Chicken Fricassee all made in one pot, loaded with succulent golden chicken and tender veggies swimming in a rich, creamy herb laced sauce!
Chicken fricassee is the original French comfort food and it is utterly divine. It may look fancy, but this complete meal-in-one is made with humble ingredients and bakes all in one pot for an easy dinner any night of the week. This chicken fricassee is made with juicy seasoned chicken that is browned, then slowly braised with carrots, celery, mushrooms, sweet pearl onions, and garlic in a decadent, velvety sauce infused with herbs. It’s a satisfying explosion of flavor and luxurious texture in every bite. And the best part is, you can customize the chicken fricassee to your family tastes with different veggies or spices. I’ve also included step-by-step photos, tips and tricks to make the best chicken fricassee of your life! Serve this scrumptious chicken fricassee recipe with creamy mashed potatoes, rice, quinoa or low carb cauliflower rice along with some crusty bread or garlic bread for a dreamy dinner that will shoot to the top of everyone’s favorite/must make/make often/make again NOW list!
One pot chicken dinners are always a win! Try out these favorites: one pot chicken Parmesan pasta, arroz con pollo, garlic herb chicken with scalloped potatoes, chicken Florentine, Tuscan chicken, salsa chicken and rice, honey mustard chicken with green beans and potatoes.
Chicken Fricassee Recipe
Need a one pot wonder delicious enough for company (Christmas!) but easy enough for everyday? – enter chicken fricassee! You guys, I am IN LOVE with this recipe. I really like all of my recipes, but this one is special. It combines the comfort of rustic cooking with the classiness of a creamy, herb laced sauce. It is simple yet layered with so many flavors from the seasoned chicken, to the aromatic onions and garlic, to the hearty vegetables, to the silky cream sauce. In short, it’s a one-pot masterpiece you need in your repertoire.
What I especially love about this chicken fricassee recipe is that it uses every day, pantry friendly ingredients – you probably have most of the ingredients right now! You will be blown away at how the humble ingredients transform into something truly spectacular.
While this chicken fricassee is not a 30-minute meal, it is easy! Dredge the chicken, sear the chicken, sauté the vegetables then bake in the mesmerizing silky, creamy, sauce with a punch of intoxicating flavor. Most of the time is hands-off baking and any hands-on time is worth every second.
What is Fricassee?
Fricassee is a French cooking method in which meat is browned in butter then braised in a sauce made from its own juices and then thickened with heavy cream or egg yolks – with everything cooking in a single pot. Fricassee recipes typically use chicken, veal, or rabbit. It is somewhere between a sauté due to sautéing the vegetables and a stew due to the rich sauce, but not quite as soupy.
This Chicken Fricassee is a stew of sorts that’s flavored with broth, herbs, and butter and thickened with heavy cream. I used chicken thighs and drumsticks in this recipe because they’re so much easier to find than veal or rabbit and universally appealing. Chicken fricassee looks impressive, but it’s secretly so easy to make!
What does Fricassee mean?
Fricassée” is a French term derived from frire, meaning “to fry” and casser, meaning “to break into pieces.” The European classical fricassée a l’ancienne earns its name because the chicken is first browned in butter/oil (“fried”) before adding the vegetables and braising liquid. It is then cooked until extremely tender and the chicken essentially “breaks into pieces.”
Where does Chicken Fricassee come from?
Chicken fricassee dates as far back as the 1300s! It is referenced in an early version of the medieval French cookbook Le Viandier and later in 1490, it is specifically called “friquassee” in the printed version.
Julia Child popularized chicken fricassee in America with her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Early fricassees were thickened solely with egg yolks but have been replaced in English and American cuisines by either flour or heavy cream and egg yolks. In this recipe, I’ve stuck with heavy cream which is more forgiving and allows you to control the consistency better through simmering.
WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST FOR Chicken Fricassee?
Chicken fricassee can be made with one whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 11 pieces (reserve back and wing tips for another use, such as stock) or to keep things simple, I’ve used bone-in chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks.
Chicken thighs and drumsticks emerge crazy tender and juicy. I like to use 4 bone-in chicken thighs and 4 chicken drumsticks, but you can use all chicken thighs or all drumsticks. If you use all drumsticks, you will want to use more because they are smaller than thighs – just whatever fits into your pot!
Skin on or off?
Traditional chicken fricassee is cooked with the skin on but I prefer to remove the skin from my chicken because the skin does not stay crispy – and I’m not a fan of soggy skin (abhor it actually). To make the skinless chicken just as juicy as skin-on chicken, it is lightly dusted in a flour/spice coating that creates an enveloping, deeply golden, deeply flavorful crust and the chicken stays delightfully juicy and tender.
