Juicy chicken breasts absolutely smothered in saucy caramelized onions and loads of gooey cheese! Easy to prep ahead, and a great family dinner option when you just can’t handle another boring meal.
FRENCH ONION BAKED CHICKEN
It’s no secret that I love comfort food, and french onion flavor is one of my all-time favorites. A few years back I combined french onion flavor with pork chops and it’s been a reader-favorite ever since!
The French Onion Smothered Pork Chop recipe doesn’t use traditional caramelized onions, and I knew I wanted to share a recipe that would use true caramelized onions, in all their jammy goodness!
Enticingly sweet and savory, this baked chicken recipe is absolutely amazing and so easy to make. The onions take a long time to cook, but they can be prepared days ahead of time.
HOW TO MAKE FRENCH ONION BAKED CHICKEN
- Caramelize the onions.
- Add part of the onions and beef broth to baking dish.
- Top with chicken breasts (raw).
- Top with remaining onions and cheese.
In terms of steps, it’s very simple! The hardest part is caramelizing the onions, and that’s really just a test of your patience.
COOKING TIPS FOR FRENCH ONION CHICKEN
- Don’t salt the onions – if you add salt right away to the onions, they’ll release their liquids too early and won’t caramelize properly.
- Be patient – I know, it’s hard for me too. Caramelized onions take time, plain and simple. There’s no secret way to instantly get gloriously brown and jammy onions. Trust me, it’s SO worth the wait! If you’re looking for a great visual representation of the stages of caramelizing onions, this is a great resource!
- Shred your own cheeses – it’s the best way to get amazingly gooey cheese.
- Get some crusty bread – there will be plenty of saucy onion broth after the chicken cooks, and there’s nothing better than soaking it up with amazing bread! We love this easy no-knead artisan bread.
VARIATIONS OF FRENCH ONION BAKED CHICKEN
- One Pan – if you have an oven-safe skillet, you can make this dish entirely in one pan! See the recipe notes section below (after the written recipe) for details.
- Seared – if you prefer, you can sear the chicken breasts before or after cooking the onions. This adds extra flavor, but isn’t necessary.
- Other protein – this recipe is fantastic with pork chops or even steak!
MAKING BAKED CHICKEN AHEAD OF TIME
I think this baked chicken recipe tastes best when made fresh, however, you can prep a couple things ahead of time to make the cooking time considerably shorter.
- Trim chicken breasts of any extra fat and keep refrigerated in an airtight container.
- Caramelize onions and garlic and keep refrigerated in an airtight container.
- Combine salt, pepper, thyme and garlic powder and keep on the counter in an airtight container.
This will cut your cook time in half, since the onions are already done!
STORING FRENCH ONION CHICKEN
Leftovers should be refrigerated and consumed within 2-3 days for best flavor.
Leftover caramelized onions should be refrigerated and consumed within 1-4 days. They can also be frozen, for up to 2 months.
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- 3 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4-5 large yellow or white onions peeled, sliced in half then cut into thin half moon shapes
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (or red wine or sherry)
- 2/3 cup reduced sodium beef broth divided
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella or gruyere
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan (fresh is best)
- Heat a large skillet over MED/MED-HIGH heat. Add butter and olive oil and sliced onions. Season with 1/4 tsp pepper. Add thyme sprigs and cook 8 minutes, stirring very occasionally.
- While onions are cooking, preheat oven to 400 F degrees and butter a 9x13" baking dish. Set aside.
- After 8 minutes, reduce the heat on the pan of onions down to MED/MED-LOW, and cook another 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in garlic, cook 1 minute. Stir in balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup of the beef broth. Stir and cook another minute or so, until onion mixture is thick and jam-like in consistency.
- Add about a 1/2 cup of the caramelized onions to the prepared baking dish and add the remaining 1/3 cup beef broth to the dish. Stir.
- Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt, black pepper, dried thyme and garlic powder. Arrange chicken in prepared baking dish and top each breast with a generous spoonful of caramelized onions.
- Top chicken and onions with mozzarella and parmesan.
- Bake 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 F degrees.
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- Caramelized onions can be made 1-3 days ahead and kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
ONE PAN VERSIONYou will need an oven-safe skillet for this version (such as cast iron)
- Complete steps 1 - 4. Transfer all but 1/2 cup of the onions to a plate.
- Add remaining 1/3 beef broth to the skillet.
- Arrange seasoned chicken breasts on top of the onions in the skillet.
- Top with caramelized onions and cheese.
- Bake as directed, in skillet.