If you’re craving easy comfort food, look no further than this French Onion Chicken recipe. It’s a quick and simple weeknight meal that brings forth all the flavors of classic French onion soup but in a heartier, protein-focused version.
How to Make French Onion Chicken
This French onion chicken recipe is really simple to make. While it’s technically not a classic French dish, it does play off the techniques and flavors of French onion soup, which is one of my personal favorites.
When you’re making this dish, you want to be sure to use thin pieces of chicken breast so that the chicken not only cooks quickly, but evenly through the center too.
Most pieces of chicken breast sold at the store are quite plump, so what I like to do is cut the chicken straight through the center horizontally. This creates two equal chicken halves.
I find that cutting the chicken breast in half is much easier than trying to pound it out. Plus, it’s easier to fit in a pan and it’s a leaner meal by splitting each breast.
To season the chicken, I like to use Montreal Steak Seasoning. I know it’s “steak” seasoning, but I honestly use this seasoning on chicken and veggies all the time and it is wonderfully flavorful. If you use this seasoning, you won’t need to add any salt or pepper as the seasoning already has that.
If you don’t use the steak seasoning, you can alternatively just salt and pepper your chicken and add some Italian seasoning for the extra flavor.
Other than the chicken, the sauce for this dish is really just made up of beef broth and caramelized onions. Once the chicken has finished cooking in this sauce, it’s topped with some cheese and either covered with a lid or transferred to the oven to finish cooking and allow the cheese to melt.
Can you make French Onion Soup with chicken broth?
So this is a question I receive quite a bit when it comes to making French onion soup, and I anticipate that I will be asked this when it comes to making French onion chicken as well.
The answer is yes. Both chicken broth and beef broth will work for either recipe, but…and that’s a big but, don’t expect the soup or the sauce in this recipe to be as rich or quite as flavorful as beef broth.
It’s just a fact that beef broth is more rich and flavorful than chicken broth, and if you sub anything else, you’re just not going to get as wonderfully tasty of a dish as you would if you used beef broth.
In a pinch, however, feel free to use chicken broth. Whether I’m using chicken broth or beef broth, I like to use the lower sodium version. It’s always easier to add salt to a dish if you feel like it needs some than to try and take it away after it’s already been added.
French Onion Chicken Bake or Just Keep it on the Stove?
As I mentioned, you’ll want to finish the recipe off with some cheese added to the top of the chicken. After all, isn’t that the best part when you’re having the original French onion soup version?
With the soup, it’s classically poured into oven-safe bowls and transferred to the oven under the broiler to melt the cheese.
If you want to do the same method for this chicken, then you’ll obviously need to make sure you’re using an oven-safe sauté pan to begin with.
But for ease and convenience, I like to just place a lid over my sauté pan and allow the cheese to melt over the chicken as it finishes cooking. That way I don’t have to turn on the whole oven when it’s not actually necessary.
For the cheese topping, you have a variety of choices to choose from. You can go for a classic option like shredded gruyere, or you can use deli slices like I do for a quick and already portioned choice.
I’ll typically use one slice of ultra thin provolone, one slice of ultra thin swiss, and just a teaspoon of finely grated parmesan for a little salty kick. This helps keep the meal from being too indulgent while still delivering that cheesy flavor.
What to Serve French Onion Chicken With?
In my opinion, this French onion chicken recipe is best served with mashed potatoes. This isn’t to say that you can’t serve it with vegetables or French fries, but mashed potatoes are truly the perfect accompaniment here.
This is because one of the best parts about this recipe is the delicious gravy-like sauce that is created with the beef broth and the caramelized onions. That sauce just begs for something like mashed potatoes to soak it all up.
If you serve this recipe with mashed potatoes, you’ll be able to get a piece of cheesy chicken, scrumptious gravy, and creamy potatoes all in one bite. And let me tell you, it sure is one incredibly blissful bite!
Tips for Making French Onion Chicken
Here are some of the tips I’ve mentioned for making this French onion chicken recipe at home:
- Cut your chicken breasts in half horizontally to create two equal chicken halves. This will allow the chicken to cook more quickly and evenly.
- Use Montreal Steak seasoning to season your chicken.
- Be sure to use beef broth (reduced sodium if possible) for optimal flavor and authenticity.
- Use pre-cut deli slices of cheese, like provolone rounds and swiss slices, for ease and a healthier finish.
- Place a lid on your sauté pan to help melt the cheese rather than transfer the dish to the oven for greater ease and practicality.
- 2 thick chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally to create 4 thin chicken breast halves
- 1 large onion
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- Montreal steak seasoning (or salt, pepper, & optionally Italian seasoning)
- 1 cup reduced sodium beef broth
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 slices ultra thin provolone cheese
- 4 slices ultra thin swiss cheese
- about 1 1/2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 sprig thyme (optional), for garnish
- 4 small Russet potatoes or 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled, for mashed potatoes
- 1/4 cup whole milk or more, to taste, for mashed potatoes
- salt and pepper for mashed potatoes
- If making mashed potatoes, add the peeled potatoes to a large saucepan with boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium and let the potatoes simmer in the water while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Melt the unsalted butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. While the butter is melting, slice your onion into half moon slices, then add them to the pan with the butter. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the onion slices for 15 minutes, until they're caramelized.
- Meanwhile, prepare the chicken breasts. Sprinkle some Montreal steak seasoning over each chicken breast half, taking care to season both sides. Alternatively, season each side of chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Temporarily remove the onion slices from the pan, then give the pan a quick spray of cooking oil or a drizzle of olive oil. Arrange the chicken breasts in the pan over medium heat, taking care to do your best not to overlap them. Cook the breasts until they're golden and nicely seared, about 5 minutes, before flipping the breasts over and cooking the other side.
- Temporarily remove the chicken from the pan and add the onions back in. Add the flour to the onions and stir everything together for a minute.
- Pour a little bit of the beef broth in and use your spatula to scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Once you've cleaned up the bottom of the pan, pour in the rest of the broth and raise the heat to medium-high, until the broth is simmering.
- Once the beef broth is simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the chicken back into the pan, then cover each piece of chicken with 1 slice of provolone cheese, 1 slice of swiss cheese, and a sprinkle (about a teaspoon) of grated parmesan. Place the lid on the sauté pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
- When the potatoes are tender (meaning you can easily pierce them with a spoon), drain the water from the saucepan. Then add the milk to your potatoes and use a potato masher to mash and smooth out the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, then swap out the potato masher for a wooden spoon and stir the potatoes to mix in the salt and pepper well.
- Place a generous scoop of mashed potatoes on your plate, then place the cooked chicken breast on top with the sauce poured all over it. Garnish with some thyme leaves before serving.