Smothered Chicken Legs

published Aug 18, 2021
Smothered Chicken Recipe

This easy smothered chicken recipe starts with a rich seasoning and finishes in a decadent onion gravy.


Prep10 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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smothered chicken on a plate with utensils next to it, a glass of beer and the pan next to it
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Styling: Kristina Vanni

Tender chicken blanketed in a rich onion gravy is the comforting, one-pot meal we dream about. This recipe begins on the stovetop and finishes up in the oven in under an hour. It also calls for chicken leg quarters (i.e., where the most flavor is!). Of course, an equal weight of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or thighs could also be used.

Start seasoning flour with onion powder and smoked paprika to dredge the chicken. Sear the chicken and then use the drippings (and all their chicken fat glory) to prepare a simple gravy made with sliced onions, garlic, and fresh thyme. Nestle the chicken back into the pan and cook it to perfection in the oven.

Tips for Cooking Gravy to the Right Consistency

The perfect gravy should be rich and velvety without being too thick or greasy.

  • When making gravy, be sure to allow the flour to cook for about a minute before adding the liquid. This will not only result in more depth of flavor, but it also allows the raw taste of the flour to cook out.
  • Slowly whisk in the broth and allow it to incorporate before adding more. Don’t worry if the mixture seizes up and looks clumpy at first — it will smooth out as more liquid is added.
  • Watch the mixture carefully and continue to gradually add liquid (or hold back) depending on how thick you like your gravy.
  • Remember that the gravy will continue to cook with the chicken in the oven, so it’s a little bit on the thinner side when it goes in and that’s OK.

Can You Cook Raw Chicken in Gravy?

For optimal flavor, it is best to first sear chicken to create a delicious crust on the outside. However, the chicken doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through at this time. You can continue to cook chicken in gravy until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165ºF.

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Styling: Kristina Vanni

What Sides Go Well with Smothered Chicken?

Smothered chicken can be made into a hearty family meal with the addition of your favorite sides. Try roasted or steamed vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, or green beans. A crisp side salad can also provide a fresh contrast to the luscious chicken. It also tastes great with mashed potatoes topped with some of the onion gravy from the pan. You also can’t go wrong with warm, crusty bread to sop up all those delicious juices.

Smothered Chicken Recipe

This easy smothered chicken recipe starts with a rich seasoning and finishes in a decadent onion gravy.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons

    smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon

    onion powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 4

    whole chicken legs (about 3 1/2 pounds total)

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 2

    large yellow onions

  • 2 cloves


  • 2 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 8 large sprigs

    fresh thyme


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper in a shallow dish and stir to combine. Pat 4 chicken legs dry with paper towels. Dredge in the flour mixture, turning to coat on all sides. Shake off the excess and place on a plate; reserve the remaining flour mixture.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and sear until golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, thinly slice 2 large yellow onions (about 3 cups) and finely chop 2 garlic cloves.

  3. When the chicken is ready, return to the plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden-brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  4. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir to combine. Slowly whisk in the 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth about 1/4 cup at a time. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Return the chicken to the skillet skin-side up, nestling each piece into the onion gravy mixture; pour in any accumulated juices on the plate. Tuck 8 large fresh thyme sprigs between the chicken, nestling them into the onion gravy.

  5. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the the chicken is cooked through and registers an internal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Using chicken thighs: 3 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs can be used in place of the whole chicken legs. Reduce the baking time to about 20 minutes.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.