You've just discovered the Smothered Chicken recipe that would make any Southern grandma proud. This chicken and gravy dish is the epitome of comfort food. It's a savory, family-friendly, one-pan meal, equipped with juicy, pan-fried chicken and full-flavored gravy, served with creamy mashed potatoes or a heaping pile of white rice.
It's easy enough for busy weeknights, but it feels special enough for a Sunday supper. The perfect thing to satify your loved ones and bring the family together after a long day. For even more comforting meals, try our crockpot chicken legs, smothered pork chops, crockpot chicken and rice, and biscuits and gravy.
HOW TO MAKE SMOTHERED CHICKEN
Before Smothered Chicken actually gets smothered, it gets a quick dredge, followed by a shallow fry to brown. The fry secures the flour dredge and seasoning to the chicken. The dredge serves as sort of like a comfort food magnetic force (yes, please), magically keeping that gravy clinging to the chicken.
Once the chicken is dredged and fried, you'll move on to the gravy. This is a super simple gravy that should only take you a few minutes to make. Basically, you'll sauté onion until softened, create a bit of a roux with flour, and then add broth and half and half to thicken it up and make it super rich and creamy.
To finish off, you'll season the gravy with salt and pepper and then add in your chicken. Once it's all simmered together for a little while, dinner is served!
MAKE THE SEASONED FLOUR DREDGE
To kick off the dredge, all you have to do is combine flour and a savory Southern spice mix in a zip-top bag. For the spices, you'll need Kosher salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. If you like your chicken with a kick of spice, you could also add a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the flour mixture. Just add everything to the Ziploc bag, seal it, and shake.
As soon as you see the spices are evenly distributed throughout the flour mixture, open up the bag and add in the chicken.
WHAT CHICKEN TO USE FOR SMOTHERED CHICKEN
You can use a mix of bone-in chicken thighs and chicken legs for this recipe, but it could also be easily adapted to suit boneless skinless chicken breasts. We will cover that option as we get into cook times down below.
We prefer to use dark meat, bone-in chicken. Dark meat chicken can better undergo variations and cook time and is a much more dependable option if you want your chicken to stay succulent and moist.
Whichever type of chicken you intend to use for your Smothered Chicken, you'll need to set it out at room temperature 30 minutes prior to cooking. Allowing the chill to come off of the chicken before adding it to hot oil is always a good practice.
DREDGE THE CHICKEN
Add the chicken to the zip-top bag, seal, and shake. Make sure that the chicken is evenly coated in the flour mixture, set it aside, and move on over to the stovetop.
TOO MUCH DREDGE = BURNT FLOUR
Remove the chicken from the flour mixture and shake off as much excess flour as possible. This step is actually very important. If the chicken sheds too much flour in the oil, the loose flour will eventually burn, leaving you with a dirty, gritty pan. Since we are planning to make gravy in the pan directly after the chicken comes out, this mess would be far from ideal.
ABOUT THE SKILLET
To make Smothered Chicken, you will need a large skillet. A cast iron skillet or a shallow, enameled braiser is ideal. However, equally important to the size of the pan, is that you need one equipped with a lid.
NOTES ON OIL
Once you've got the pan in hand, place it on the stovetop and add either canola oil or avocado oil. Since you will technically be making pan-fried chicken, it is important for this recipe to use an oil with a high smoke point; this excludes olive oil from the picture.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN THE OIL IS READY
Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once the oil reaches a range between 350°F and 375°F, you can begin frying.
You can easily determine whether or not the oil is ready with a pinch of flour. Sprinkle a pinch of flour over the oil; if the oil does nothing, it is not hot enough, and you either need to wait longer or possibly increase the heat slightly. If the flour darkens and puts off a burnt smell, the oil is too hot, and you need to reduce the temperature. If the flour sizzles, the oil is just right, and it's time to fry some chicken!
BROWNING THE CHICKEN
The first step toward delicious Smothered Chicken is not smothering it, but frying it! But don't worry, this won't take long.
Remove the chicken from the dredge and shake or brush away as much of the excess flour as possible.
Carefully place the chicken in the oil, skin side down. Allow it to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more. Once the chicken has taken on a golden brown coloring, remove it from the pan and set it aside.
