French Onion Chicken Thighs

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
February 9, 2023 | Updated on October 17, 2023

French onion chicken is thighs smothered in a rich, creamy caramelized onion gravy, topped with glorious melty cheese. Prepared in a skillet and then baked in the oven, this French onion chicken recipe is the ultimate comfort food.

For more chicken skillet recipes try my Skillet Chicken with White Beans and Kale and this Garlic and Mushroom Skillet Chicken recipe.

close up view of french onion chicken in a skillet

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If you love ordering French onion soup when you go to restaurants, you have to try this classic soup reimagined as a chicken dish. French onion chicken is succulent, saucy, and savory. Flavorful pan-fried chicken thighs are tossed in a mouthwatering onion gravy before being broiled to cheesy, bubbly perfection in the oven.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Great Comfort Food – This warm, comforting dish meets all the qualifications for a cozy meal. It’s hearty, cheesy, saucy and full of juicy, tender chicken.
  • Authentic Flavor – No need to stock up on canned French onion soup. This irresistible French onion chicken recipe takes no shortcuts but it’s totally worth it!
  • Perfect for Special Occasions – Since this takes a while to make, it’s great for holidays and special occasions. Serve it on Valentine’s Day or for an anniversary. It can be an occasional indulgence.
close up view of chicken smothered in French onion gravy in a skillet

Tools You’ll Need

Ingredients You Will Need for French Onion Chicken

  • Chicken thighs – Use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Dark meat adds a richer flavor than white meat.
  • Olive oil – To sear and cook the chicken.
  • Salted butter – Divided.
  • Seasoning – Add kosher salt, salt-free garlic powder, salt-free onion powder, and freshly cracked black pepper, season generously, all to taste.
  • Yellow onion – This onion variety makes them perfect for caramelizing. They should be halved and thinly sliced. White onion can be used as replacements but the flavor will vary.
  • Thyme – Finely minced.
  • Garlic – Minced.
  • Dry white wine – I use Sauvignon Blanc for depth of flavor. Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay would work too.
  • Dijon mustard – Added for a little depth.
  • Worcestershire sauce – For added umami flavor, use this.
  • Flour – This thickens the sauce.
  • Beef stock – This will be the base of your gravy so it’s important to use a high-quality stock. Try my homemade beef stock recipe for the best flavor. If using store-bought, be sure to get low sodium.
  • Bay leaf – This herb adds a subtle layer of bright, fresh flavor.
  • Cheese – I use a blend of freshly grated gruyere cheese and comté cheese.

How To Make French Onion Chicken

Crispy French onion chicken is pan-fried on the stove, then kept warm in the oven while the onions are caramelized. After that, the gravy is created, the chicken is added back to the skillet and the dish is baked. In the final minutes of baking, shredded cheese is added to the pan and the dish is broiled.

Warm the Oven

Adjust the oven rack to the middle. Select the “keep warm” setting on the oven. If your oven does not have this setting, don’t proceed with the recipe.

Season and Cook Chicken

Remove chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Clean and pat dry thighs using a paper towel. Season all sides generously with salt, black pepper, garlic, and onion powder.

chicken thighs cooking in skillet
skillet chicken thighs cooked

Add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet (11-inch) over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook untouched for 5-7 minutes or until skin is golden brown and crispy. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 10 minutes, adjusting the heat if the bottom is browning too quickly.

Transfer chicken from the skillet to a plate and cover with foil. Place in the oven with the “keep warm” setting on.

Carmelize the Onions

Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the skillet and discard any dark bits of seasoning (pepper, garlic, or onion powder) left behind.

Over medium heat, add the remaining butter. Once melted, add the onions and stir every few minutes. Do not rush this process, caramelizing onions takes 45-60 minutes. As you cook the onions, take care to not let the mixture brown too quickly, rather it should slowly brown over time.

Once onions are deep brown in color, stir in the thyme and garlic. Cook for two minutes or until fragrant.

onions-in-skillet
caramelized-onion-in-skillet
french-onion

Make French Onion Chicken Gravy

Carefully remove the chicken from the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Stir in the white wine and cook until the liquid reduces by about half, 4-5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until the mixture slightly thickens, 1-2 minutes.

Add dijon and worcestershire sauce and stir until dijon blends with the onion mixture.

Add beef stock and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until the liquid slightly reduces, about 6-7 minutes. Season caramelized onion mixture to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Return the chicken and its juices to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil then transfer, uncovered, to the oven.

french-onion-chicken-easy

Bake Then Broil

Bake for 20 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the chicken and make sure it registers 165°F. Remove skillet from the oven then top evenly with shredded cheese. Return to the oven and change oven setting to “BROIL”.

