Skillet Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Lemon, Oregano, Garlic, and White Wine

How do you survive your dinner prep?

Vertical image of a cast iron filled with cooked meat covered in slices of citrus next to serving spoons, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I’m in a virtual cooking club with two friends who live in Wisconsin. Sometimes it’s just the thing to inspire a little creative deliciousness in the kitchen, like this recipe that I’m sharing with you today for flavorful bone-in skin-on chicken thighs with thinly sliced caramelized lemon, aromatics, and fresh herbs, in a delicious pan sauce.

No, we don’t video chat once a month, prepare the same dish, and pretend to sample each other’s masterpieces via FaceTime or Zoom.

We simply exchange general culinary advice, recipe ideas, and whatever inner queries come to mind while perusing the internet for daily meal inspiration.

Well, that and photos of whatever whiskey we’re sipping as we chop, slice, and saute in each of our personal kitchens.

A recent question from the newest member of our grub gang inspired this dish. Jon asked, “Are chicken thighs higher in fat, and is that why they taste better?”

Vertical image of a white plate with cooked pieces of meat covered in thin slices of lemon next to herbs, a sliver spoon, and a yellow towel.

As Alli and I (the club’s original founders) began simultaneously bogging down the group text with words like “tender” and “cheaper” and “more delicious,” Jon’s genuine astonishment became clear.

“I’ve been beholden to trash chicken breast all this time?!”

His words, not mine.

I assured Jon that chicken breast absolutely has its place.

Cubed and marinated for a lean, protein-heavy stir fry loaded with fresh ginger, garlic, and veggies? Yes. Chargrilled in a sandwich slathered with mayonnaise and topped with crunchy lettuce? Absolutely.

But when it comes to richness, juiciness, and an all-around better cooking partner in crime? Chicken thigh meat is the answer.

Dark meat is also incredibly forgiving, whereas chicken breast can become an overcooked catastrophe within minutes.

Vertical top-down image of cooked meat pieces covered in thin slices of citrus next to herbs and metal spoons in a cast iron pan.

Particularly for the cooking method employed here to prepare this recipe, where the chicken is seared on the stovetop and then finished in the oven, I’m of the opinion that the thighs impart ten times more flavor to the overall dish. And I always opt for skin-on, bone-in thighs.

Why? It’s simple – bones and fat bring more flavor than lean protein.

When the chicken is seared, some of the fat and liquids that are released into the skillet combine deliciously with the sauteing aromatics. And when it is simmering, the bones release their meaty goodness into the oregano-infused cooking liquid.

Okay, I know you’re starving by now, but enough about the chicken! Let’s move on to the real breakout star of this one-pot prize in terms of flavor: the lemons.

Vertical close-up image of four cooked meat pieces, each covered with a thin slice of caramelized citrus in a dark pan.

I know, I know. You’ve had “lemon chicken” probably as many times as you’ve had cereal.

But if you haven’t had the pleasure of digging into a serving of thinly sliced, lightly charred lemons draped delicately over roasted poultry thighs, then we’re talking about two different things. As the citrus juices creep out and the rinds begin to brown, a tart, tangy glaze comes to life.

After a quick bee-bop through the oven, the finale features a pungent and herby white wine and garlic pan sauce. Toss in a couple pats of butter and you’re left with a silky-smooth mixture to drape over your finished dish.

Cooking club doesn’t sound so dorky now, does it?

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Horizontal image of a pan filled with cooked meat pieces topped with herbs and citrus slices in a sauce next to a red and white towel.

Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Oregano, Garlic, and White Wine


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Crank up the flavor with these caramelized lemon cast iron chicken thighs simmered with white wine, garlic, and bold, earthy oregano.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 lbs)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 large lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Season the chicken on both sides with the salt and pepper. Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, sear each piece until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, and then set aside on a plate. Pour out and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the liquid left in the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the oregano, and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the white wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring the sauce to a boil.
  4. Return the chicken and any juices that have collected on the plate back to the pan and arrange in a single layer. If your pan isn’t big enough, transfer everything to a baking dish. Place the lemon slices on top of the chicken, arranged to cover as much of the surface as possible without overlapping. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the lemon slices are caramelized, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken and lemons from the pan and return the sauce to the stovetop, over medium-high heat. Cook until the sauce has reduced by half, about 5-8 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as needed, and then whisk in the butter until it is completely melted and thoroughly combined.
  6. Arrange the chicken thighs and caramelized lemon slices on a platter, pour the pan sauce over the top, garnish with the remaining oregano, and serve.
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: Poultry

Keywords: chicken, lemon, garlic, white wine, oregano

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Season and Sear the Meat

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.

