Honey Skillet Chicken Thighs

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , February 25, 2020

Chefs are nothing if not creative, but sometimes every cook can get into a rut. And there may be nothing that induces a rut more than your basic roasted chicken. We like what we like. We’ve figured out our perfect technique and favorite ingredients and it’s just an easy go to.

But how about dialing it up a little with a slightly different approach, if not for clients perhaps for yourself? As in a skillet chicken with a finger-licking sauce?

This would certainly work for any piece of chicken–including a whole cut up chicken–but I’m partial to thighs. I love their moistness and flavor.

Since I like to caramelize chicken skin with honey on occasion we start here with honey, along with garlic–such a great pairing. To offset the honey’s sweetness I use anchovies. I have a large tin of salted Sicilian anchovies and they’re perfect to mince with the garlic. Meyer lemons are in season this time of year so clearly they, too, factor in.

Finally, butter. Yeah, butter, browned and foamy and nutty. That pulls it all together.

Making this dish isn’t just a matter of throwing the ingredients together and shoving the pan in the oven to bake for awhile. Nope, you have to hover over the stove to build the flavors.

So, pull out your reliable cast iron skillet and add a tablespoon of unsalted butter. While the butter melts over the heat, season the chicken thighs with a little salt and pepper. Then, with butter sizzling, place the thighs into the skillet to sear, skin side down first, then turned to cook for a few more minutes. Remove, along with most of the pan juices, which you can discard (the juices, not the chicken, of course). Add just a bit more butter to the skillet, scraping up the bits, and gradually the stirred butter foams and browns. To that add the honey, stirring it to get it to dissolve, then the garlic and anchovies. Now don’t make a face. The anchovies are fairly indiscernible in the dish, but create this lovely underlying salty umami.

Once the aroma becomes this side of mouth watering, add the lemon juice. Now you’ve got sweet, salty, and tart in a molten sauce. That’s when you add the chicken back to the pan skin side up and continue cooking, spooning some of that sauce over the chicken to baste. You’ll cover the pan to finish it up before running the skillet under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp the skin.

And that’s it. For the effort, you get tender, juicy chicken bathed in one of the best sauces you’ll ever love. Serve it over rice. Serve it over greens. I chose arugula for the spiciness. Then spoon the sauce over it all and swoon a bit.

Honey Skillet Chicken Thighs with Meyer Lemon, Garlic, and Anchovies


4 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 anchovies, minced
Juice from 1 lemon


Preheat your oven to broil.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch oven-proof pan or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. While the butter melts, season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Sear chicken thighs, skin side down first, until the skin is crispy. Turn and sear again until golden. Drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the pan juices. Transfer chicken to a warm plate.

Melt the rest of the butter in the same pan or skillet the chicken was seared in over medium heat, scraping any bits left over in the pan from the chicken with a spatula. Stir the butter and swirl the pan occasionally for about 3 minutes as the butter changes color to golden brown and has a nutty fragrance.

Add the honey and stir it into the butter to dissolve. Then add in the garlic and anchovies. Sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the lemon juice. Stir well to create a well-blended sauce.

Return the chicken thighs skin side up to the pan with the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes uncovered in the sauce, occasionally basting the skin with the pan juices. Reduce heat to simmer, cover the skillet with a lid, and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use a thermometer to measure the doneness. It will be fully cooked at 165 degrees F.

Remove the lid and transfer the skillet to your oven to broil for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tops of the chicken are nicely charred. Then remove from oven.

Serve over rice or a plate of arugula. Drizzle sauce over the chicken and rice/arugula.

Have you recently been in a chicken rut? How did you change things up?

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Caron Golden


Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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