One skillet is all you need to make this tender and juicy apple cider chicken. The process is really easy: coat chicken thighs with a cozy, flavorful mix of warm spices and cook them in a skillet. Remove, and then prepare a super simple apple cider pan sauce with sweet apples and shallots. This is a quick, crowd-pleasing 35-minute dinner recipe you’ll want to make on repeat all autumn long!
If you love spiced apple cider and jump for joy at the thought of a quick & easy chicken dinner, you’ll flip for this generously spiced apple cider chicken dish. It’s wonderfully savory, and has a kiss of sweetness from the apple cider and brown sugar.
FALL IN LOVE!
Here’s Why You’ll Love This Apple Cider Chicken
- Quick and easy 1-pan meal
- Extra tender, juicy chicken
- Basically fall in a skillet 😉
- Cozy warm spices with salty, sweet, and savory flavors
- Apple cider and butter obviously make a delicious pan sauce
- Undeniably crowd pleasing, so you’ll want to make again and again
If there’s one stand-out meal you make during the fall season… one that will have everyone talking and demanding you make on repeat… it’s this.
The best part of this dish, obviously besides its ease and the FABULOUS apple cider pan sauce, is the robust mix of spices. I adapted this dish from a Cooking Light recipe I found, and added quite a bit more spice so the flavors really stand out.
Use These Spices for the Best Flavor
- Salt & Pepper
- Ground Coriander
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Nutmeg
- Dried Thyme Leaves
You also need chicken, a little butter and olive oil, a touch of brown sugar, apples (no need to peel), shallots, and… the star of the show… apple cider. Be sure to use apple cider, the nonalcoholic beverage, and not apple cider vinegar. You’ll be deeply disappointed with that mistake!
A little tip: Fresh apple cider typically appears in grocery stores and farm markets around late summer, but can get harder to find by the end of the year. To ensure I can make this cozy recipe all throughout the winter, I like to freeze some apple cider in an ice cube tray, then defrost a couple of frozen cider cubes whenever I want to make it. Or try making your own homemade apple cider!
Success Tip: Use Chicken Thighs Instead of Chicken Breasts
If you want to make this recipe with chicken breasts instead of thighs you can, but you’ll lose some flavor. Chicken thighs are a fattier cut of meat, so they taste much richer than chicken breast meat. They are also smaller than most chicken breasts, so they cook faster on the stove. If you use chicken breasts, I recommend buying the thin-sliced or tenderloin cuts.
But for best results with this recipe, I strongly recommend chicken thighs.
Start the Chicken, Then Make the Pan Sauce
Ideally, you want a pretty big skillet for this recipe, and I usually use my 12-inch cast-iron skillet. This is the same skillet I use to make creamy garlic chicken. If your skillet is small, you can cook the chicken in batches. You can also use a Dutch oven.
Sprinkle the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs, then cook the chicken in a little oil, flipping once, until both sides are golden-brown and the internal temperature has reached 165°F (74°C).
Remove the chicken and set aside.
Add the butter to the pan (don’t wipe it out first—you want the flavorful spices and drippings from the chicken in there for the pan sauce!), and swirl to coat. Add the apple and shallot slices and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften. Pour in the apple cider, and cook until the apples are crisp-tender, and the sauce has thickened a bit.
Finish up by adding the cooked chicken back to the pan—just for a couple minutes, to warm it back up and mix everything together.
I like to garnish the dish with more thyme, plus some fresh rosemary if I have it on hand. To serve, place the chicken thighs on plates, then top each piece of chicken with a big scoop of apples and shallots, along with that delicious apple cider pan sauce.
Coriander brings a lot of flavor to this dish, so I don’t recommend skipping it or substituting it. In an absolute pinch, you can substitute with ground caraway, or with 1/4 teaspoon each dried oregano and ground cumin.
You can, but you’ll lose some flavor. Apple cider is fresh, unfiltered, and typically unpasteurized, so it’s more like the raw, purer version of juiced apples. Apple juice has had the pulp and sediment filtered out, and is pasteurized to extend its shelf life.
Most apple varieties work for this recipe, though I’d steer clear of softer, mealier varieties like Red Delicious and McIntosh, which could cook down into mush. I tend to use one tart apple (like Granny Smith) and one sweet apple (like Honeycrisp). I use this same half tart/half sweet trick pretty much every time I bake with apples, whether I’m making apple pie or apple cinnamon bread.
My best apples for baking also applies here. 😉
What to Serve With Apple Cider Chicken
This chicken recipe pairs with many different side dishes. I like to serve it with green beans and rice, which can both be made on the stove as well. (Sometimes I have to give my oven a night off!)
But this apple cider chicken is also tasty with potatoes or sweet potatoes, a fresh green salad, dinner rolls or brown butter sage dinner rolls, or cornbread. If you’re feeding a larger crowd and want some more substantial side dish options, try green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, mushroom puff pastry tarts, or zucchini casserole.
One skillet is all you need to cook this tender, juicy chicken with sweet apples and apple cider sauce. A blend of spices add impeccable flavor, and the apple cider sauce is made right in the same skillet! Review recipe Notes before starting.
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound (454g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
- 2 cups (250g) apple slices (about 1/4-inch-thick slices, no need to peel)
- 1/3 cup (40g) chopped shallots (or yellow onion)
- 1/3 cup (80ml) apple cider (NOT apple cider vinegar)
- optional: fresh thyme and rosemary, for garnish
- Heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat. I usually use a cast iron skillet, but any skillet this size works. You can also use a Dutch oven.
- In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 teaspoon salt, the coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried thyme, and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture over both sides of the chicken thighs.
- Add a drizzle of oil to the hot skillet, and swirl to coat. Add the chicken thighs to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for 5 more minutes or until cooked through (internal temperature should be at least 165°F (74°C)). Transfer chicken to a plate and cover lightly. You’ll add it back to the pan in the end of the next step.
- Add the butter to the pan (no need to wipe it out first), and gently swirl to coat as it melts. Add the brown sugar, apples, and shallots, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in the apple cider and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cider sauce has slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Spoon the apple mixture over the chicken to serve. Garnish with fresh thyme and rosemary, if desired.
- Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days. The butter in the sauce will solidify, but once you reheat, it all comes back together. You can reheat on the stove over medium heat or in the microwave.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Cast-Iron Skillet | Tongs | Instant-Read Thermometer
- What can I use instead of coriander? Ground coriander brings a lot of flavor to this dish, so I don’t recommend skipping it or substituting it. In an absolute pinch, you can just leave it out or substitute ground caraway, or 1/4 teaspoon each dried oregano and ground cumin.
- Can I use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs? You can, but you’ll lose some flavor, and they may take longer to cook. For best results, I strongly recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- Can I use apple juice instead of apple cider? You can, but you’ll lose some flavor. Apple cider is fresh, unfiltered, and typically unpasteurized, so it’s more like the raw, purer version of juiced apples. Apple juice has had the pulp and sediment filtered out, and is pasteurized to extend its shelf life.
- Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 247
- Sugar: 19.7 g
- Sodium: 523.1 mg
- Fat: 9.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 23.1 g
- Protein: 17.4 g
- Cholesterol: 95.2 mg
Keywords: apple cider chicken