Oven-Baked Smothered Chicken: Tender, Flavorful Comfort Food

Ingredients

To make delicious smothered chicken in the oven, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Chicken pieces – Use bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces like breasts, thighs, drumsticks or a combination. Bone-in chicken stays juicier.
  • Seasoning blend – A flavorful spice mix is key. A classic blend contains salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne and dried herbs like thyme or oregano.
  • Flour or cornstarch – Dredging the seasoned chicken in flour or cornstarch helps create a crispy crust and thickens the pan gravy.
  • Cooking oil or butter – Browning the chicken in oil or butter kickstarts the flavor development and renders some of the fat.
  • Aromatics – Onions, garlic and celery form the flavor base of the dish. Slice them thinly so they break down into the gravy.
  • Liquid – Chicken broth, cream or a combination creates the smothered gravy. The browned bits from searing add tons of flavor.
  • Optional add-ins – Mushrooms, bacon, herbs or other vegetables can be added for extra flavor and texture.
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Preparation

  • Preheat your oven to the proper temperature, usually between 350-400°F (175-205°C).
  • Season the chicken pieces generously with the spice blend, making sure to get under the skin as well.
  • Dredge the seasoned chicken in flour or cornstarch until well coated. Shake off any excess.
  • Heat oil or butter in a large oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides until golden, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
  • In the same skillet, sauté the sliced onions, garlic and celery in the rendered chicken fat until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with chicken broth, cream or a mix, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Bring to a simmer.
  • Return the browned chicken pieces to the skillet, nestling them into the simmering liquid. Spoon some of the sauce over the top of each piece.

Baking

  • Transfer the skillet with the chicken and sauce to the preheated oven.
  • Bake uncovered until the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Cooking time will vary based on the cut:
  • Breasts: 25-30 minutes
  • Thighs/Legs: 35-45 minutes
  • Spoon the pan sauce over the chicken periodically while it bakes to keep it moist and infuse flavor.
  • If using, add optional ingredients like mushrooms or crumbled bacon in the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Serving Suggestions

  • Remove the skillet from the oven and let the smothered chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute.
  • Spoon the rich, creamy pan gravy over the chicken to smother it. The flour from dredging will have thickened the sauce beautifully.
  • Serve the smothered chicken over mashed potatoes, rice or egg noodles to soak up the gravy.
  • Pair with a simple vegetable side dish like steamed green beans, honey glazed carrots or a crisp salad to round out the meal.

Smothered chicken is classic Southern comfort food at its finest. By seasoning well, searing until browned, then baking in a creamy sauce, you create incredibly flavorful and tender chicken. The oven-baked method is more hands-off than a fully stovetop approach, but still develops all those rich, deep flavors that make smothered chicken so satisfying. Give this method a try next time you’re craving a hearty, soulful chicken dinner that’s sure to impress.