This cozy recipe has crispy skin chicken thighs braised in an apple cider pan sauce with bacon, shallots and sage! It’s the perfect one pot recipe for cool Autumn and Winter evenings!
For another simple braised chicken recipe, try our Coq au Vin Blanc.
This braised chicken recipe is a simple meal made from bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and some simple Fall ingredients. We usually make this recipe with our Homemade Apple Cider, but store-bought works too. If you have access to cider fresh from the apple orchard, use that!
- Chicken Stock - We use our homemade chicken feet bone broth.
- Butter - Not pictured! Butter is optional, and we forgot to include it in this picture. However, we really like to finish this dish with a couple Tablespoons of butter. It adds a nice glossy, buttery flavor to the pan sauce and is oh, so good!
This is a rustic, homey recipe that can be adjusted to fit your preferences (or what you have in your pantry). Here are a few substitutions that have worked well for us:
- Chicken - If your family prefers white meat, feel free to substitute bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. You can also make this recipe with a whole bird broken down into 8 pieces. You may need to increase the baking time to ensure your largest pieces of chicken reach an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit.
- Shallot - A quartered yellow or red onion works well.
- Bacon - You can use pancetta or even guanciale, instead. To omit the bacon, substitute a few tablespoons of hot olive oil to crisp the chicken skin.
- Herbs - Feel free to play around with the herbs. A sprig of rosemary works great in this recipe. I always recommend using fresh herbs. However, if you need to use dried herbs for this recipe, add it to the bacon fat with the remaining flour. Details can be found in the Notes Section of this recipe card.
How To Make This Recipe
This cider braised chicken thighs recipe comes together in one pan in about an hour. Only twenty minutes, or so, are hands-on. The rest is just waiting for the chicken to braise in the oven. It’s pretty simple. Here’s how it’s done:
1. Start by preheating the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Then, dredge the chicken thighs in the seasoned flour mixture. Make sure to get flour in all the nooks and crannies, under a bit of the skin and around the thigh bones. Reserve the leftover flour to use later.
3. Increase the heat to medium-high and sear the chicken thighs, skin side down for 4 - 5 minutes or until golden and crispy. I recommend doing this in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan. Meanwhile, sear your shallots, cut-side down until golden and beginning to caramelize. Set the chicken and shallots aside with the bacon.
4. Then, lower the heat of the pan. If very hot, you may need to turn the pan off for a minute or two to avoid burning the flour. Once slightly cooled, add the reserved flour and stir into the bacon grease to create a thin paste. Toast on low heat for one minute.
5. Stir in the apple cider and chicken broth. Add the vinegar, smashed garlic cloves, ginger root and fresh herbs. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the chicken thighs, shallots and half of the bacon back into the pan.
Place the lid on, slightly ajar. (If you don’t have an oven-safe lidded pan, you can tent the chicken with foil.) Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid (or foil) and continue to bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit.
6. Allow the chicken to rest for about 5 minutes. We like to add a couple Tablespoons of butter to the sauce and sprinkle the remaining crispy bacon over the top.
You can serve this braised chicken directly in the cooking pan with the sauce, or transfer the chicken to another serving plate with the shallots. For company, you can remove the herbs, garlic and ginger from the sauce and serve it in a gravy boat, but I usually just spoon it straight out of the pan.
Tips for Crispy Skin Braising
What makes this recipe so delicious is the tender, moist chicken meat juxtaposed with a crispy, seasoned skin. Since braising is a wet cooking method, you run the risk of sad, soggy skinned chicken. Here are all our best tips to keep it crispy!
- Pat the chicken dry. After bringing your chicken to room temperature, use paper towels to pat it completely dry before dredging it in seasoned flour.
- Coat well in seasoned flour. The flour dredge helps to crisp the skin and stick all that sweet and savory apple cider sauce to the chicken. Make sure to get the flour in all the nooks and crannies, under the skin a bit and around the bone.
