Smothered Chicken – This perfectly tender and juicy fried chicken in a savory, creamy gravy right from your stovetop is the ideal weeknight dinner. It’s easy and delicious to the max, my friend. This recipe is the epitome of comfort food.
Most soul food recipes don’t require much labor or hard-to-find ingredients. You and your family will be sitting around the dining room table enjoying this classic Southern meal in just around an hour. Honestly, smothered chicken with homemade chicken gravy makes a perfect dinner for busy weeknights.
Who’s kidding? This deliciousness works even for a stay-at-home dinner date when you feel like spoiling your loved ones. The savory, herby flavor with a little kick in every spoonful will make everyone happy. And if you want more gravy, double that part of the recipe and shamelessly pour it all over your steaming rice or mashed potatoes. I won’t judge! 😉
Easy to Make Gravy
Easy-to-Make Gravy for Smothered Chicken
Yes! I guarantee you it’s 100% easier than it looks. I’ve made this homemade gravy countless times, and it’s foolproof! Did I mention it always gets a five-star review from my kiddo and hubby? 😆
You’ll find more specific instructions below, but it basically just involves sautéing butter and flour and then whisking in chicken broth and milk before returning the chicken to the pan. Easy as pie!
- Chicken Thighs – I love the flavor of the dark meat on chicken thighs for this recipe but feel free to use the cut of chicken you like best. Even chicken breasts will work. Just adjust your cooking times so you don’t end up with dry chicken.
- Seasonings – Bring the chicken to life with Cajun seasoning, paprika, cayenne pepper, white pepper, garlic cloves, and fresh thyme. You can turn the head down by using less cayenne and Cajun seasoning or omitting it altogether.
- Onion – Cooked onion compliments the chicken and gravy in this recipe so well. It’s heavenly.
- Gravy – Butter, chicken broth, and milk make a creamy, savory gravy that is out of this world. 🤩
How to Make Smothered Chicken
Pan-Fry the Chicken
- Prep the Chicken – Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, then season them with salt and Cajun seasoning.
- Seasoning – Mix the flour, paprika, cayenne, white pepper, granulated onion, and garlic powder in a bowl. Dredge the seasoned chicken in flour mixture on each side until coated. Shake off excess flour.
- Fry the Chicken – Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat; then fry the chicken on both sides until golden brown — 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from skillet and place on a plate.
- Saute the Herbs – Next, add the chopped onion to the skillet and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and fresh thyme and continue cooking for 3-5 more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove onions and set them aside.
Make the Gravy
- Melt Butter – Add butter to the pan and let it melt.
- Add Flour – Then, throw in the seasoned flour left over from dredging the chicken to the skillet and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together and forms a paste.
- Liquids – Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, followed by milk making sure there are no lumps; stirring and scraping the pan well until the liquid is smooth. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens slightly, for about 5 minutes.
- Add Herbs – Then return wilted onions to the skillet and stir. Taste it and adjust the seasoning.
- Add Chicken – Finally, add the browned chicken and its juice to the skillet.
- Simmer – Bring the gravy to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Slowly cook for about 30-45 minutes or more, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom and burning.
- Finishing Touches – Do a final taste test and adjust seasonings before serving. Enjoy!
- Meat Swap – Swap out the chicken for pork chops to make a smothered chops meal instead. It is equally delicious!
- Low Salt – If you are watching your sodium intake, use unsalted butter and low-sodium chicken broth. Use salt sparingly, too, and you’re good to go.
- Bacon – You can also top this meal with bacon bits, preferably homemade, which is also delicious. If you fry up some bacon for this purpose, you can reserve some of the drippings to add to the gravy for an extra flavor boost. Use as much or as little as you desire.
Tips and Tricks
- For a darker gravy, cook the flour for a longer time over low heat. But if you want a lighter gravy, cook the flour for less time over high heat while whisking continuously.
- If the gravy is thicker than you’d like, add a little water – up to 1 tablespoon – until you achieve your desired consistency.
- Add the liquid in small increments to get a nice thick gravy, and whisk constantly. If you add it all at once, your gravy might turn out too runny.
- If your gravy turned lumpy despite all your precautions, give it a blitz in the blender. Done!😉
This meal is best served hot off the stove. That said, there are elements of this recipe you can make ahead of time. For example, you can season and bread the chicken the day before. Then store it in the fridge and take it out when you are ready to start.
Serving and Storage Instructions
After serving straight from the stove, you can garnish the chicken with bacon bits, chives, parsley, or any other garnish you love.
Store your leftover smothered chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for five days, or freeze it for three months. But everybody knows fried chicken is best when consumed right away. 😉
The best way to reheat smothered chicken is in a covered, oven-safe dish in a preheated 375℉/190℃ oven for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce bubbles and the chicken is heated through. You can also reheat this meal in the microwave.
Most people in Southern Louisiana have a famous family recipe for smothered chicken, so it is a popular Cajun dish. That said, people all over the world love smothered chicken in various forms, so I wouldn’t say it’s exclusively Cajun.
While both dishes have scrumptious gravy, stewed chicken is boiled, while smothered chicken is fried. That’s the main difference between the two dishes.
Lumpy gravy can happen if you don’t make sure the butter and flour come completely together before adding the broth and milk. It can also occur if you add all the liquids without slowly stirring them in a little at a time. Take your time to avoid lumpy gravy.
What Goes With Smothered Chicken
More Incredible Soul Food Recipes to Try
- Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
- Shrimp and Grits
- Biscuits and Gravy
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Southern Black-Eyed Peas
- Fried Okra
This straightforward and creamilicious chicken recipe is waiting for you to try it.❤️ Are you hungry for more super simple recipes for a happy family? Then sign up for my newsletter and keep yourself up to date.👍
Watch How to Make It
This blog post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated with additional tips.
- 3 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in and skinless
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (or more to taste)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or your preferred cooking oil)
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups chicken broth
- ¾-1 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, then season with salt and Cajun seasoning. Mix flour, paprika, cayenne, white pepper, granulated onion, and garlic powder in a bowl.
- Dredge the seasoned chicken in the flour mixture on each side until coated. Shake off excess flour.
- Heat oil in a cast-iron or skillet over medium-high heat. Then fry chicken on both sides until golden brown — 4 to 5 minutes per side or until browned.
- Remove chicken from the skillet and place it on a plate. Add onions to the skillet, and saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and thyme and continue cooking for 3-5 more minutes until onions wilt, occasionally stirring to prevent it from burning. Remove onions and set them aside.
- Add butter to the pan, and let it melt. Then throw in the seasoned flour left over from dredging the chicken and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together and forms a paste.
- Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, followed by the milk, ensuring there are no lumps. Stir and scrape the pan well until everything is incorporated. The mixture should thicken slightly in about 5 minutes. Return wilted onions to the skillet. Thoroughly mix and season with salt.
- Add browned chicken with its juice to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer for 30-45 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Garnish with parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Tips & Notes:
- You can use other chicken cuts if you prefer. But make sure to adjust cooking times.
- For a darker gravy, you may cook the flour for a longer time over low heat. But if you want the lighter one, cook the flour for less time over high heat while whisking continuously.
- If the gravy seems too thick, add up to a tablespoon of water to achieve your desired consistency.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.