That being said, you can absolutely leave the skin on your chicken if you prefer. You will want to sear the chicken for a decent amount of time to render the fat, otherwise you will be left with extra greasy sauce.
CAN I USE CHICKEN BREASTS?
You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but they will not be as juicy. If you choose to use chicken breasts, then you will want to use small chicken breasts or chicken fillets/large chicken breasts cut in half through the equator so they will cook in the allotted time. Cooking times will vary, so keep your meat thermometer handy and don’t overcook the breasts or they won’t be as juicy.
If you choose to use chicken breasts, I highly recommend brining them first. Brining will increase their moisture capacity and render them much more tender.
To brine your chicken breasts, mix 4 cups warm water with ¼ cup KOSHER salt in a shallow glass dish or freezer bag. Stir until the salt dissolves. Add chicken and let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes – NO longer! Remove chicken from the brine, rinse in cold water and pat dry.
Chicken Fricassee Ingredients
Now that we’ve tackled the chicken, let’s move onto the rest of the ingredients. Chicken fricassee comes together with minimal ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need for this easy chicken dinner:
- Olive oil: Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Chicken: I recommend both chicken thighs and drumsticks for this recipe but you may use all one or the other.
- Butter: The onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms are sautéed in both butter and olive oil for extra flavor.
- Carrots: Cut on the thicker side, about ¾-inch so they don’t turn to mush.
- Celery: Same as carrots, cut on the thicker side, about ¾-inch so they don’t become mushy.
- Mushrooms: I don’t love mushrooms, but I love mushrooms in this chicken fricassee! I recommend white mushrooms for their mild earthy flavor so they don’t overpower the sauce. Cut the mushrooms into quarters or extra small mushrooms in half.
- Onions: Pearl onions add pops of juicy sweetness. You may substitute with one chopped white onion – but it’s not the same!
- Garlic: Flavors the chicken dish without overpowering it.
- Thyme: Fresh is best! Use just the leaves, not the whole stem.
- Flour: I used all-purpose flour, but I bet a gluten-free 1:1 substitute would work too.
- Chicken broth: Is more flavorful than just cream or water. Use low sodium so we can control the salt.
- Heavy cream: Is called “heavy whipping cream” at your grocery store. It creates luscious body that clings to the tender golden chicken.
- Lemon juice: Just a splash of lemon juice awakens the entire dish. Use more or less as desired.
Can I Use White Wine?
I don’t drink wine so I omitted it and I was still blown away at how I wanted to guzzle the sauce straight from the skillet. I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all. That being said, if you would like to add wine, feel free to!
You can add 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc to the pan after you’ve added the flour to the vegetables and cooked. Add the wine and simmer until slightly reduced, then continue with the recipe.
Can I Substitute the Heavy Cream?
If you’re trying to save some calories, you can substitute the heavy cream with 1/2 cup milk whisked with 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch. Just take care not to let the sauce boil, just gently simmer. You may also substitute evaporated milk whisked with 1 teaspoon cornstarch. When making substitutions, alter your expectations. Heavy cream will always be more flavorful and creamy.
How do I quickly remove thyme leaves?
Fresh thyme leaves can be removed in seconds with this easy technique! Simply push the end of the thyme stem through a hole of a fine mesh strainer and carefully but forcefully pull the stem through. The leaves will collect in the strainer – easy peasy!
Can I use dried thyme?
You may substitute the fresh thyme with ½ teaspoon dried thyme. Add dried thyme to the sauce with the other dried herbs before the chicken fricassee goes in the oven.
What if I don’t like mushrooms?
If you do not like mushrooms, simply leave them out or swap them for another vegetable.
Can I make it gluten free?
To make gluten-free chicken fricassee, simply swap the flour with gluten free flour. The rest of the ingredients are gluten free.
What other Vegetables can I put in Chicken Fricassee?
You can add almost any vegetables to chicken fricassee. Carrots, mushrooms and celery are phenomenal together but you can also swap in butternut squash, parsnips, green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower, just to name a few.
WHAT POT DO I NEED FOR Chicken Fricassee?
I use a 3 ½ quart cast-iron enamel braiser that measures 11 1/2″ in diameter by 2 1/2″ high. You will want to use a similar oven proof dish/skillet with a tight-fitting lid.
If you don’t have an oven proof skillet, you can transfer the chicken and sauce to an oven safe baking dish, just be aware baking times will vary. If you don’t have a lid, cover your oven proof dish tightly with foil. If your seal isn’t tight, then heat and liquid will escape.
