just fit in the cast iron skillet. The reason for 4 stars and not 5 is for me, this is more steps than I normally do. I do cook from scratch but sometimes a new recipe seems more work than it really is. I assume with more practice it will seem simpler. I will make it again and look forward to using the Greek olive mix.