Italian braised chicken thighs make for a delicious and healthy dinner. The thighs are seared until crisp and then finish cooking in a red sauce seasoned with herbs! This rustic recipe is SCD, gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free, and added sugar free. There is also a Paleo and Whole30 option.
We tend to eat a lot of chicken at my house and unfortunately that can get old really quick! I'm constantly trying to mix things up with new flavors and this recipe has become a family favorite.
This flavorful Italian braised chicken thigh recipes yields crispy skin and a mouthwatering sauce comprised of tomatoes, red wine, mushrooms, and herbs!
What does it mean to braise?
Braising simply means to sear your chicken (or beef or fish) in a fat before slowly finishing the cooking process in a liquid.
The result is tender, flavorful meat and a delicious sauce to serve along with it!
Tips and Substitutions:
Chicken Thighs - I prefer to use skin on chicken thighs because they're typically more tender and juicy. Typically they're also inexpensive which is a bonus! However, skinless thighs or even chicken breasts can be used instead.
Crushed Tomatoes - I use the crushed tomatoes from the POMI brand. If you want to use fresh tomatoes, then you'll need to place 5 to 6 large tomatoes with the stems removed in a food processor. Hit the pulse button a few times until the tomatoes are in very small chunks. Measure out 14 ounces in your measuring cup for the recipe.
Dry Red Wine - If you prefer not to cook with wine, or are following Paleo or Whole30, then use chicken stock instead.
How to make Italian braised chicken thighs
Begin by placing a large oven safe saute pan over medium-high heat. The pan is hot enough to add the olive oil once a few drops of water dropped into the pan sizzle and evaporate.
Add the oil to the pan and then turn and tilt it to make sure the oil has covered the bottom entirely.
While the pan is heating, use a paper towel to pat the chicken thighs dry. Then generously season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper (photo 1).
Use tongs to very gently place the chicken thighs, skin side down, into the hot oil (photo 2). You should immediately hear a sizzling sound once the chicken touches the pan.
When searing it is 100% normal for the oil to spit, so take care not to burn yourself!
Cook for around five minutes before searing the other side for an additional five minutes (photo 3). You'll know it's time to flip the chicken once the skin is a golden brown and it releases easily from the pan. If the chicken is "stuck" to the pan, then cook a minute or two longer before flipping.
Once the chicken has been seared on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside.
Drop the heat to low and add the chopped onion and sliced mushrooms (photo 4). Cook until softened, making sure to stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Stir in the minced garlic and cook one minute longer before adding the dried thyme and red wine to the pan (photos 5 and 6). While stirring, make sure to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan, it will adds lots more flavor to the dish!
Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir in the salt and crushed tomatoes (photos 7 and 8). Carefully add the chicken thighs back to the pan and allow to come to a simmer (photo 9).
Cover the pan with a lid and place on the center rack of a 350F preheated oven. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165F.
If you'd like, garnish with some fresh thyme before serving.
What should I serve with this rustic dinner?
I don't think you can go wrong with my dairy free Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower recipe.
If your system can handle cheese, then my Creamy Cauliflower Mash is also a great choice!
Here are some more healthy and delicious chicken recipes to try!
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This recipe was originally published June 9, 2017 and was modified on February 25, 2021 with new photos, text, and a slight change in the recipe ingredients and directions.
Braised Italian Style Chicken
- 4 chicken thighs, skin on
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 Tablespoons dried thyme
- ⅓ cup dry red wine see notes for substitution
- 14 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning chicken
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper plus more for seasoning chicken
- Heat a large oven safe saute pan over medium-high heat. When a few drops of water dropped into the pan sizzle and evaporate, it's time to add the olive oil. Turn and tilt the pan to make sure the bottom is covered in the oil.
- While the oil is heating, pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and generously season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Gently place the chicken, skin sides down, into the hot oil. You should hear a sizzling once it hits the pan.
- Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, the skin should be browned, crisp, and the chicken should easily release from the pan. If it does not, then cook a bit longer. Flip the chicken over and cook for about another 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to low and in the same pan, add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Saute until tender.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Add the dried thyme and red wine to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer before adding the tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
- Stir the mixture well before placing the chicken thighs, skin side up, back into the pan and bringing to a simmer.
- Cover the pan with a lid and place on the center rack of the oven and continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs reaches 165F.
- Optional: Garnish with fresh thyme leaves before serving.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- ⅓ cup of chicken stock can be used instead of the dry red wine for a Paleo and Whole30 option.