Horizontal image of a white plate with 6 pieces of raw, skin-on poultry with seasoning.

The drier the skin is, the better the sear will be, so pat it dry with paper towels before seasoning. Season each piece of meat on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, sear each piece until it’s golden brown, for about 2 minutes per side, and then set it aside on a plate.

Horizontal image of a dark skillet with seared poultry pieces.

Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the oil and chicken fat mixture left in the pan, and discard it. Be careful, because it’s hot!

Step 2 – Saute the Aromatics and Deglaze the Pan

Mince the garlic, and chop the oregano. Thinly slice the lemon into rounds and remove any seeds. Be sure to slice the lemon as thin as you can – I was able to get about nine slices from the large lemon that I used.

Horizontal image of pouring liquid in a pan with cooked aromatics.

Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the oregano, and saute for about 30 seconds.

Next, it’s time to deglaze your pan. Add the white wine and scrape any browned bits or fond from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and bring the sauce to a boil.

Step 3 – Top the Meat with Lemon and Bake

Arrange the thighs in the pan in a single layer, and return any juices that have collected on the plate to the pan. If your pan isn’t big enough, transfer everything to a baking dish instead.

Horizontal image of a pan filled with cooked meat pieces topped with herbs and citrus slices in a sauce next to a red and white towel and fresh herbs.

Place the lemon slices on top of the chicken, arranged in a single layer without overlapping, and then bake until the meat is cooked through and the lemon slices are caramelized, about 35 to 40 minutes.

To check for doneness, chicken thigh meat should register 165°F on a meat thermometer. Be sure to insert the probe into the meat without touching the bone.

Step 4 – Reduce the Sauce and Whisk in Butter

Remove the meat and lemons from the pan and arrange them on a serving platter.

Return the sauce to the stove and place the pan over medium-high heat. If you transferred everything to a baking dish, return the sauce to your cast iron pan.

Horizontal image of whisking a yellow sauce in a pan.

Cook until the sauce has reduced by half, for about 5-8 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, and then whisk in the butter. The sauce should be thick and creamy.

Pour the pan sauce over the top, and garnish with the remaining oregano.

Not Your Average Lemon Chicken

Once you’ve successfully mastered the art of caramelizing thinly sliced lemons, your chicken dinners will never be the same.

Don’t let those leftovers go to waste. Chop up any remaining meat and lemons, and toss them with asiago cheese-covered pasta for a sharp, salty delight.

Horizontal image of a pan filled with cooked meat pieces topped with herbs and citrus slices in a sauce next to a red and white towel.

Seafood and citrus are BFFs, so feel free to swap in a thick, meaty fish for your protein. Also, a heaping sidecar of garlic bread for swapping up every drop of that buttery wine sauce is never a bad idea.

Looking for even more chicken entrees to change things up at dinnertime? Give these recipes a try next:

If fresh oregano is too aggressive for your palate, you could always reach for rosemary instead. Please share your favorite herby poultry companions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Jennifer Swartvagher on July 8, 2015. Last updated on January 21, 2021.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

22 thoughts on “Skillet Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Lemon, Oregano, Garlic, and White Wine”

  1. This would be a great crockpot dish. We have a crock pot at home. The last dish we used it was for making pulled pork.

    Reply
  2. Oh, boy how delicious is this going to be? 425°, interesting I wouldn’t of thought to go that high. I would of thought around 350, but maybe because of the skillet. Must make it crispier. Looks like orange slices in there. Very simple ingredients but between the wine and the lemon. I can only imagine

    Reply
  3. Your picture looks delicious, and the recipe sounds pretty easy. I just cooked chicken thighs last night, using a different recipe. I haven’t tasted it yet, because I was too tired to eat after working all day and cooking, but I think I’ll try your recipe next time I get some thighs. Usually I only cook them on the grill, because I don’t care for them cooked in the oven, but your recipe sounds as if it’s similar to how they taste from the grill, so I’m looking forward to tasting it.

    Reply
  4. Wow! Those look so delicious and I’m always looking for ways to mix things up while still getting healthy food on the table. What can I say? I do love a quick, easy, healthy meal. Thanks for the ideas!

