This smothered chicken recipe has juicy pan-fried chicken in the ultimate gravy! It's rich, perfectly seasoned, and made from scratch with pantry staples.
You may want to try my Easy Smothered Pork Chops and Gravy next for another stovetop favorite with similar flavors.
Why you'll enjoy it
Golden smothered chicken breasts are the best example of really good homestyle cooking for the family, in my opinion. My take on it makes loads of gravy to drench a big pile of mashed potatoes, which is definitely the most special part of the whole dish!
Another great thing is that there's nothing complicated about making this skillet chicken recipe that has everyday pantry seasonings. It's weeknight comfort food at its finest. There's an irresistible heat in the homemade chicken gravy that's balanced with sweetness from the onions, making this one mouthwatering meal.
What you'll need
- Chicken - we're using two large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise to make four thinner cutlets that cook faster
- Flour - for dredging the cutlets and getting that perfect crust when pan frying and making the base of the sauce
- Seasoning - garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper are what we're using for that bold signature flavor in the seasoned flour
- Olive oil & butter - for pan frying
- Onion - our kitchen likes sweet (Vidalia) in this one
- Chicken broth - for deeper, richer flavor in the gravy
- Worcestershire sauce - it's one of my go-to ingredients to add an extra savory layer
- Heavy cream - for a touch of luxuriousness to round it all off!
How to make smothered chicken
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cut the chicken in half lengthwise. Sprinkle both sides with salt & pepper. Combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a bowl, and measure out 2 tbsp and set aside. Dredge the chicken in the flour from the larger bowl, and pan fry in the olive oil until golden. I like using this cast iron skillet.
Transfer the chicken to a plate. In the skillet, melt the butter and cook the onions until golden brown and softened, giving them a stir every so often. Add the reserved seasoned flour and cook for a minute, constantly stirring. Stir in the chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce, and scrape up the brown bits.
Add in the cream, stir, and return the chicken to the pan. Cook until it's fully cooked through and the gravy has thickened. Season with salt & pepper and enjoy right away!
- The onions are just shy of being caramelized in this recipe, and slow and steady wins the race with this one! It's important to cook the onions low and slow so that they don't burn.
- I cut the onion in half, peel it, and then slice it into half rings vs. chopping/dicing it for this recipe.
- Check when chicken is done using an instant read meat thermometer. Chicken breasts especially can go from undercooked to overcooked in a hurry, so using a meat thermometer is an inexpensive way to have peace of mind.
- If using smaller chicken breasts, use 4 of them and cook for a bit longer.
Substitutions and variations
- The gravy isn't super spicy, but it does have a kick. It builds rather than hitting all at once. If you're someone who is sensitive to spice, just use less cayenne pepper. I recommend adding at least a small pinch, however.
- You can leave the cream out if need be, but I do prefer the sauce with it. It makes the gravy richer and cuts some of the heat. If omitting the cream, you may need to add more liquid and/or adjust cooking time.
- Chicken thighs may be subbed for the chicken breasts. I'd cook them for a little longer to ensure they're tender.
What to serve with smothered chicken
- Of course, dreamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes are what I recommend with this one! It's also great with my Roasted Red Potatoes or rice. Cornbread or biscuits would be an ideal pairing too.
- For veggie sides, try my Easy Roasted Green Beans or these Maple Roasted Beets and Carrots.
- Love chicken with noodles? Try it over these Quick and Easy Garlic Butter Noodles.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers of this chicken recipe will keep 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat slowly over a low heat in a covered saucepan for best results. If heated up again too quickly, the gravy could possibly separate.
- Leftovers can be frozen if needed. I'd suggest thawing in the fridge overnight before warming it up again.
Do you love cozy smothered chicken as much as I do? Have any questions? Talk to me in the comments below, or tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram!
- 2 large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper see note
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium-to-large onion sliced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
- Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so you have 4 thinner cutlets. Season each piece with salt & pepper on both sides.
- Add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper to a bowl and give it a good stir. Measure out 2 tablespoons of this seasoned flour and put it in a small bowl - you will use it later to thicken the gravy.
- Add the oil to a skillet over medium-high heat.
- While the pan heats up, add the flour from the larger bowl to a plate and then coat each piece of chicken it (you will have some leftover flour to discard).
- Add the chicken pieces to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes/side (golden but not quite fully cooked through). Transfer chicken to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the butter to the skillet. Once it's melted, add in the onions and cook until softened and golden (about 15-20 minutes. It'll depend how thin the onions are sliced and vary from skillet to skillet - I use cast iron). Stir every couple of minutes, and if the onions appear to be burning vs. slowly browning, turn the heat down.
- Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of flour into the pan. Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly.
- Add in the chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce and stir until the flour has dissolved and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, then stir in the cream.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through (165F) and the gravy has thickened a bit. You may need to increase the heat a bit to get it going again.
- Season with salt & pepper as needed and serve immediately.
- You can definitely sub chicken breasts for chicken thighs! You may need to cook them a bit longer to ensure they're nice and tender.
- This recipe has a bit of a kick. If you're sensitive to spice, you can use less cayenne pepper than indicated.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. Some of the flour dredge is discarded, so I used 1/4 cup flour in the nutrition calculation.