How to Make Chicken Fricassee
This meal is so simple to make, yet it’s special enough to prepare for guests. Win-win! To make this homemade chicken fricassee recipe, follow these easy steps:
- Season the chicken: The seasoned flour coating not only insulates the chicken and keeps it more moist and tender inside but it also creates crust to carry flavor. To create the crust, mix the flour in a shallow dish with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder. Pat chicken dry (so the flour will stick) then dredge each piece in the mixture, pressing the flour into the chicken. Shake off any excess flour, then transfer the chicken to a dry surface (reserve any leftover flour). You don’t want to return the chicken to the same surface (unless you wipe it with paper towels) because the moisture left behind from the chicken will make the coating wet and fall off.
- Brown the chicken: Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet and brown the seasoned chicken on both sides. You’re not looking to cook it all the way through, it just needs some color from the Maillard reaction, because color – equals flavor! Once browned, transfer chicken to a plate but leave whatever drippings behind. These deeply flavorful drippings will add an extra oomph of flavor to the veggies and the entire dish.
- Sauté veggies: In the same skillet the chicken cooked in, add the butter and sauté the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Add a drizzle of olive oil if the vegetables become too dry. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. The red pepper flakes won’t make the dish spicy, just awaken the dish a bit.
- Make sauce: Now we’re going to add the flour to create a roux which will thicken the sauce. You’ll want 3 tablespoons flour total so use the remaining flour from dredging chicken plus fresh flour as needed to equal 3 tablespoons. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and slowly pour in the chicken broth while stirring and scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the chicken: Return chicken to the pan along with any juices that have accumulated don the plate – these are flavor gold! Bring to a simmer, cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes, until the chicken reaches 170 degrees F.
- Make it creamy: Once chicken is cooked through, transfer the chicken from the pot to a plate. Stir in heavy cream, freshy thyme and fresh parsley. Simmer until reduced to desired consistency, 5-10 minutes.
- Adjust to taste. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. I add about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper – but make sure you taste your first! It’s better to add less than too much!
WHAT TEMPERATURE DO YOU COOK dark CHICKEN meat?
Chicken is safe to eat when its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F – the temperature recommended for chicken breast so they don’t dry out.
Dark chicken meat such as chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks used in this recipe are juicer and more tender when cooked to 170-175 degrees. F. Chicken thighs contain more connective tissue than chicken breasts which takes longer to break down. Cooking them to a higher temperature will ensure that the dark meat becomes even more tender and juicy verses chewy and rubbery.
I highly recommend investing in a meat thermometer otherwise there is no accurate way to check and see when your chicken is cooked without slicing it open and loosing valuable juices.
CAN I EAT CHICKEN WHEN IT’S PINK?
Chicken that is pink inside and clearly raw, should not be eaten BUT if you’ve tested your chicken thighs with your meat thermometer and it registers above 165 degrees, it is safe to eat, even if it looks slightly pink. The chicken should still look cooked and have the texture of cooked chicken.
Cooked chicken can still have a pink tint because young chickens (often what we purchase) have porous bones through which bone marrow can permeate, staining the adjacent meat regardless of the final internal temperature of the cooked chicken.
Myoglobin is another reason cooked chicken can sometimes look pink and the reason behind the term “dark meat.” Myoglobin is a pigmented protein that delivers oxygen to cells, the more active the part of the bird, the more myoglobin it receives. Breast meat is white because it is inactive and therefore contains low levels of myoglobin; chicken legs, wings and thighs, are “dark meat” because they contain higher levels of myoglobin because they are more active. Myoglobin can make dark meat appear pinkish when cooked because it can pool in the meat fibers when packaged.
Bottom line – be safe and use a meat thermometer and cook chicken breasts to 165 degrees F and dark meat to 170 -175 degrees F.
Tips for the Best Chicken Fricassee
This chicken fricassee is pretty straightforward, but here are some helpful tips and tricks for the BEST chicken fricassee every time.
- Use both butter and olive oil. I almost always use a combination of butter and oil whether it’s for making a roux or for pan frying chicken. The butter adds the undeniably scrumptious buttery flavor and the oil prevents the butter from burning. You may use all oil but you cannot use all butter or the butter will burn. I recommend using both for best results.
- Scrape up golden bits. After you cook the chicken, there will be golden bits on the bottom of the pan – these are flavor gold! Make sure to scrape up the bits while you sauté the veggies.
- Don’t burn chicken drippings. If your chicken drippings are turning dark too quickly, reduce the heat while searing the chicken. You want deeply golden chicken drippings. If the bits have turned black – you don’t want them! They will make your entire chicken fricassee taste burnt.
- Use a hot pan. Add your chicken only once the pan is hot – you should hear the chicken sizzle the second it touches the pan. If you add chicken to a lukewarm pan it will not sear, and as we all know from Gordon Ramsey, color = flavor. Searing the chicken results in the Maillard reaction, also known as the flavor reaction, in which amino acids and reducing sugars produce browning and complex flavor. Note that hot doesn’t mean high heat, but it means it’s reached full temperature.
