Hey friends! I am so thrilled to share with all of you my flavorful, comforting French Onion Chicken Bake recipe. This dish has truly become a staple meal in my household that we make over and over again, especially on those cold, dreary weekend days when you just want something warm, hearty, and deeply satisfying.
As soon as this French onion and herb-infused chicken creation comes fresh out of the oven, the incredible aromas of sweet caramelized onions, savory garlic and thyme fill up our whole kitchen and living room. Just one single forkful of that crispy chicken skin topped with melted, ooey-gooey cheese and those ultra sweet balsamic glazed onions has me looking forward to and literally craving the next chilly day ahead. It is absolute comfort food bliss, my friends! Each bite makes your soul feel so warm, cozy and happy, like a big oven-baked hug.
I also really love making this French Onion Chicken Bake when we have company over, especially in the Fall and Winter. As soon as guests walk through the front door, they start sniffing around asking “Mmmm what smells SO good?” Then once I pull this creation fresh from the oven, golden and bubbling, and transfer that impressive-looking baking dish right to the dinner table for all to see, everyone’s jaws absolutely drop. Before I can even grab the serving spoon to dish out portions, folks are already eagerly leaning in with their forks ready to dig into this work of art that they can’t believe was so simple to throw together with a handful of basic ingredients. But what can I say, caramelizing onions and baking chicken is just a little magic!
What makes this chicken bake so flavorful?
The sweet, caramelized onions, garlic, thyme and balsamic vinegar give this dish incredible depth of flavor. The onions become jammy and tangy!
Do I need to babysit the onions while they caramelize?
Nope! Once you get them cooking over medium-low heat with some garlic, thyme and balsamic vinegar, you can just let them simmer until rich and jammy.
What type of chicken works best?
I recommend bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts because the skin gets beautifully crispy and helps keep the meat juicy.
Can I prep this ahead of time?
Absolutely! Assemble completely the night before and store covered in the fridge. Add 5 minutes to the baking time.
What sides go well with this?
Buttery mashed potatoes, egg noodles, rice pilaf and a crisp green salad are perfect complements.
Can I use red or white onions instead?
Yellow or white onions will provide the sweetest, mildest flavor, but you can sub some red onions for a splash of color if you like.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
- 1⁄4 cup butter (1/2 stick), divided
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1⁄2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 4 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (2-21⁄2 pounds total)
- 1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. This high heat will help the chicken skin get crispy and brown. Lightly coat a 9×13 inch baking dish all over with nonstick cooking spray. This prevents the onions and chicken from sticking.
- In a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Allow the butter to melt completely until it stops foaming, about 2 minutes. Once melted, add the sliced yellow onions all at once. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onions turn translucent and start to lightly brown around the edges. This step starts bringing out the onions’ natural sweetness.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low so the onions cook slower. Add the minced garlic cloves, 1⁄2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, 1 teaspoon of crumbled dry thyme leaves and a good pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the garlic becomes very fragrant. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
- Pour in the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth. Use your wooden spoon to scrape up all those flavorful browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Increase heat to medium to bring the liquid up to a gentle simmer. Let simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion mixture thickens to a sweet, jammy consistency. The onions should caramelize to a deep golden brown.
- Spread half of the caramelized onion mixture (about 2 cups) in an even layer across the bottom of your prepared baking dish. This flavorful base prevents the chicken from sticking.
- Arrange the 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, smooth skin side up, over the onions in a single layer. Make sure they fit nicely without overlapping. Evenly sprinkle 1⁄4 teaspoon salt total over both sides of the chicken breasts. The salt lightly seasons and adds flavor.
- Evenly spoon and spread the remaining onion mixture over the top of the chicken, completely covering the skin. This helps the chicken bake up extra moist and infuses it with sweet onion flavor.
- In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter for 15-30 seconds until just melted. Using a cooking brush, gently brush the melted butter evenly all over the chicken skin. The butter helps the skin achieve a beautifully crisp, golden brown texture.
- Evenly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese then the finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the top until the chicken is completely coated. This creates an irresistibly delicious, cheesy crust.
- Bake the chicken uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the juices run clear when pierced with a knife and the skin is crispy and deep golden brown. If the skin isn’t quite crispy enough after 25 minutes, turn oven to broil for 1-2 minutes which finishes it off.
- Let the entire dish rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving the chicken. This allows all the delicious juices to absorb back into the meat, keeping each bite succulent and flavorful. Enjoy this comforting, decadent French Onion Chicken Bake!
- Use yellow or white onions for the sweetest flavor in the sauce.
- Balsamic vinegar adds signature tang. If you don’t have it, use red wine vinegar.
- Browning the onions well over higher heat first brings out their natural sweetness.
- For convenience, assemble this the night before. Store covered in fridge and add 5 minutes to baking time.
- No need to flip chicken. Baking skin-side up gives you crispy, flavorful skin.
- Letting dish rest before serving allows juices to reabsorb for juicy chicken.