Date Night Worthy Chicken
Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce is one of those marvelous dishes that looks and tastes like it took way more effort than it actually did.
Boneless chicken thighs are quickly seared in a cast iron pan before nestling into a bed of carrots, pearl onions, and creamy Orange Dijon Herb Sauce, then roasted in the oven until tender and lovely. The Orange Dijon Herb Sauce combines the sweet citrus notes of orange zest and juice, sharp Dijon mustard, and the classic French herbs tarragon and thyme. When added to a reduction of dry white wine and pearl onions, this sauce becomes magically creamy, without the need for cream or dairy of any kind.
This dish is date-night-worthy-delicious and comes together in under an hour.
Choosing the right white wine
I prefer to use a dry white wine in this dish because it offers the right amount of acidity to enhance the flavors in the sauce. Alternatively, fuller-bodied oaky white wine tends to turn bitter when reduced and sweet whites may throw the flavor off as well. A few good options for dry white wine include: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Sémillon. Because the wine reduces toward the beginning of the cooking process, any special nuances that you may find in a spendy bottle of wine are likely to be masked so save the premium wines for drinking and choose a less expensive bottle for cooking.
If you prefer not to use wine, you may substitute for an equal portion of chicken stock with a squeeze of lemon or splash champagne vinegar to balance the acidity.
Can I use a different cut of chicken than boneless thighs?
Yes, of course. However, I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this dish because they offer the rich and juicy flavors of dark meat, but cook much quicker than their bone-in counterparts, making them perfect for busy weeknights. They're also the ideal cut to use when smothering in a creamy sauce like this one. Though bone-in chicken thighs provide the deepest chicken flavor, owing to the marrow in the bone, deboning a super saucy piece of chicken with a knife and fork is the last thing I want to do once it hits my plate. I prefer to reserve bone-in thighs for less saucy, fried or roasted chicken dishes.
If you choose to use bone-in thighs, you'll want to adjust the cooking time in the oven, increasing by around 10-15 minutes in order to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (75 C).
For those wondering if you can swap boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe, the answer is also yes, though I highly advise against it if given the choice. Though chicken breast is a tempting choice to use given it's lean qualities, it's also much less forgiving when overcooked. An extraneous 5 minutes in the oven can turn chicken breasts dry and stringy, but is unlikely to ruin moisture-rich dark meat thighs. Simply put, less fat equals less flavor and less moisture. Chicken breasts also tend to be much more expensive than other cuts, so you're getting the added bonus of likely saving a little money when choosing dark meat chicken.
If you choose to use boneless skinless chicken breasts, you'll want to adjust the cooking time in the oven to only 15-20 minutes in order to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (75 C).
The trick to peeling pearl onions fast
Peeling pearl onions can be a tedious task to do by hand. Thankfully, there's a super easy way to prep these quickly with little fuss.
- Trim the root end of each onion off
- Set a pot of water to boil
- Add the onions to the boiling water to blanch for 1-2 minutes (many say only 30 seconds is needed, but I like to leave mine in slightly longer)
- Drain the water and transfer the onions to a bowl of ice water - This will not only help the peel separate from the bulb, but also make the onions cool enough to handle
- Pinch the ends of each onion and slide the outer layer of skin off
If you'd like to see a video of this in action, you can find a quick tutorial here.
What to serve Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce with
I love serving this dish over the top of low-carb mashed cauliflower or their carby cousin, mashed potatoes. Both options allow you to take full advantage of the gorgeous, creamy Orange Dijon Herb Sauce and are neutral enough to let the chicken thighs, carrots, and onions take center stage. Though I generally season my mash simply with butter, salt, and pepper for this recipe, you can also check out this recipe for Cheddar Mashed Cauliflower if you want to kick your mash up a notch further.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- large cast-iron pan or large oven-safe skillet
- cutting board
- a good chefs knife
- a microplane/zester and a citrus juicer
- measuring cups and spoons
- a small mixing bowl
- paper towels (for pat-drying the chicken)
- A plate to reserve the seared chicken
- Tongs or a metal spatula
Are you looking for an upgrade to your kitchen tools or looking to replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and my pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.
A note for special diets
This recipe for Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce is grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and friendly for Paleo and Keto diets.
If you would like to make this dish friendly for Low-FODMAP diets, you'll want to omit the pearl onions and make sure that you utilize the suggested garlic oil rather than the olive oil/garlic clove swap. I personally can't eat the fibrous part of onions due to FODMAPs, but enjoy the flavor they impart in the dish overall so I cook this dish with them, but spoon them all onto the fella's plate in the end.
If you want to make this dish friendly for Whole30 diets, you'll want to swap the white wine for chicken stock with a squeeze of lemon or splash of white wine vinegar.Print
Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce is date-night-worthy-delicious and comes together in under an hour. It fits Paleo and Keto diets and has easy swaps for Low-FODMAP and Whole30 diets.
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup dry white wine (may substitute equal measure of chicken stock + squeeze of lemon juice for Whole30)
- 8 oz pearl onions, trimmed and peeled (omit for Low-FODMAP diets)
- 2 cups sliced carrots (I used tri-color)
- zest of 1 orange (about 5 tsp)
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- 6 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp garlic oil (may sub 2 tbsp olive oil + 2 cloves minced garlic)
- 1 ½ tsp fresh thyme OR ½ tsp dry thyme
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon OR 1 tsp dry tarragon
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt, divided
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper, divided
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 C). Heat a large cast-iron pan (or oven safe skillet) on the stovetop over medium-high heat and add avocado oil.
- Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel then season with ¾ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Once the pan is hot, sear chicken for 4 minutes on one side without disturbing. Flip the opposite side with tongs or a metal spatula and sear for an additional 4 minutes. Transfer seared chicken to a plate and reserve to the side.
- Turn heat down to medium. Add the wine to the pan carefully as it will sizzle and splatter.
- Allow to reduce for 1 minute, scraping the pan if there are any bits of chicken that may have stuck to the pan. Add the pearl onions and allow the wine to continue cooking until reduced by half, about 4-5 minutes.
- While the wine is reducing, mix the orange zest, orange juice, Dijon mustard, garlic oil, thyme, and tarragon in a small bowl. Reserve to the side.
- Add carrots to the pan with onions and wine, then the reserved chicken, moving them around so that everything is nestled in cozily.
- Cover the chicken, onions, and carrots with the reserved sauce, coating evenly. Sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper on top.
- Transfer the pan to the preheated oven to roast for 25 minutes. A meat thermometer should register the center of the chicken at atleast 165 degrees F when finished.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 portion
- Calories: 512
- Sugar: 8
- Sodium: 1757
- Fat: 23
- Saturated Fat: 4
- Carbohydrates: 14
- Fiber: 4
- Protein: 48
- Cholesterol: 210
Keywords: chicken, cast-iron, orange, dairy-free