I’ve been known to crave comfort food in the heat of summer but now that the temps have dropped and fall is here it’s less of a craving and more of a lifestyle. I love comfort food. I always want comfort food. (As evidenced by my love of soups.) And this simple lemon and fennel chicken thighs recipe is exactly what I need. Deeply flavorful and aromatic, it feels like the kind of fancy dish that takes way too long to prepare. But it’s actually incredibly straightforward — brown chicken thighs; cook down onions; deglaze pan; add aromatics and lemon juice; finish cooking in the oven.
These baked chicken thighs are absolutely perfect for a dinner party because they feel special but don’t take a ton of effort. So if the world ever goes back to normal and we can have dinner parties again, I’ll definitely be whipping this recipe out. Until then, I’ll be making them for myself regularly. They pair perfectly with rice or potatoes so you don’t lose out on any of the incredible (and I mean knee-wobbling incredible) pan gravy. Or you could definitely serve them with just a big gorgeous salad or a bunch of beautiful roasted veggies on the side. Just, please, don’t forget about the pan gravy.
Lemon And Fennel Chicken Thighs Recipe Notes
- The caramelized onions on the bottom of this dish are heavenly. And the best part is you don’t have to babysit a pan of onions for 45 minutes to enjoy them. After getting them started on the stovetop, the onions finish caramelizing in the oven and good lord do they turn out amazing.
- This recipe was made specifically for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Not only do they look gorgeous (yes, it matters), they are also a key part of what makes the pan gravy so damn flavorful. I’m sure you could swap in boneless, skinless chicken thighs but you’ll want to keep a close eye on them and cut the baking time down.
- I started adding fennel to my roast chicken thanks to the kitchen queen herself, Ina Garten. Even though I was skeptical at first, the fennel and lemon turned out to be the perfect combo for roast chicken. I never should have doubted the Barefoot Contessa
- I’ve made this recipe on both the stovetop/oven and in a slow cooker with great results. The stovetop/oven method creates gorgeously crispy skin and is a prettier presentation. But the slow cooker creates fall-off-the-bone chicken. It’s all personal preference. I’ve included both methods below.
Lemon and Fennel Chicken Thighs
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped or sliced
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Juice from half a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Pat chicken thighs dry then generously salt and pepper both sides. Heat an oven-safe lidded pan over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of the oil to the pan. When oil is shimmering, place chicken thighs in the pan skin-side down. Let cook undisturbed for 3-5 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Flip and let cook another 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add remaining oil to the pan, if needed, and reduce the heat a bit. Add onions and saute, stirring frequently, until onions begin to soften and turn translucent — about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Increase heat to high and add wine to the pan, scraping up any flavorful bits stuck to the bottom. Bring to boil and let boil/simmer for 2-3 minutes until the smell of alcohol is gone.
- Roughly chop thyme and fennel together. Or roughly grind in a small mortar and pestle.
- Add chicken thighs back into pan, skin side up. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken then sprinkle with thyme-fennel mixture. Cover with lid and place in a preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for 10 minutes more, until the skin is crispy and chicken registers 165° in the thickest part of the thigh.
- Serve with a side of rice, potatoes, roasted vegetables, a big salad… anything really.
- To adapt this recipe to a slow cooker, follow the recipe through to cooking down the wine. Then add onion mixture to the slow cooker and top with thighs. Squeeze lemon juice over and sprinkle with thyme fennel mixture. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Serve.