These delicious braised boneless chicken thighs cook on the stovetop with vegetables and thyme. A healthy and flavorful one pot meal! We used wine and chicken stock for the braising liquid. Disclosure: the rosé wine pairing suggested here was sent as a complimentary sample.
This recipe might have the chicken thighs prominently in the title, but the inspiration for it came from a recent CSA local vegetable share.
Thinking about what I might do with fresh leeks and a big bunch of thyme, I quickly landed on braising those items with some chicken thighs.
The leek and thyme combo had a French feel to it, so I thought this meal could also tie in nicely with our September exploration of Côtes du Rhône wines. I doubled down on this connection, using a bit of the Rhône wine I planned to serve with dinner as braising liquid, along with some chicken stock.
What makes this recipe work
You’ve got aromatic leeks and thyme wafting some great cooking smells throughout the kitchen as the chicken slowly braises.
Carrots and mushrooms bring more fresh flavors to the party.
The braising method allows the chicken thighs to slowly cook and absorb the flavors of the other ingredients, while staying nice and moist.
Oh yes, have we mentioned, this is a healthy one pot meal!
I will cover more about boneless chicken thighs next, but first, a few quick notes about some of the other ingredients use in this recipe.
Leeks or onions: Generally, you can use onions in place of leeks if you don’t have leeks available. While that is the case here, I think you would loose some of the aromatics that flavor the dish, so I would encourage you to use leeks if you can.
Thyme: The fresh thyme sprigs are definitely a star ingredient in this braised chicken recipe. I wouldn’t encourage substituting dried thyme here.
You could try fresh rosemary sprigs in addition to, or instead of the thyme.
Potatoes: the first time we made this braised chicken, we had some leftover grilled baby potatoes, which were cut in half. We added those near the end of cooking. Using raw potatoes, you want them cut small enough to cook and become tender.
We like baby potatoes cut in half for this recipe, but you can use a larger potato and cut into smaller pieces.
Baby spinach: Adding baby spinach toward the end of cooking adds some nice additional color for the presentation. I tend to have spinach on hand and often add a bit toward the end of cooking. It’s not a big part of the flavor profile, however, so you don’t need to buy spinach just for this recipe.
Recipe tips and steps
Head on down to the recipe card for the full details. Below we have some key tips and an overview of the steps for our braised chicken thighs.
Chop the vegetables first. It never hurts to get your veggies and other ingredients chopped up before you start cooking. But some recipes you can get away with chopping as you go, as ingredients are added throughout the cooking process. But in this braised chicken recipe, most of the vegetables get added shortly after browning the chicken, so you definitely want to get things chopped first.
How to prepare leeks
You definitely want to take care to clean the leeks well, as dirt can work its way pretty far into the tops and upper portion of the white leek stalks. Here’s the way to do it:
First, rinse the whole leek under running water. Then cut the dark green leek top off. You only need the white and light green portion off for this recipe.
But save the leek top! You can use it in recipes such as our Sautéed Leek Tops with Bacon.
Take the white portion of the leek you are using and cut it in half lengthwise. This will make it easier to clean.
The white and light green leek stock is made up of many layers. Pull back and separate the layers of the leek plant, working from the portion you just cut away from the dark leek green.
Rinse the portion you have separated under running water, allowing the water to get at the upper portion of each layer of the plant.
After you have thoroughly cleaned the leeks, chop them up so they are ready for use.
Browning chicken thighs
I always brown chicken thighs and other meat as a first step to braising them. Some will say you don’t need to do this. If you want to experiment with skipping the browning step, go ahead and add the chicken after the veggies. I’d suggest adding an extra 5 minutes of braising in this case to make sure the chicken is cooked through.
But if you are following my recommendation to brown the chicken, that is the first step in the cooking process, after you have the vegetables cut.
Start by heating a tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a Copper Chef Pan. Add half of the chicken, cook on medium high 4 to 5 minutes on one side, then turn to brown for 3 to 4 minutes on the other side.
Note that the chicken does not actually get very brown as a result of the “browning” process. As shown above, the flesh turns white with bits of brown. But you are left with some of the nice browned bits in the cooking oil to jumpstart the flavor.
Remove the chicken from the pan with a slotted spoon or fork. Then repeat the browning process with the remaining chicken.
Set the brown chicken aside on a platter as you get the vegetables started.
Cooking steps summary
OK, after going deep into the leek cleaning process and browning of the chicken, let’s get back to a quick recipe overview.
Sauté the leeks After browning all the chicken and setting it aside, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the leeks for a few minutes on medium heat.
Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
Stir in ¼ cup of the cooking wine.
Stir in the carrots, potatoes and garlic to combine with the mushrooms and leeks.
Add the chicken back into the pan, along with the remaining cooking wine and the broth. Top with the time sprigs, then cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
Stir in the spinach, if using, toward the end of the braising time. After that forty minutes of braising, the chicken will be tender and flavorful, and ready to serve.
Advantages of boneless chicken thighs
Most of the recipes I see when searching for braised chicken thighs call for the bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on.
You can certainly get some good results with the bone in thighs. Our Chicken Cassoulet recipe has amazing flavor, and is a great recipe to try on a chilly day when you are going to be around the house for the afternoon.