- Pan sear in HOT bacon fat. For a crispy golden skin, make sure the bacon fat in the pan is hot and sizzling.
- Cook the chicken skin-side down and undisturbed for 3 - 5 minutes. The skin takes time to crisp so, don't rush it. If the chicken is sticking to the pan, it is not ready to be flipped.
- Don't crowd the pan. Crowded pans steam and never get golden and crispy. I recommend using a large pan and cooking the chicken thighs in two batches.
- Keep the chicken skin out of the sauce. When ready to put the chicken in the oven, nestle your thighs in the cider braising sauce so that the crispy skin is exposed, and dry.
- Uncover the pan halfway through baking. To allow the sauce to reduce and the steam to escape, don't forget to uncover the pans' lid!
Cider braised chicken thighs with bacon and shallots is a rich and flavorful meal that the whole family can enjoy. I recommend serving this dish with a gravy-friendly starch like mashed potatoes, butternut squash puree or creamy polenta. Some fluffy dinner rolls or a crusty bread would be perfect to sop up the extra cider sauce.
For a festive drink pairing, try our Apple Cider Whiskey Sour!
For vegetables, I recommend serving this dish with Something light and fresh. A bright, green salad in a simple vinaigrette would be lovely. Roasted carrots or our French Green Beans recipe would be a nice pairing, too.
More Cozy Dinner Recipes
For more dinner ideas, check out our entire collection of Main Course Recipes.
Cider Braised Chicken Thighs with Bacon & Shallots
- 1 Large Oven Safe Skillet with a Lid (Promo Code: FOODWORTH25)
- 4 - 6 chicken thighs bone-in, skin on; (About 2 pounds)
- ¼ Cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoons fine kosher salt* plus more, to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 3 strips thick-cut bacon or pancetta diced; (About 3 ounces)
- 3 large shallots peeled and halved
- ¾ Cup chicken stock
- ¾ Cup apple cider Preferably homemade or from a local orchard
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 - 3 cloves garlic smashed
- 4 sprigs fresh sage (See Note: a.)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme (See Note: a.)
- 2 inches fresh ginger root peeled and sliced
- 2 Tablespoons butter optional
- Gather, measure and prepare the ingredients as listed.Thoroughly dry the chicken with paper towels. Arrange a rack in the center third of the oven and preheat to 400° Fahrenheit (205° celsius).
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour and set aside. Reserve the remaining leftover flour mixture to be used later.
- In an oven-safe skillet with a lid (or dutch oven), cook the bacon over medium-low heat until nearly crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon out of the pan and set aside. Leave the rendered fat in the pan.
- Increase the heat of the pan to medium-high. In two batches, sear the chicken thighs, skin-side down for 3 - 5 minutes or until golden and crispy. Meanwhile, sear the shallots, cut side down until golden and caramelized. Remove the seared chicken and shallots from the pan and set aside.
- Lower the heat to medium-low. You may need to turn the pan off for a minute or two to avoid burning the flour. Once the bacon fat is a bit cooled, stir in the remaining seasoned flour mixture and create a thin paste. (See Note: a.) Stir in the chicken stock, and apple cider. Bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering, add the apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme and half of the bacon back to the pan. Return the shallots and chicken breasts, skin-side up to the braising liquid. Place the lid of the pan on, slightly ajar, to allow steam to escape.
- Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and braise for 20 minutes. Remove the lid of the pan and continue to braise for an additional 20 minutes or until the thickest part of the chicken thighs reaches an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes. Add butter into the pan sauce, if using. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, if necessary. Serve chicken directly in the pan, or separately with the caramelized shallots. You can remove the garlic, herbs and ginger from the pan sauce, if desired. Garnish with the remaining bacon and serve hot with your favorite side dishes.
* A Note About Salt
Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on The Sage Apron are developed using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. It is a great all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If using table salt, reduce quantities by about half.