These Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs make for a fantastic weeknight meal. They’re both crispy and juicy, and braised in a white wine fennel olive sauce. 

I LOVE one-pan meals like this. You get your protein, veggies, sauce, and tons of flavor, all in one dish.

Braised Chicken Thighs - With Metal Spoon in Green Braiser  

My family usually eats this meal as is, but you can also bulk it up with a side of Rice Pilaf, or even Cauliflower Rice if you want to keep the meal grain-free.

This recipe comes from a Christmas gift cookbook I received many years ago, Ad Hoc at Home (affiliate) by chef superstar Thomas Keller.

I honestly don’t cook a lot from cookbooks, but after I tried Keller’s insanely good Buttermilk Fried Chicken from the book, I tried out a few more of the chicken dishes and fell in love with this one as well.

These chicken thighs have the crispiest crackliest skin on top, and succulent braised meat in the middle. 

And as far as method goes, it’s straightforward and uncomplicated. If you’re looking for a relatively simple but flavorful dish, give this one a try. 

Braised Chicken Thighs Recipe - Served in light Green Braiser with Olives and Fennel 

How to Make Braised Chicken Thighs:

Heat a big ovenproof braising pan (I use this Le Creuset 14″ braiser – affiliate) over medium high heat and sear the chicken thighs skin-side down, until they are deeply golden, about 10 minutes.

Then flip and cook on the other side for 1 minute:

Browning Chicken Thighs - With Crispy Crackled Skin from Searing

If you don’t have a braising pan, you can also use a really large ovenproof skillet. Just make sure the chicken fits in a single layer.

Also I will note that I do not put fat down in the pan first since the skin itself renders so much fat already. You may add a little bit if you’re more comfortable.

Remove the chicken thighs to a plate, and there should be browned drippings and fat leftover in the pan:

Leftover Fond in The Pan with Fat Drippings

Add chopped onion and sliced fennel to the pan:

Cut Fennel and Chopped Onions Added to Chicken Fat

Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion and fennel have softened. Then add minced garlic:

Raw Minced Garlic Added to Sauteed Fennel and Onion    

Stir that around for 1 minute until the garlic smells aromatic, then add white wine to the pan:

Adding White Wine to Sauteed Fennel and Onion

The wine adds incredible flavor to the sauce, but you can omit it if need be.

Next add chicken stock to the pan, along with fresh thyme, strips of lemon peel, crushed red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and your favorite high-quality olives: 

Adding Chicken Stock to Braiser with Lecino Olives, Lemon Peel, Bay Leaf, Thyme, and Red Pepper Flake

I prefer to use pitted olives here, and I like the small Lecino olives. General Greek Olives work great too, or straight Kalamatas.

Bring this mixture to a boil:

Braised Olive and Fennel Sauce in Green Pan

Then add the chicken thighs back to the pan, placing them skin side up:

Braised Chicken Thighs in Dutch Oven Green Pan

Place the pan uncovered into the oven, for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and a sauce has developed.

If you scroll back and forth between the photo below and the photo above, you can see how much sauce is created during the oven braising step.

Oven Braised Chicken Thighs - In Fennel Olive Sauce

Turn the broiler to high, and broil the chicken for a couple minutes, until the skin is bubbling and begins to crisp again.

I actually find it best to leave the pan on the middle rack of the oven, so the skin browns evenly and doesn’t scorch as easily.

Crispy Chicken Thigh Skin on Braised Whole Thigh with Metal Spoon

Serve the chicken promptly while the skin is still crispy. Enjoy!

More Chicken Thigh Recipes:

Crispy Braised Chicken Thigh with Metal Spoon and Olives

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are braised in aromatics like white wine and fennel, then placed under the broiler to crisp the skin.
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Ingredients

For the Braised Chicken Thighs:

  • 3 lbs chicken thighs skin-on and bone-in (I had 8)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup sliced fennel bulb (1/4" thick)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Greek olives (I use pitted Lecino, but use any quality green or brown olive)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 strips lemon peel (removed with vegetable peeler)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • kosher salt

Recommended Side Dishes for Pairing:

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Season the chicken all over with salt. I recommend doing this by eye knowing the "saltiness" of the salt you use, but if you need a rough guide, try 1/2 tsp per pound of chicken.
  • Heat up a 5-quart ovenproof braiser pan* over medium high heat, and add the chicken thighs to the pan, skin side down. I personally do not grease the pan, as so much renders from the skin itself. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the skin is deeply golden, then flip over and cook on the other side for 1 minute.  Remove the chicken from the pan, leaving the fat and brown bits in the pan. 
  • Reduce the heat to medium low, and add the onion and fennel to the pan. Saute for 10 minutes until softened, then add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute, until fragrant.
  • Add the white wine to the pan, and increase the heat to medium high. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the olives, crushed red pepper, lemon peel strips, bay leaf, thyme, and chicken stock, and bring to a boil.
  • Return the chicken to the pan skin-side up and place in the oven to cook uncovered for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (I check for a doneness temperature of 175F).
  • Turn the broiler to high, and cook the chicken for about 2-4 minutes to brown and crisp up the skin (watch carefully). I recommend leaving the pan on the middle rack of the oven so it's not too close to the broiling element. This helps the skin brown more evenly. Serve promptly and enjoy!

Notes

*If you don't have a braiser, you can also use a high-sided ovenproof skillet. The bigger the better. If you're cooking 8 chicken thighs, they will need to sit in a single layer, and you'll probably need a 12" to 14" pan for that.

Nutrition

Calories: 577kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 39g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 224mg, Sodium: 528mg, Potassium: 612mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 399IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 49mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post updated with new photos and copy in August 2020. Originally published February 2012.