Keep a close eye on the skillet and remove from oven once cheese completely melts, 1-3 minutes. Garnish with thyme and serve immediately over rice, with crusty bread, mashed potatoes, or salad.

Tips and Tricks

  • Pat dry the chicken before seasoning it. Doing so ensures that the skin will crisp when pan-fried, resulting in crispy chicken.
  • Use similar-sized chicken thighs so they can cook at the same rate.
  • Do not rush the caramelizing process. The onions need almost an hour to fully cook down so don’t try to cook them on high heat to speed it up. Low and slow is best when caramelizing onions.
  • Although wine is used in this cheesy French onion chicken recipe, it will evaporate when cooked. So you have the flavor but no alcohol content.
french-onion-chicken-skillet

Variations

  • French Onion Chicken Breasts. If you don’t want to use chicken thighs, you can use chicken breasts instead. But, chicken breasts cook faster so they could dry out if you don’t watch them closely. The cooking time will be shorter. When the internal temperature reaches 165ºF, the chicken is done. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.
  • Cheese. Instead of gruyere and comté, you can use your favorite cheese. Just ensure the cheeses melt easily. Provolone, mozzarella, and parmesan are good options too.
  • No alcohol. You can use chicken broth or additional beef stock as an alternative to white wine.

Leftovers

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I reheat leftover French onion chicken?

When you want to reheat leftover French onion chicken, warm it in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes. Or warm up a single portion in the microwave.

What should I serve with French onion chicken?

Similar to classic French onion soup, you can pair this meal with crusty bread. Other tasty sides include a simple salad, mashed potatoes, or rice. Serve French onion chicken with vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, and green beans, for a protein-rich, low-carb dinner.

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french-onion-chicken

French Onion Chicken Thighs

French onion chicken is crispy chicken thighs smothered in a rich, creamy caramelized onion gravy, topped with gobs of glorious melty cheese. Prepared in a skillet and then baked in the oven, this French onion chicken recipe is the ultimate comfort food.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine French

Equipment

  • Oven Safe Skillet

Ingredients

  • 6 pieces chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • garlic powder, salt-free, to taste
  • onion powder, salt-free, to taste
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, finely minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • cup dry white wine, I use Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • cup beef stock, low sodium
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ cup gruyere cheese, freshly grated
  • ½ cup comte cheese, freshly grated

Instructions

  • Adjust oven rack to the middle. Select "keep warm" setting on oven. If your oven does not have this setting, proceed with the recipe.
  • Remove chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Clean and pat dry thighs using a paper towel. Season all sides generously with salt, black pepper, garlic, and onion powder.
  • Add olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet (11-inch) over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook untouched for 5-7 minutes or until skin is golden brown and crispy. Flip chicken and cook for an additional 10 minutes, adjusting the heat is the bottom is browning too quickly.
  • Transfer chicken from the skillet to a plate and cover with foil. Place in the oven with the "keep warm" setting on.
  • Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the skillet and discard any loose dark bits of seasoning (pepper, garlic, or onion powder) left behind. Fond, which is the dark pieces stuck to the pan are fine and can be left on the skillet.
  • Over medium heat, add the remaining butter. Once melted, add the onions and stir every few minutes. Do not rush this process, caramelizing onions takes 45-60 minutes. As you cook the onions, take care to not let the mixture brown too quickly, rather it should slowly brown over time. If the mixture dries out, add 1½ teaspoons of water at a time and stir.
  • Once onions are deep brown in color, stir in the thyme and garlic. Cook for two minutes or until fragrant.
  • Carefully remove the chicken from the oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Stir in the white wine and cook until the liquid reduces by about half, 4-5 minutes.
  • Stir in flour and cook until the mixture slightly thickens, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add dijon and worcestershire sauce and stir until dijon blends with the onion mixture.
  • Add beef stock and bay leaf. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until the liquid slightly reduces, about 6-7 minutes. Season caramelized onion mixture to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Return chicken and its juices to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil then transfer, uncovered, to the oven.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Check internal temperature of chicken and make sure it registers 165°F. Remove skillet from the oven then top evenly with shredded cheese. Return to the oven and change oven setting to "BROIL".
  • Keep a close eye on the skillet and remove from oven once cheese completely melts, 1-3 minutes.
  • Garnish with thyme and serve immediately over rice, with crusty bread, mashed potatoes, or salad. Enjoy!
Keywords baked french onion chicken, cheesy french onion chicken, crispy french onion chicken, french onion chicken, french onion chicken bake, french onion chicken easy, french onion chicken oven, french onion chicken recipe, french onion chicken skillet, french onion chicken thighs
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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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