Skillet Chicken in Balsamic Caramelized Onion Cream Sauce
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Tender skillet chicken in balsamic caramelized onion cream sauce. All you need are a few simple ingredients, and you’ve got a restaurant-quality meal at home. And you won’t believe how easy it is to put this together!
Here we goooooo!
🎶Here were go one more time, everybody’s feeling fine, here we go noooow!🎶 Quick – name that 90’s song!
This balsamic caramelized onion chicken is the newest addition to my one skillet chicken dinner recipes. Tender seasoned chicken that’s been seared in a pan, and then we use that golden beautiful fond (the French word for the brown stuff stuck to the bottom of your skillet) to make a ridiculously delicious, so-good-you’ll-wanna-cry pan sauce.
I shared this dinner with my parents one evening. And let me tell you, I didn’t expect this. My dad is not someone who’s easily impressed by food in general. He just isn’t. So imagine my surprise when he takes a bite and realizes that even he couldn’t stop eating the balsamic cream sauce. I know you don’t know him, but this is earth-shattering if you know my dad.
What do you need to make skillet chicken in balsamic caramelized onion cream sauce:
- Chicken: I like to use 4 small chicken breasts for this recipe (or roughly 1 ½ pounds of chicken.) If you can’t find small chicken breasts, feel free to use larger ones; just split them in half horizontally and pound the chicken down so that it cooks evenly. You could also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. Bone-in thighs will also work. However, they will take significantly longer to cook. I suggest using a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked through o 165ºF.
- Seasonings: I love this recipe because it uses tons of pantry staple ingredients. We’ll need salt, pepper, garlic powder, sugar, thyme (fresh or dried,) and red pepper flakes.
- Oil: the oil is used for cooking the chicken since it cooks for a while, and we don’t want to risk burning the butter.
- Chopped onions: we’ll start the sauce with chopped onions and butter. You could use a red, yellow, or even white onion for this recipe. To make it even fancier, use shallots!
- Butter: just a bit of butter will help soften the onions as they cook low and slow. If you use salted butter, be sure only lightly to season the chicken or use low sodium chicken stock because you don’t want it to be too salty at the end!
- Sugar: a few pinches of sugar helps bring out the sweetness in this sauce and it balance the salty and acidic notes.
- Balsamic vinegar: This one is pretty self-explanatory! Balsamic gives the sauce that very notable flavor.
- Chicken broth: if you prefer a thicker sauce and plan on reducing it, I suggest using low sodium chicken stock for this recipe.
- Heavy cream: The cream adds that touch of luxury to this dish, making it perfect for weeknights and even better to serve company! Heck – skillet chicken in balsamic cream sauce would be perfect for a holiday dinner!
How to make skillet chicken in balsamic caramelized onion cream sauce:
- This skillet chicken recipe starts the way all my skillet chicken recipes do. We’ll season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then, we’ll cook the chicken in a skillet all the way through. To make this recipe even simpler than my chicken in lemon garlic cream sauce, I took the liberty of skipping the oven time on this recipe altogether. Cook the chicken all the way through in the skillet. Then remove it to a plate. We’ll use the fond as the base of our cream sauce.
- Then we’ll add butter to the pan along with the finely chopped onions. The onions will pick up all the brown bits left behind by the chicken. and they’ll have that delicious flavor all wrapped around them. Be sure to cook the onions on low and slow because you want them to pick up all the flavor and soften slowly. We cook them on a lower heat setting because we don’t want them to brown too quickly. This will give them that signature caramelized onion flavor.
- Season the onions around the halfway point with a pinch of sugar and some fresh thyme. Towards the end, when the onions are brown, we’ll deglaze all that caramelized goodness that should now be coating the pan with balsamic vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will help release all the flavor bits stuck to the bottom. Then, we’ll make a sauce by adding chicken broth and finally, a big splash of cream.
I’ve made your chicken in balsamic caramelized onion cream sauce before, why does the recipe look different?
Originally, I had left a note about doubling the ingredients from the chopped onions to the heavy cream to make more sauce. Because we’ve had sooo many readers wanting more sauce that I went ahead and doubled the recipe’s ingredients (and adjusted the recipe directions.) You no longer need to double the ingredients for extra sauce! However, if you prefer the recipe with less sauce, feel free to halve everything from the onions all the way down to the heavy cream, which will yield less sauce at the end – just enough for the chicken.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Balsamic Tomato Baked Chicken
- One Skillet Chicken in Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce (the recipe that inspired this one)
- Greek Chicken Meatballs in Lemon Cream Sauce
- Perfect One Hour Whole Roasted Chicken
- Saucy Burst Tomato Basil Chicken
- Pesto Baked Chicken with Tomatoes
This recipe was originally shared Sept. 2017 and updated with new pictures, texts, and double the sauce in Dec. 2020.
- 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup EACH: chicken broth AND heavy cream
- COOK THE CHICKEN: season both sides of the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken all the way through, roughly 6-12 minutes depending on the size. Make sure chicken reaches 165ºF on a thermometer; remove the chicken to a plate.
- CARAMELIZE THE ONIONS: add the butter to the skillet along with the onions. Push the onions around the pan so they pick up all the flavor bits left behind by the chicken, lower the heat to medium-low and allow the onions to cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring them as needed to prevent from sticking. The onions are done when they soften completely and deepen in color. Add the thyme, red pepper flakes, sugar, and balsamic vinegar, let the vinegar cook out for a couple of minutes.
- MAKE THE SAUCE: Grab a whisk for this next step. Slowly pour in the chicken broth in a steady stream while you whisk, this will help deglaze the pan. Kick the heat up to high and let the sauce reduce for 2-3 minutes or until it thickens a bit. Once the sauce reduces, lower the heat again, and add in the cream. You don't want the cream to start boiling immediately as it will cause the sauce to split. Let the sauce come to a gentle simmer, once it does, add in the chicken breasts and spoon the sauce on top. Serve immediately. The sauce will thicken as it sits so you may need additional broth to thin it out.
- 12/20: Originally, I had left a note about doubling the ingredients from the chopped onions to the heavy cream to make more sauce, but we’ve had sooo many readers wanting more sauce, that I went ahead and doubled the ingredients in the recipe (and adjusted the recipe directions.) You no longer need to double the ingredients for extra sauce!
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