These perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce are just that: perfect. They make for a gourmet dinner recipe that’s surprisingly easy, and the shallot-white wine pan sauce is out of this world. Clean eating and paleo friendly.
As a food blogger, I’m constantly making new dishes for lunch, dinner, and dessert. Rarely does one singular dish make more than a couple of appearances on our table. If that were the case, I’d never have anything new to share!
These perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce, however, are one major, major exception. I make these whenever I have the opportunity, and they’re oft-requested for birthdays and holidays by my entire family.
The crispy, salty skin, the tender meat, the heady, buttery pan sauce? It’s all too much to battle. There’s simply no use putting up a fight, not when losing the battle means perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce on the table.
Oh.. and did I mention they’re super easy?
Because they’re super easy.
Why this recipe works
- The pan searing and oven roasting method produces the most tender chicken thighs with super crispy skin.
- The combination of shallots, white wine, chicken stock, and butter makes for a gourmet pan sauce that’s surprisingly easy.
- Every part of this recipe for perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce is versatile; you can use the chicken in other recipes or swap out ingredients in the pan sauce!
What I love about this pan seared chicken thighs recipe is that it’s basic enough to work into a weekly meal plan, but elegant and exciting enough to serve to company or to keep you from getting bored. It’s sear, roast, sauté, reduce, and voilà: a perfectly gourmet, yet stupid cheap and easy main course awaits.
What to serve with these perfect pan-seared chicken thighs and pan sauce?
We’ve served these pan seared chicken thighs with pan sauce over gluten-free orzo, rice, quinoa, even steamed potatoes, spooning the rich, white wine and shallot reduction over the whole thing. If you’re paleo, try serving these pan seared chicken thighs on a bed of cauliflower rice or roasted potatoes. Whatever you do, just don’t waste the sauce! Savor every spoonful.
Speaking of, I actually do eat this pan sauce with a spoon… I mean, would you want any of that gorgeous pan sauce to go to waste?! I think not.
Pair the perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce and your starch with a simple green veggie, like roasted broccoli or a simple salad. No gourmet dinner should be this easy!
And um.. hey.. just look at that golden skin. Are you looking? OK.. good.
What makes these pan seared chicken thighs with pan sauce so perfect?
The magic is in the method: you generously salt the chicken then sear it until the skin is beautifully crispy. You finish the whole thing in the oven then let them rest while you make the pan sauce.
I actually use this process for almost every recipe involving bone-in and skin-on chicken. It just works too well to mess with! You might recognize the process from my:
- Paleo Cranberry Apple Chicken Thighs with Rosemary
- Whole30 Cranberry Chicken Recipe
- Creamy Whole30 Bacon Mushroom Chicken Thighs
- 5-Ingredient Whole30 Chicken Thighs with Raspberry-Balsamic Sauce
See? Versatile and perfect.
The result is perfectly cooked, super tender chicken thighs with almost painfully good crispy skin. The pan sauce utilizes a couple of French cuisine-inspired powerhouse ingredients: shallots, white wine, chicken stock, and really good, high-quality butter. The result is so heady and rich and perfect that I can’t describe it in actual mortal terms.
Extra tender chicken and crispy skin
For especially tender chicken and crispy skin, I highly recommend quick brining your chicken pieces before making these perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce. Try my quick chicken brine recipe. It takes only a couple hours to brine the chicken and produces insanely juicy chicken with crispy skin. In addition, it makes your chicken more forgiving in case you forget to set a timer. You’re more likely to end up with still-tender chicken even if you overcook if it’s brined!
Make sure you fully air dry or pat dry the chicken after brining for super crispy skin.
How to make the perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce
The method is actually pretty important here, but it’s easy to nail. And once you have, you can whip dinner together in no time without even glancing at the recipe! Watch us make this recipe below, right above the recipe!
Here’s how to make the perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce:
Season the chicken skin liberally with salt. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large oven-proof skillet over a low medium-high heat (About a 6 or 7 out of 10). Make sure the pan is nice and hot before adding your chicken thighs.
Add your chicken thighs, skin-side down, and don’t crowd. Don’t touch them, either! Let them be for about 8 minutes. If you feel the heat is too high and the skin is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium.