- Only flip chicken once. Adding the chicken to a hot pan is only half the battle. Resist the urge to move the chicken as it cooks or to flip it more than once. The chicken needs to stay in the same place for a continuous amount of time to brown. When the chicken is browned, it will naturally release from the pan.
- Add additional oil to veggies. The vegetables will be sautéed for about 10 minutes. If they drink up all of the oil while cooking, feel free to drizzle some more in – it will add additional flavor.
- Don’t overcook chicken. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are more forgiving than chicken breasts, but you still don’t want to overcook them. The best and most efficient way to check for doneness is to insert a meat thermometer into the chicken; chicken thighs and drumsticks are juiciest when they register 170 degrees F (as opposed to 165 for chicken breasts).
Recipe Variations to Try
- Heavy cream substitute. You can swap the heavy cream for evaporated milk mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Just remember that fat equals flavor so the cream sauce won’t taste quite as decadent.
- Heavy cream + eggs. Some chicken fricassee recipes thicken the sauce by mixing heavy cream with 2 egg yolks, tempering the mixture with some of the sauce then stirring it back into the pot and skipping the final simmer. I don’t prefer this method because you can’t control the consistency by simmering to desired consistency.
- Sour cream. You can skip the heavy cream and thicken the sauce with sour cream instead – just think beef stroganoff! Sour cream is often used in Cajun chicken fricassee.
- Add more lemon. You can add up to 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the cream sauce for more of a lemon forward sauce.
- Use cremini mushrooms. If you’re a mushroom lover and want more of a mushroom flavored sauce, swap the milder white mushrooms for cremini mushrooms.
- Swap vegetables. You can use your favorite vegetables such as butternut squash, zucchini, bell peppers, parsnips, spinach etc. If using quick cooking vegetables such as zucchini or bell peppers, don’t cook them as long as the carrots/celery. You can also stir in spinach at the end of cooking or even try adding canned artichokes (packed in water, not brine).
- Add tarragon. Swap the fresh parsley for 2 teaspoons minced tarragon.
- Spice it up. Amp up the heat with additional red pepper flakes.
- Cajun chicken fricassee. This is a popular version of chicken fricassee which uses Cajun spices and swaps the carrots for bell peppers. You can also add sliced sausage as well.
- Just use the sauce! The sauce can be used over eggs, green beans, pasta, potatoes, etc.
Can I Prep Chicken Fricassee in Advance?
This chicken fricassee recipe does require some prep work, most of which can be done ahead of time. Here’s how:
- Chicken: Remove the skin from the chicken, dredge chicken in flour mixture and sear per recipe instructions. Transfer to an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Save the chicken drippings.
- Veggies: Chop all of the vegetables and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also go one step further and sauté the veggies if you wish.
- Sauce: You can prepare the recipe all the way up through making the sauce before adding the chicken back to the pan. Store sauce (with veggies) and chicken separately. When ready to continue with the recipe, bring to a simmer, then add the chicken and pop in the oven.
How to Store and Reheat Chicken Fricassee
- Storage: This chicken dinner should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for three to five days.
- Microwave: Chop up chicken so it reheats more evenly, then transfer a small portion to a microwave safe dish. Heat for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals.
- Stove: Chop up chicken, then transfer to a skillet. Heat over medium heat, stirring often.
Can I Freeze Chicken Fricassee?
Technically yes, but the sauce may split once frozen due to the heavy cream. If you know you will be freezing the chicken fricassee, then omit the heavy cream or replace it with evaporated milk. To freeze this easy chicken dinner, let it cool completely, then seal the chicken and sauce in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, place in the fridge overnight to thaw before reheating.
What to Serve with Chicken Fricassee?
This saucy chicken fricassee is begging to be served over carbs to soak up the luscious sauce. We love it over:
- A bed of buttery mashed potatoes – my favorite way to serve it!
- Pasta, such as spaghetti, cavatappi penne, campanelle, fusilli, etc.
- Stuffed pastas such as ravioli or tortellini – yum!
- Rice – any kind!
- Low-carb alternative such as cauliflower mashed “potatoes,” cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash
Now that the chicken fricassee is squared away, let’s talk sides. We love adding a fresh salad like wedge Salad, strawberry salad, or spinach Berry Salad in the spring/summer and apple salad, pear salad or beet salad in the Winter.
Lastly, bread is a must to ensure no sauce is left behind. You can serve this dish with a simple side of crusty bread, or we’re obsessed with my Garlic Bread, Dinner Rolls, or Garlic Parmesan Butter Breadsticks.
Looking for More Easy Chicken Dinners?
- Honey Dijon Chicken
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Chicken in Creamy Mushroom Sauce
- Oven Fried Chicken
- Salsa Verde Chicken Rice Bake
- Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Cajun Honey Mustard Chicken
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