How to Make Smothered Chicken

Updated: Sep. 26, 2023

Who can resist a generous helping of smothered chicken? This is comfort food at its finest.

For many, home tastes like a plate of smothered chicken with all the sides. This meal, besides being wonderfully decadent and delicious, is an essential part of the soul food recipes canon.

We have generations of talented Black chefs and cooks to thank for this cuisine. Soul food was borne of the ingenuity and skill of enslaved peoples brought to the United States from across Africa. Despite finding themselves in unforgiving surroundings with unfamiliar ingredients, these folks took inspiration from their own heirloom recipes and blended it with what foods were available.

Smothered Chicken Recipe

This recipe makes four servings.

Ingredients

Smothered Chicken IngredientsTMB STUDIO

For the chicken:

  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

For the gravy:

  • 2-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half

Directions

Step 1: Coat the chicken

Coating the ChickenTMB STUDIO

In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Reserve 4 tablespoons of this mixture for the gravy.

Coat the chicken a piece or two at a time in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess.

Step 2: Brown the chicken

Next, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. For this recipe, our Test Kitchen recommends canola oil, but you can also use these other oils with a high smoke point.

Once the oil is hot, add the chicken to the pan and brown on both sides. Once browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.

Step 3: Make the gravy

Whisking the gravy in pan TMB STUDIO

Reserve 3 tablespoons of the drippings from the pan (you can discard the rest). This will form the base of the gravy.

In the pan, whisk together the drippings and reserved flour mixture until blended. Then gradually whisk in the broth and bouillon. As you stir, loosen up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. These bits are called fond and are full of flavor that will make your gravy taste ultra-rich.

Whisk in the seasonings and Worcestershire sauce.

Step 4: Finish cooking the chicken

stiring in the half-and-half to chicken gravy TMB STUDIO

Next, return the chicken to the pan and heat until the gravy begins to boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 13 to 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the chicken reads 165ºF.

The last step is to stir in the half-and-half to make the sauce velvety. All that’s left is to serve! Don’t feel like cooking? Visit these soul food restaurants to soothe your soul.

Smothered Chicken FAQs

Cooked smothered chicken in panTMB STUDIO

How do you thicken (or thin) gravy?

If you find that your gravy isn’t quite as thick as you’d like, you can add flour or cornstarch to give it more body. Thicken gravy with cornstarch by combining the starch with a bit of water. Then whisk in this slurry. You can thicken gravy by whisking in flour on its own. Be sure to whisk well to break up any lumps.

If the gravy is too thick, add a splash of broth. This will help loosen the sauce up.

And if you encounter any other issues, here are all our best ways to fix gravy.

What should you serve with smothered chicken?

You’ll definitely want to enjoy plenty of the creamy gravy that accompanies this chicken. To make the most of it, serve smothered chicken over a bed of rice or mashed potatoes. You can also serve smothered chicken with biscuits—be sure to sop up every bit of that sauce!

Complete the meal with some green veggies like broccoli, green beans or collard greens.

Can you use other cuts of chicken?

You can certainly use other cuts of chicken to make this recipe. Bone-in chicken breasts or drumsticks could also be used. You could even opt for boneless chicken thighs or breasts.

When you opt for a different cut of chicken, cooking times will vary. Be sure to cook until the internal temperature hits 165ºF.

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