After 7-8 minutes, the chicken thighs should release from the pan easily, and the skin should be beautifully golden and crispy. Flip the chicken thighs, skin-side up, and transfer to a 375º oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove your perfect pan-seared chicken thighs from the oven and make your pan sauce! Take the skillet out of the oven and transfer the chicken thighs to a plate. Be very careful from this point on! Make sure you always have a potholder protecting your hand from the hot skillet handle.
Pour out most of the rendered chicken grease; leave about 1-2 tablespoons in the skillet. Place the skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Add your minced shallots and stir until softened, 2-3 minutes. Carefully add the white wine and reduce, scraping the skillet surface with a whisk or spoon to release the browned bits. When the mixture is reduced by about half, add the chicken stock and repeat – reduce by about half.
Finally, whisk in your cubed butter and stir until fully melted. Add your herbs at this time, if you like. Season the sauce with salt, then serve your pan-seared chicken thighs over pasta, grains, or another starch. Ladle plenty of sauce over!
And now that you’re in on the secret, you will never, ever go back to simple roasted chicken pieces, I guarantee it. Not with those golden, crispy-skinned perfect pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce dancing in your mind!
I almost dare you. Double-dog dare you. Tah-riple dog dare you!
(You’re gonna lose this bet).
- Use a combination of minced garlic and onions in place of the shallots.
- Cook your perfect pan-seared chicken thighs according to this method, then use them in other recipes, like my Whole30 cranberry chicken or creamy Whole30 bacon mushroom chicken thighs recipes!
- Try infusing the pan sauce with different herbs: thyme, rosemary, even basil.
- Substitute more chicken stock or no-sugar-added apple juice for the white wine if you don’t use alcohol in your cooking.
- Try ghee instead of the butter.
What if I don’t have an oven-proof skillet?
Here’s a little trick: if your skillet has a rubber handle, you can wrap it in a double layer of wet paper towels then in a layer of aluminum foil before placing it in the oven. The wet layer plus foil will protect the handle from the heat!
However, I love having an oven-proof skillet and highly recommend having one in your arsenal. This one is fantastic (<<< affiliate link!).
Can I use chicken breasts?
Sure! I’d recommend you use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, and you’ll want to increase the oven roasting time to nearly 25 minutes, or until an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken breast (near a bone is preferable) registers at about 161º F.
If you want to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you can actually cook the chicken fully on the stove. Up your searing time to about 10 minutes total, and split it between sides evenly (5 minutes per side).
Can I make this recipe Whole30 compliant?
Absolutely, and we do all the time! Simply swap the butter for ghee and replace the white wine with more chicken stock. Serve your pan-seared chicken thighs with pan sauce over potatoes or cauliflower rice.
Did you make and love this recipe? Give it your review below! ? And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram!
Perfect Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Pan Sauce
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- sea salt
- 2 teaspoons oil like ghee, coconut oil, or avocado oil
- 1/2 cup shallots , finely minced
- 1 cup white wine or chicken stock if you can't or don't use alcohol in your cooking
- 1 1/3 cup chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons cold high-quality butter like Kerrygold, or ghee
- stems of fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or sage
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Pat chicken thighs very dry and then season very liberally with sea salt.
- Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, then, using tongs, place chicken thighs skin-side down in skillet and sear for about 7-8 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and no longer sticks to the pan.
- Flip chicken thighs then transfer skillet to oven. Roast 15 minutes or until internal thermometer registers a temperature of about 162º. Carefully remove skillet from oven.
- Be careful: always using a potholder on the skillet handle during the rest of the recipe. Transfer chicken thighs to plate, then pour off all but about 1-2 tablespoons fat from skillet. Return skillet to stove over medium-low heat.
- Add shallots and sauté, stirring regularly, until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully add white wine and deglaze, scraping the skillet with a wire whisk or spatula to loosen all the browned bits on the skillet. Bring wine-shallot mixture to a boil then reduce by half.
- Add chicken stock and again bring to a boil. Reduce the mixture by half, or until mixture is no longer soupy but thicker, like a sauce. If using fresh herbs, stir in now. Remove from heat and stir in cold butter, whisking constantly until melted. Season with salt.
- Serve thighs over the starch, then ladle plenty of pan sauce over.
This post was originally published in January 2015 but was updated with new photos, video, step by step photos, and information in July 2018.
Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.