This dairy-free Dijon chicken thighs recipe makes an easy one pan dinner! The apples and kale serve as the side dish. Ready in about an hour.
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This dijon chicken thighs recipe is full of fall ingredients, showcasing apples in all sorts of ways—the fruit itself, the juice, and the vinegar—in a savory dish.
The sauce is a perfect balance of sweet and savory, tangy and acidic, with the bold flavors of mustard and vinegar being toned down by apple cider and sage.
Mustard and vinegar are two of my favorite ingredients to cook with. Yes, cook with. (I've got 4 kinds of mustard in the fridge and 6 kinds of vinegar in the cupboard.) Keep a variety around and try using them to amp up your sauces. Don't just save them for condiments and salad dressing!
A Dijon Chicken recipe that's full of fall flavors and uses apples 3 ways!
- Fresh apples, apple cider, and apple cider vinegar all combine for delicious flavor throughout the dish without being overly sweet.
- Sage in the sauce brings all the fall feels.
- Hearty kale cooks down to a tender consistency and provides a built-in side dish.
- Chicken thighs get a crispy skin for added texture and crunch.
- Dijon mustard thickens the sauce and adds tanginess to balance the fruitiness of the apples.
Ingredients you'll need
- Chicken thighs: Try to find 8 thighs that are relatively close to the same size and not too big. You'll crisp them up in two batches, but they all have to fit into the pan at the same time when it goes into the oven.
- Kale: Just the good old curly kale. No need to pay more for the fancier Tuscan variety. (Unless you want to.)
- Apples: Use sweet red apples such as Fuji or Gala. US Apple has great resources if you want to compare varieties.
- Apple cider: Just plain apple cider. Make sure it's not flavored with cinnamon or other spices. I like the natural, unfiltered ones for this because it adds a bit more flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar: Again, I like the unfiltered cider vinegar that still has the mother in it. More tang and flavor.
- Dijon mustard: We are using ¼ cup of Dijon! Bam! That's a lot of flavor. And I suggest you get a really zippy one, too.
- Fresh sage: Does anything taste more like fall than sage? I love the fresh stuff, but if you must, you can substitute dried sage, but only use 1 teaspoon because dried herbs are more concentrated.
- Shallots and garlic: The milder flavor of shallots blends perfectly with the mustard and apple flavors.
- Chicken stock, salt, pepper: This makes up the rest of our delicious sauce.
How to make dijon chicken thighs
Adapted from NYT Cooking. Follow these step by step instructions for best results.
Step 1: Prep the chicken thighs and get the skins crispy
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place a deep ovenproof skillet or casserole dish over medium high heat. I used my Lodge enameled cast iron casserole dish for this recipe.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Lodge Blogger Network. This pan was provided to me free of charge.
Working in two batches, place chicken thighs skin side down and let them get golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip over and brown on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Set chicken aside on a plate.
You will probably need to carefully drain off the hot fat from the pan before starting the second batch.
Step 2: Slice the shallots and apples, prep the kale and sage
While the chicken thighs are browning, slice the shallots thinly. Chop the sage finely.
Then slice the apples into thin little wedges.
You can use a mandoline to do this if you're not good at thin slices with a chef's knife. I have this OXO Good Grips mandoline and I love it because it stands up on its own so I don't have to worry about my other hand going unsteady and slicing a finger off! It also has a really good slicing guard. (not shown)
Remove the kale from the stems and tear into large pieces.
Step 3: Make the dijon sauce
When the second batch of chicken thighs are done, leave the fat in the pan. Add the shallots and garlic to the remaining rendered fat, stirring frequently and scraping up the browned bits of chicken until shallots are translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Add the dijon mustard, vinegar, apple cider, chicken stock, and sage to the pan and whisk to combine. If using an enamel or non-stick pan, be sure to use a silicone whisk to avoid damaging the surface of the pan.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Allow the dijon sauce to reduce slightly, then season with salt to taste.
Step 4: Add apples and kale to the sauce
Add the kale to the dijon sauce and keep turning it over in the pan until it is wilted. This will seem like SO. MUCH. KALE. But it wilts down considerably, don't worry!