    Reply
  5. This sounds like that perfect healthy meal that is not going to be too much trouble to make. The whole family will love it. We eat mostly chicken in our home because it is cost effective and healthy. I am always looking for new recipes and new ways of cooking my chicken. Thanks, I would love to try this!

    Reply
  6. As a huge chicken fan, it is my go-to meat and source of protein. I personally prefer the breasts though – is there a specific reason that thighs are chosen in this recipe instead? Would it work if I went with my preference, or is there a specific reason to choose the dark over the white meat? Either way, the combo of spices in here sound absolutely heavenly, and the recipe doesn’t seem too difficult to do either. I will definitely give this one a try, too; maybe with some of those fried & breaded zucchini side ideas from another article posted here on Foodal earlier!

    Reply
  7. This recipe looks delicious as well, it features some of my favorite ingredients. I’ve never actually cooked with white wine before, I bet it would really wake up my palate.

    Reply
  8. This looks like a nice way to get that brown, crispy skin on chicken. I usually just dump them in the oven and try to poke them around to get decent effect. Those look super taste. Also, adding actual slices of lemon sound like a great idea, instead of just sprinkling around some juice. Really brings nice look to the dish! I haven’t used wines in cooking that much, getting more information about them in later posts would be nice. It’s so hard to choose proper ones whne you’re just used to drinking them as is…

    Reply
  9. I usually prefer the chicken thighs as well, having been given nothing but dry chicken breast when I was younger. However, for me, it is difficult to make them a little bit different every time so that it doesn’t induce boredom. I have put it with lemons before, but I have not yet tried it with white wine and oregano. Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
  10. I really love these recipes. I usually have these ingredients collecting dust somehwere in my kitchen. Now I have a use for them. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  11. Ohh, I’m definitely making this in my cast iron skillet. I love chicken thighs, and know how to remove the bones myself, so I do not have to pay more. I love simple recipes with perfectly complementary flavors like this one.

    Reply
  12. I am absolutely in love with this recipe! Seriously amazing. I love the combination of the lemon, garlic and white wine flavors, and they just pair so beautifully with chicken! This is one recipe I will keep and make over and over again. It is a hit every time!

    Reply
  13. This dish looks delicious. I also love t because it is so healthy. Every time I come across a quick but healthy meal I make sure to save it for later. My fiancé is a huge fan of lemon chicken so I think I’m going to give this one a try.

    Reply
  14. I love lemon chicken and cannot wait to try this! I don’t mind bone in thighs, but I do cook for my kids too, so the boneless variety are a much better choice. I’ll probably add a little lemon pepper or garlic salt as well, but that’s just because I’m a fanatic for them!

    Reply
  15. This looks like a great recipe to try when guests are coming over. I would think that Chicken, garlic , and oregano, appeal to most people’s tastes. So this is definitely one I will try next time I have have guests!

    Reply
  16. I just happened to come across this recipe and I know this is a simple yet delicious dish. I love chicken thighs (the most juiciest part of the chicken) they are so versatile and flavorful. They are great freezer staples that last a long time. I would even make a large batch of these and freeze them, that way I can defrost as needed. Very versatile, I can use it for soups and more…love it!! I think I would prefer to cook them in the oven, but I will try the skillet because they still look super juicy.

    Reply
  17. Yay! A simple chicken recipe. There’s no way I can mess this up! It’s funny when I’m on a fast this gorgeous chicken dish pops up on my computer screen the first time I open foodal! Oh, life is a tease!

    Reply
  18. This is a great and quick recipe for turning a basic piece of chicken into a gourmet tasting meal with only a few ingredients and a few minutes of extra time. Also the white wine and lemon makes this a good meal for next-day leftovers as the flavors will get stronger in the chicken overnight. I make a similar recipe and serve it over rice as the juice can be used to add flavor to plain white rice.

    Reply
  19. Chicken, white wine and garlic is a winning combination in my book. I would swap out the chicken thighs for chicken breast, as that’s my preference, but this is definitely a recipe I will be trying. I’ll probably serve this with wild rice and some green vegetables.

    Reply
  20. This looks & sounds fabulous! We are not huge fans of dark meat, though, yesterday, I caught a huge sale on thighs and legs, so I couldnt resist buying them. I think we will check out this recipe first, in hopes that it turns out good. Seems like a healthy option too!

    Reply

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