Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce is one of those marvelous dinner dishes that looks and tastes like it took way more effort than it actually did. This French-Inspired chicken dish is date-night-worthy-delicious and comes together in under an hour.
- French-inspired chicken with fresh herbs
- What white wine is best to cook with?
- Should you cook with an expensive bottle of wine?
- Can I substitute wine for a non-alcoholic ingredient?
- Can I use a different cut of chicken than boneless thighs?
- What is the best internal temperature for chicken thighs?
- How to peel pearl onions quickly
- What to serve creamy chicken thighs with
- What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce
French-inspired chicken with fresh herbs
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 citrusy 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.
What white wine is best to cook with?
I prefer to use a dry white wine in this French chicken 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.
Should you cook with an expensive bottle of wine?
Because the wine reduces toward the beginning of the cooking process, any special nuances that you may find in an expensive bottle of wine are likely to be masked so I prefer to save the premium wines for drinking and choose a less expensive bottle for cooking. However, this recipe only requires 8 oz (1 cup) of wine, so choose a bottle that you will still enjoy drinking as there will be a considerable amount left over.
Can I substitute wine for a non-alcoholic ingredient?
If you prefer not to use wine, you may substitute for an equal portion of chicken stock with a squeeze of lemon or splash of Champagne vinegar (which has only trace amounts of alcohol) to balance the acidity.
Can I use a different cut of chicken than boneless thighs?
Bone-In Chicken Thighs
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.
I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this skillet chicken recipe 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 dairy-free sauce like the one in this recipe.
However, you can use bone-in chicken thighs if you prefer. If you choose to use bone-in thighs, you'll want to ensure that the skin is properly pan-browned and adjust the cooking time in the oven, increasing it by around 10-15 minutes.
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 its 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 (74 C).
What is the best internal temperature for chicken thighs?
The minimum safe internal temperature of cooked chicken is 165 degrees F (75 C), which is an ideal temperature for chicken breasts. However, I prefer to cook chicken thighs to a higher internal temperature between 175-195 degrees F (80-90 C). The reason chicken thighs should be cooked to a higher temperature is due to the abundance of connective tissue. The longer the chicken cooks, the more connective tissue breaks down into gelatin, rendering a more tender and juicy chicken thigh.
How to peel pearl onions quickly
Peeling pearl onions can be a tedious task to do by hand. Thankfully, there's a super easy way to prep pearl onions quickly:
- 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 about 1-minute.
- 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 skip the work of peeling pearl onion, you can use pre-peeled frozen pearl onions. However, you'll want to note that they are more likely to end up softer and less likely to hold their shape when cooking than using fresh pearl onions.
What to serve creamy chicken thighs with
These Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce are wonderful served with mashed potatoes or low-carb mashed cauliflower. Both options allow you to take full advantage of the gorgeous, creamy herb sauce and are neutral enough to let the chicken thighs, carrots, and onions take center stage. If you prefer, this chicken thigh recipe can also be served on top of rice, which also works well with the creamy sauce.
Some of my favorite side dishes to pair with this main course chicken recipe:
- Dijon Creamed Greens
- Charred Broccolini with Lemon, Pine Nuts, and Parmesan
- Kale Salad with Roasted Beets and Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Blue Cheese, and Candied Walnuts
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A large cast-iron pan or oven-safe skillet
- A cutting board
- A chef's knife
- A citrus zester
- A citrus juicer
- A kitchen scale
- Liquid measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- A small mixing bowl
- Tongs or a metal spatula
- A wooden spoon or spatula
- Paper towels (for pat-drying the chicken)
- A plate to reserve the seared chicken
Are you looking to upgrade your cooking tools or replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.Print
Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce is one of those marvelous dinner dishes that looks and tastes like it took way more effort than it actually did. This dish is date-night-worthy-delicious and comes together in under an hour.
- 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 8 oz (1 cup) dry white wine (may substitute with chicken stock + squeeze of lemon juice)
- 8 oz pearl onions, trimmed and peeled
- 300 g (2 cups) peeled and sliced carrots (I used tri-color)
- Zest of 1 orange (about 4 tsp)
- 2.7 oz (⅓ cup) fresh orange juice
- 6 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 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 Kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper, divided
- Optional: Mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, or rice for serving
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 C).
- In a large cast-iron pan (or oven-safe skillet) over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoon olive oil.
- Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel then season with ¾ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Once the oil in the pan is glistening, add the chicken. Sear for 4-minutes on one side without disturbing, then using a pair of tongs or metal spatula, flip to sear the opposite side for an additional 4-minutes.
- While the chicken sears: In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil, orange zest, orange juice, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, thyme, and tarragon. Stir to combine, then reserve to the side.
- Once the chicken has been seared on both sides, transfer it to a plate and reserve to the side.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Carefully add the wine to the pan (it will sizzle) and allow to reduce for 1-minute, scraping the pan if there are any bits of chicken that may have stuck to the pan, then add the onions. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced by half, then add the carrots to the pan along with 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. For tender and juicy chicken thighs, the internal temperature should register between 175-195 degrees F (80-90 C)** when tested with a meat thermometer.
- Optional: Serve over top of mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, or rice.
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.
2/24/23 This recipe was updated and may no longer fit specified dietary preferences from previous versions of this post.
*You can substitute the minced garlic and regular olive oil in favor of garlic-unfused olive oil if you prefer.
**The minimum safe internal temperature of cooked chicken is 165 degrees F (75 C), which is an ideal temperature for chicken breasts. However, I prefer to cook chicken thighs to a higher internal temperature between 175-195 degrees F (80-90 C). The reason chicken thighs should be cooked to a higher temperature is due to the abundance of connective tissue. The longer the chicken cooks, the more connective tissue breaks down into gelatin, rendering a more tender and juicy chicken thigh.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 543
- Sugar: 8 g
- Sodium: 1249 mg
- Fat: 26 g
- Saturated Fat: 4 g
- Carbohydrates: 14 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 47 g
- Cholesterol: 210 mg
Keywords: chicken thighs, chicken, cast-iron, skillet, 1 pan, orange, dairy-free