But we are much more likely to go with boneless chicken thighs without skin here. Some of the things we like about this option:
- Easy to prepare and eat. When cooking, you don’t have to worry about trying to brown the skin just so. Eating boneless thighs is much easier! All the meat is right there to cut up and enjoy, without needing to work it off the bone.
- Lower fat content. There’s quite a bit of fat in the chicken skin. So going with boneless thighs without the skin, which means less fat and related grease.
- Forgiving. Unlike chicken breast, which can easily get overcooked and dried out, thighs tend to stay moist even if you cook them a bit more than a recipe calls for.
- Flavorful and versatile. I find chicken thighs to be “meatier” than breasts, bringing more initial flavor to the table. The thighs hold up well in a braise like this, or a hearty stew. Check out some of our favorite recipes with chicken thighs below!
Can I make this recipe with bone-in chicken thighs?
I got some bone-in chicken thighs from Walden Local Meat recently. It turns out, this recipe works well with the bone-in thighs, too!
The same basic cooking process and timing worked for the bone-in thighs. Start by browning the chicken, then get the veggies going. We then braised the bone-in chicken thighs for the same 40 minutes, but you could check at about 35 minutes.
Chicken thighs should get to an internal temperature of between 165 to 175 degrees.
More chicken thigh recipes
So after extolling the virtue of boneless chicken thighs, we need to share some more recipes with you!
As I mentioned earlier, we planned to try the braised chicken thighs with a Côtes du Rhône. While the red Rhône wines worked better with meaty dishes like our Grilled Sirloin Steak, we also had a rosé to sample.
So we featured the 2020 Alain Jaume Bellissime Rosé ($15, 13.5% ABV), a Côtes du Rhône AOC, with the braised boneless chicken thighs. The wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah.
On the nose, notes of bubble gum. Melon and kiwi fruit on the palate, and floral notes. Fairly light body, but definitely enough substance to match the earthy braised chicken thighs. An excellent wine and very good pairing!
Red wine pairing options
We did try one of the red Côtes du Rhônes that we had, but that was a bit too heavy with the dish. With the leftover chicken thighs, we paired it with a Pinot Noir, and that worked pretty well. If you are in the mood for a red rather than a rosé, I’d say Pinot is a good choice.
For a recent remake, we had the 2022 Chelsea Goldschmidt Alexander Valley Merlot (appx. $25, 14.5% ABV). We had this sample bottle as part of of 2023 Merlot sampling, which also included a pairing with this Bottom Round Roast recipe.
This Merlot worked well as a pairing for the chicken thighs. With a woodsy nose and dark fruit on the palate, the wine opened nicely in the glass. It is medium bodied with some elegance. A heavier Merlot might not work as well.Print
Braised Boneless Chicken Thighs with Veggies
Stovetop Braised Boneless Chicken Thighs simmer slowly with vegetables and fresh thyme for a flavorful and healthy one pot meal.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 70 mins
- Total Time: 1 hr 25 mins
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: main
- Method: braising
- Cuisine: French
- 3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 ½ pounds boneless chicken thighs
- pinch of salt
- 3 leeks, white and light green portions only, chopped
- 5 mushrooms, sliced — we used baby bella mushrooms
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup dry rosé or white wine, divided
- ½ cup low sodium chicken stock
- 5 sprigs or so fresh thyme
- 1 ½ cups potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces (see notes)
- 1 cup baby spinach (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Brown the chicken: Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet or Copper Chef Pan, when it is hot, add about half the chicken to the pan along with a pinch of salt. Cook on one side for 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over to brown on the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the browned chicken to a platter, then repeat the process to brown the remaining chicken. Set the chicken aside as you start cooking the veggies.
- Sauté the leeks: add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then stir in the leeks. Sauté on medium heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms: stir in the mushrooms, cooking for a few minutes until they begin to “sweat” (they start to soften and give off some liquid). Stir in about half of the wine (¼ cup), and let it cook down for a few minutes.
- Stir in the carrots, potatoes and the garlic, combining the vegetables thoroughly.
- Add the chicken thighs back into the pan, nestling the chicken on top of the vegetables. Place the thyme sprigs on top of the chicken. Pour in the chicken stock and remaining wine, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. About halfway through (20 minutes into braising), gently stir the chicken and veggies a bit to combine them. Cover again, and finish braising the chicken.
- Finish the dish. After 40 minutes of braising, add the spinach, if using, along with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the dish, and simmer for a few more minutes.
- Serve: To serve, scoop out some chicken and plate. Add extra veggies and braising liquid over the chicken to serve. Enjoy!
- Leeks or onions: Generally, you can use onions in place of leeks if you don’t have leeks available. While that is the case here, I think you would lose some of the aromatics that flavor the dish, so I would encourage you to use leeks if you can.
- Potatoes: the first time we made this braised chicken, we had some leftover grilled baby potatoes, which were cut in half. We added those near the end of cooking. Using raw potatoes, you want them cut small enough to cook and become tender. We like baby potatoes cut in half for this, but you can use a larger potato and cut into smaller pieces.
- Mushrooms: You can use a bit more if you like. During a recent remake of the recipe, we added about ½ cup of baby shiitake mushrooms along with the 5 baby bellas.
Keywords: braised chicken thighs, boneless braised chicken thighs, braised chicken thighs with carrots and potatoes