Also, take care not to overcrowd the pan; sear the chicken in batches as necessary.
HOW TO FIX BURNT FLOUR IN THE OIL
If you happen to add the chicken to the oil with too much flour still attached, you will likely end up with burnt browned bits of flour covering the bottom of your pan. This isn't ideal, but it's also not the end of the world. Don't panic!
If you happen to end up with dark flour residue in the pan, simply remove the pan from the heat after the chicken has finished browning and carefully wipe it clean with paper towels. Before returning the pan to the stovetop, be sure there are no grease drips running down the sides of the pan.
MAKE THE GRAVY
Once all of your chicken is browned, it's time to make that Smothered Chicken gravy! You'll want to check the oil level in your pan at this point. If the pan appears at all dry, add an additional 2 to 3 more tablespoons to the pan and scrape up any browned bits.
Add the diced onion, and stir to coat in the oil. Continue cooking for about 4 to 6 minutes more, just until the onion has softened. Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and stir until the onion is evenly coated. After about 1 minute of stirring, begin adding the chicken broth. Add the chicken broth one big splash at a time, stirring until smooth after each addition.
After all of your chicken broth has been incorporated, add the half-and-half and stir once more. If you only have heavy cream on hand, this would be a fine substitute for the half-and-half. Next, in goes salt and pepper for seasoning; stir and allow the mixture to come to a simmer.
SMOTHER THE CHICKEN AND SIMMER
Once the gravy begins to bubble, adjust your heat setting as necessary to maintain a slow simmer. Nestle the chicken into the gravy, cover the pan partially with the lid, and cook for an additional 25-30 minutes.
If using boneless, skinless chicken breast, you will only need to cook the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes in the gravy.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN THE SMOTHERED CHICKEN IS DONE
The best way to determine if your chicken is done is to use an instant-read meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the centermost point of the chicken, avoiding the bone if using dark meat. The chicken is safe to eat once the temperature registers 165°F or above.
If you do not have a meat thermometer, the second best way to determine whether or not chicken is fully cooked is by examining the color of the juices. If you cut into the chicken and the juice is clear, the chicken is fully cooked and ready to eat. If the juices run pink or red, your chicken has not yet reached a safe temperature for eating.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SMOTHERED CHICKEN
Serve Smothered Chicken with mashed potatoes or cooked white rice. Other dishes you might enjoy with this meal are cooked green beans and homemade biscuits. Pretty much anything you would like to eat with brown gravy would go splendidly with Smothered Chicken! And, if you'd like to add a little pop of color, feel free to garnish with a pinch of chopped, fresh parsley.
6 MORE CHICKEN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- BBQ Baked Chicken Thighs
- Bacon-Wrapped Chicken
- Buttermilk Fried Chicken
- Crockpot Chicken and Rice
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Warm, creamy, and super savory, Smothered Chicken is the perfect dish for those days when you're craving something extra comforting.
- 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs, legs, or a combination of the two (If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, see notes below)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 ¼ teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup canola or avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons canola or avocado oil, if needed
- 1 diced yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
- ½ cup half-and-half
- 1 ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
Set the chicken out for about 30 minutes at room temperature to remove the chill.
Add the flour, salt, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, and onion powder to a gallon-size zip-top bag. Seal and shake to evenly distribute spices. Add the chicken, seal, and shake some more.
Add the oil to a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat and allow to come to temperature, between 350-375°F. You will need a pan with a lid for this recipe.
Once the oil is hot, remove the chicken from the bag and shake away as much excess flour as possible or the breading will end up gummy in texture. Add the chicken to the pan, taking care not to overcrowd it. Sear for about 4-5 minutes on the first side, until golden brown. Then, flip and sear for an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, and add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan if the skillet appears dry. Add the diced onion, and sauté, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until cooked through and golden.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour across the onions and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth one big splash at a time, stirring well after each addition. Then, add the half-and-half, salt, and pepper.
Once the mixture comes to a simmer, nestle the chicken in the gravy, and reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer. Cover partially and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and has reached an internal temperature of 165°. Add additional salt and pepper to gravy to taste, if desired. Serve with white rice or mashed potatoes and enjoy.
If using boneless, skinless chicken breast, cook the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes in the gravy.