Add the apples to the pan and stir to combine.
Step 5: Add the chicken thighs to the dijon sauce and bake in the oven
Nestle the browned chicken thighs back into the pan and place in the oven for about 25 minutes.
Dijon chicken tips, reheating instructions, and serving suggestions
- To remove kale leaves from the stem, fold the kale leaves toward each other like a greeting card. Grasp the stem with one hand and grasp the leaves with the other and pull both hands away from each other. The kale leaves will come away from the stem easily and quickly.
- This dijon chicken is a great idea for a weeknight dinner. Do your apple slicing and shallot chopping while the chicken thighs are browning and then all that's really left to do is pop it in the oven.
- This dish reheats well, just pop it into the oven at 250 until the sauce is bubbling and thighs are heated through.
- The kale and apples count as your side dish. Serve it over brown rice or with crusty bread to soak up the dijon sauce if you want something more.
More one pan chicken thighs recipes
More one pan chicken thigh recipes for those times when you want something easy, but not the same old same old!
- If you've never experienced the vinegar-laden joy of escabeche, you are missing out. Chicken Escabeche with Jalapeños, Golden Raisins, and Mint is a great introduction to this classic dish.
- Hungarian Chicken Paprikash is like a warm hug from grandma.
- When you're feeling all French and fancy, Chicken in Red Wine with Dried Plums will do the trick.
Dijon Chicken Thighs with Apples and Kale
- 3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 small red apples such as fuji or gala
- 1 large bunch kale about 8 ounces once stems are removed
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¾ cup apple cider
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 3 shallots thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves finely minced
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Place a deep ovenproof skillet or casserole dish over medium high heat.
- Working in two batches, place chicken thighs skin side down and let them get golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip over and brown on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Set chicken aside on a plate.You will probably need to carefully drain off the hot fat from the pan before starting the second batch.
- While the chicken thighs are browning, slice the shallots thinly and mince the garlic. Slice the apples into thin little wedges. Remove kale from stems and tear into large pieces.
- When the second batch of chicken thighs are done, leave the fat in the pan. Add the shallots and garlic to the remaining rendered fat, stirring frequently and scraping up the browned bits of chicken until shallots are translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
- Add the mustard, vinegar, apple cider, chicken stock, and sage to the pan and whisk to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Allow the dijon sauce to reduce slightly, then season with salt to taste.
- Add the kale to the dijon sauce and keep turning it over in the pan until it is wilted, then add the apple slices and stir to combine.
- Place the chicken thighs back into the pan and bake uncovered in the oven for 25 minutes.
- To remove kale leaves from stems, fold the leaves toward each other and grasp with one hand, then grasp stem with the other hand. Pull both hands away from each other, the leaves will come off easily.
- When you add the kale to the pan, it will seem like SO. MUCH. KALE. But don't worry, it wilts considerably. Just keep going!
- I used my Lodge enameled cast iron casserole for this recipe. It has high sides, so that keeps the spatter from browning the chicken to a minimum. You can also make this in a good ovenproof skillet, I've made this type of dish in my GreenPan skillet, too. (Disclosure: I am a member of the Lodge Blogger Network and this casserole dish was provided to me free of charge.)
- If you don't like attempting thin slices with a chef's knife, a kitchen mandoline might be just the thing you need. I have the OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer and I love it because it stands up on its own, has a wide range of adjustable widths, and a really good safety guard.
- To avoid damaging the surfaces of pans and casserole dishes, a good silicone whisk is a nice thing to have.
- Recipe adapted from NYT Cooking.
I really liked this recipe. I think maybe I needed to add more apples, as not enough of that flavor came through. I also used chicken broth instead of stock. I don’t know if that made a difference. I loved the kale much more than I expected to!
Yes, kale is so tasty and underrated! Glad you liked it!
Oh my! Outstanding!
Thanks Kira! Glad you liked the recipe!
Thanks for reading,
Nice recipe! But the recipe asks for 1 cup of chicken stock but does state when to add it.
Add the chicken stock when you add the vinegar, apple cider, mustard and sage. Thank you for catching this omission! I have now updated the recipe so you should be good to go!
Let me know if you try the recipe and thanks for reading!