Chicken thighs with fennel and cherry tomatoes is a one-pan dish with just a few simple but flavorful ingredients. Chicken thighs, fennel, garlic, and onion are lightly seared and then set to braise in the oven with cherry tomatoes and fennel fronds until tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor!
I love cooking with chicken thighs because they are typically budget-friendly, and they are pretty hard to mess up.
Meaning that it's hard to overcook them because of their fat content.
The flavor from the fennel and tomatoes is outstanding, plus both yield so much liquid that very little extra is needed when braising the thighs.
Either way, I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat your oven to 325f. Slice one large fennel bulb (discard the bottom core) into strips, reserving the fronds as shown below. Note: All of the fennel is edible, but I do prefer to remove the very bottom core area. Also, if the fennel is a little dirty, give it a good scrub then if needed peel the outer layer.
- Slice 4 cloves of garlic, 24 ounces (or 2 dry pints - that's how they are almost always sold here in America) cherry tomatoes, and 1 medium-sized onion.
- Season 3-4 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large oven-safe pan to medium heat and coat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel right before placing them into the hot pan. You most likely need to work in batches to not overcrowd the pan. Sear the chicken for approximately 3 minutes per side or until well browned, then remove from the pan and set aside. Note: A good sear is desired here, but don't cook the chicken all the way through. That will happen during the braising process.
- To the same pan, add the fennel and cook for 5 minutes or until softened a bit. If the pan is dry, add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil.
- Add the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes longer. Then, turn the heat to high and add a ½ cup of dry white wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all the brown bits. Boil until the wine is almost evaporated (2-3 minutes), then turn off the heat.
- Add the chicken and cherry tomatoes to the pan and sprinkle the fennel fronds on top. Drizzle with a few more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
- Move the pan to the oven and braise for 45-60 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 175f or higher. Check halfway through and if the dish looks dry, add a little bit of water. You likely won't need to as the fennel and tomatoes will release enough liquid to keep everything moist. The chicken can be broiled for the last 2-3 minutes to crisp up the top, if desired. Top with ¼ cup of minced flat leaf parsley right before serving and mix together. Enjoy!
Top tips for perfect chicken with fennel
- The chicken. I love cooking with chicken thighs because they're pretty hard to overcook and always come out tender and juicy.
- The wine. This recipe calls for a ½ cup of dry white wine. I usually stick to sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio when cooking but an unoaked chardonnay would also work well. If you do not want to use wine, simply replace the wine with low-sodium chicken broth.
- The tomatoes. If cherry or grape tomatoes are available to you, I'd recommend using them. If they are not, the next best would be to use one 28-ounce of canned plum tomatoes that have been quickly drained.
- The pan. I highly recommend using an oven-safe pan when making fennel and chicken thighs. It really makes this a one-pan dish and cuts down on the amount of clean-up after the fact. If you don't have an oven-safe frying pan, you can cook the chicken, fennel, onions, and garlic in a frying pan and then transfer them all to a roasting pan or baking dish to be placed in the oven.
More great chicken recipes
If you're looking for more ways to use chicken, here are a few of our family favorites!
- Chicken and peppers - Chicken thighs, bell peppers, garlic, and white wine.
- Chicken Vesuvio - Chicken pieces, roasted potatoes, and peas in a lemon-garlic white wine sauce.
- Chicken Scarpariello - Chicken, sausage, potatoes, bell peppers, and cherry peppers in a vinegar sauce.
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- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large fennel sliced, reserve fronds
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 24 ounces cherry tomatoes halved, note: 24 ounces = 2 dry pints
- ½ cup dry white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley minced
- Preheat your oven to 325f and season chicken thighs aggressively with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat and coat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Pat chicken pieces dry right before placing them into the pan making sure not to overcrowd. Sear ~3 minutes per side or until browned and set chicken pieces aside. Work in batches.
- To the same pan add the fennel and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. If the pan is dry add a bit more olive oil. Add in the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes longer.
- Turn heat to high and add in the wine. With a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all the brown bits. Boil until the wine almost evaporates (about 2-3 minutes) then turn off the heat.
- Place all of the chicken and cherry tomatoes into the pan. Sprinkle the fennel fronds on top and drizzle a couple more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil all over.
- Braise the chicken thighs at 325f for 45-60 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 175f or higher. The chicken can be broiled for the last 2-3 minutes if desired to crisp it up on top. Sprinkle the parsley on top and mix together. Enjoy!
- If necessary, add a bit of water during the braising process to keep everything moist. But this most likely will not be needed since the fennel and tomatoes will release plenty of liquid.
- For white meat, to avoid drying out the chicken, it is important to not cook past 160f internal temp. However, for dark meat (chicken thighs are dark meat), it is better to cook to at least 175f to break down the connective tissue and create a more tender bite of chicken.
- Dry white wines to use include Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or un-oaked Chardonnay. Use low-sodium chicken stock in place of wine if you wish to not use alcohol.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop on medium-low heat until warmed through.