Skillet Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Thighs

published Jan 9, 2023
Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Thighs Recipe

The key to burnished, golden chicken thighs? Strawberry jam.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook50 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes

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Overhead photo of strawberry balsamic skillet chicken thighs in cast iron skillet
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

One of summer’s greatest (and most overlooked) flavor combinations is balsamic and strawberries. Pair them together in salads, flatbreads, or desserts and watch them bring out the best qualities of each other. But during the colder months, when strawberries are a mere shell of their former, peak-season selves, this flavor combination is lost — but not with this recipe. These sweet and savory chicken thighs utilize that same winning flavor combination but swap out fresh strawberries for strawberry preserves, allowing you to enjoy the beloved flavor combination all year long. It’s a comforting, one-pan chicken dinner bursting with juicy, tart flavors that will warm up even the coldest winter nights.

The Key to Burnished, Golden Chicken Thighs? Strawberry Jam.

Strawberry preserves are naturally high in sugar, making them an ideal pairing to tame the acidic bite of balsamic vinegar. This characteristic also makes them perfect for brushing onto chicken skin to create a perfectly burnished glaze that provides a stunning contrast to the savory chicken.

When picking out which strawberry preserve to use in this recipe, I suggest staying away from the sugar-free varieties. I also suggest trying to find a preserve that isn’t too chunky. Some texture is fine, but you don’t want full pieces of strawberries in the glaze.

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

Tips for Making Perfectly Glossy, Charred Chicken Thighs

Before you head into the kitchen to roast these chicken thighs, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Weigh the thighs down while searing. Before these chicken thighs get roasted, they get a quick sear in a hot pan to help the skin get a head-start on becoming crisp and golden. To help promote even browning and prevent the chicken thighs from curling, I suggest weighing the thighs down as they sear with the bottom of a clean pan, heavy plate, or meat weight. This will help achieve crisper, more evenly cooked chicken thighs.
  2. Don’t touch them. Another tip for searing the chicken thighs is to leave them alone. It might be tempting to flip, rotate, and check on the thighs, but you must be patient. Only after the first few minutes should you start checking them for doneness. If you try to check the thighs too early, the skin might stick to the pan and rip as you try to move them.
  3. Glaze them and bake them in a hot oven. The last (and most impactful) step to achieving that perfectly burnished, glossy skin is to glaze the chicken thighs in additional strawberry jam before baking them in a 400°F oven. The high heat combined with the sugar in the jam results in a perfectly caramelized crust.

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Thighs Recipe

The key to burnished, golden chicken thighs? Strawberry jam.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 6

    garlic cloves

  • 1/2 bunch

    fresh rosemary

  • 1 bunch

    fresh thyme

  • 3/4 cup

    balsamic vinegar

  • 1 cup

    strawberry jam (about 12 ounces), divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    Dijon mustard

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 3 pounds

    bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (5 to 6 medium)

  • 1

    medium red onion

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    small or baby red potatoes

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

Instructions

  1. Mince 6 garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon.) Pick the leaves from 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary and finely chop until you have 2 tablespoons; reserve a few sprigs for topping. Pick the leaves from 1 bunch fresh thyme and finely chop until you have 2 tablespoons; reserve a few sprigs for topping.

  2. Place half of the garlic and half of both herbs into a large zip-top bag. Add 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup of the strawberry jam, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of the black pepper, and 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.

  3. Seal the bag and massage the bag to mix the marinade with the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Meanwhile, place the remaining garlic, rosemary, thyme, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl.

  4. About 20 minutes before the chicken is done marinating, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Thickly slice 1 medium red onion (about 1 cup). Cut 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes in half or quarter if large (about 3 cups) and place in the bowl with the chopped herbs and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and toss to coat the potatoes.

  5. Remove the chicken from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the marinade. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-inch or larger cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 3 of the chicken thighs skin-side down; weight them down with the bottom of a clean second skillet, heavy plate, or steak weight. (If you don’t have anything to press the thighs down with, you can cook them uncovered.)

  6. Cook, removing the weight and checking the skin for color every few minutes, until the skin is deep golden-brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate skin-side up and repeat browning the remaining chicken; place all the chicken on the plate.

  7. Reduce the heat to medium and add the red onion to the pan. Cook, stirring often, just until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the chicken. Add the potatoes to the pan and do your best to arrange them in a single layer cut-side down. Cook until the bottoms are browned and release easily from the pan, 6 to 10 minutes. (The potatoes won’t be fully cooked at this point.)

  8. Turn the heat off. Return the onion to the pan and toss with the potatoes; arrange into an even layer. Place the chicken skin-side up on the potatoes. Microwave the remaining 1/4 cup strawberry jam in a small microwave-safe bowl on HIGH until it loosens slightly, 10 to 20 seconds. Brush the chicken with the jam. Add a few torn sprigs of rosemary and thyme to the skillet.

  9. Bake until the potatoes are fork tender and the chicken is cooked through and registers at least 165ºF in the thickest part not touching bone, 40 to 45 minutes. If at any point the chicken starts to get too dark before it is done cooking, loosely tent the skillet with aluminum foil. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Jam: Any berry jam can be used in place of the strawberry jam.

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