This easy cheesy French Onion Chicken skillet recipe is the best affordable chicken breast recipe you’ll ever try! It’s fancy, inexpensive, and delicious.
French Onion Chicken
We’re officially entering comfort food season, and I am 100% here for it. We had our first day in the 40’s today. I’m breaking out my cold weather gear and dreaming up all the recipes I’m most excited to share with you this season.
This pan seared French onion chicken was at the top of my list. I’ve been loving it lately and Shane has been requesting it a lot. It’s the perfect date night food – or really the perfect anytime you want to have a special and indulgent meal kind of food.
To make this extra special, try broiling it for a minute after you bake it. The golden brown bits of cheese are absolute perfection!
If you love chicken recipes, be sure to check out my extensive chicken recipe category! There are tons of delicious recipes there. Some favorites are the Chicken Stuffed Peppers and the Chicken Tinga Tacos.
How Is This Recipe Affordable?
I like to make recipes that amp up the flavor, but limit the most expensive ingredients. That lets us feel like we had an incredible meal, but our bank will stay happy, too.
In this recipe, I decided to cut the chicken in half lengthwise so that I could use only two chicken breasts instead of four. I also opted to only use one kind of cheese instead of two. I love it when I can buy fewer expensive ingredients and save more of the ones that I do buy for later!
If you want to bulk up this recipe, you can use four full chicken breasts (pounded to an even thickness).
You could also try topping each chicken breast with both a slice of Swiss cheese and a slice of provolone (mozzarella and Gruyere work great here, too).
If you decide to use 4 chicken breasts, the only other changes you’d need to make are to add an additional 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme to the chicken rub, and to saute the chicken breasts for 5 minutes per side.
Can I Speed Up the Onions Caramelizing?
Yes! I prefer to cook the onions low and slow, but on busy weeknights, I don’t always have the time.
To speed up the process you can add a pinch of baking soda to the onions once they’ve started to soften. This raises the pH level of the onions, and allows the caramelization to occur more quickly (this is called the Maillard reaction). With this method, you should be able to caramelize the onions in about 20 minutes. Just be sure to only try a pinch of baking soda, too much will turn the onions to mush.
Alternatively, you could try just cooking the onions until they’re soft because tons of flavor is added from the balsamic vinegar and beef broth. If the onions don’t taste as sweet as they should, you can add in 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar towards the end of sautéing. Even though it won’t have the same depth of flavor as caramelized onions, it’ll be a lot faster and will still be delicious.
What Kind of Skillet Should I Use to Caramelize Onions?
It’s important not to use a nonstick skillet in this recipe. Nonstick skillets will soften onions, but they won’t allow them to truly caramelize. I love using a large cast iron skillet (large enough that the chicken breasts have room between them) because it allows this dinner to be a one pan meal. A Dutch oven would also work perfectly for this recipe.
Can I Use Chicken Broth Instead of Beef Broth?
Definitely! I used beef broth because that’s what is traditionally used in French Onion Soup, but feel free to swap it for chicken broth if that’s what you prefer.
What to Serve this Chicken Breast Recipe With:
There is quite a bit of onion and sauce compared to the chicken. We love it that way! It’s decadent and so delicious.
I definitely recommend serving this with something that you can enjoy the sauce with. My personal favorites are to serve it with mashed potatoes and green beans, to serve it over rice, or to serve it sliced over pasta.
If you try this recipe, please let me know what you thought in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime
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- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 2 large yellow onions (sliced into ¼” thick slices)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (divided)
- 2 medium cloves garlic (diced)
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut in half lengthwise, and pounded to an even thickness)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground thyme
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base
- 1 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- Heat a large sized cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Swirl the pan to coat and to melt the butter.
- Add in the onion and stir to coat. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then sprinkle with ½ teaspoon fine sea salt and stir to combine. Saute for an additional 35 minutes, stirring every few minutes. After 30 minutes total cooking time, you may need to turn the temperature down. The trick is to stir the onions frequently enough that they don’t burn, but not so frequently that they don’t brown. If you notice that the onions are sticking too much, you may need to add in an additional teaspoon of oil about halfway through cooking. Once they are a deep brown color, they’re finished caramelizing.
- Add in the garlic and saute for an additional 1 - 2 minutes, or until the garlic is aromatic.
- Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up any of the brown bits at the bottom.
- Transfer the onions to a plate and set to the side.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Sprinkle the pepper, thyme, and remaining salt over both sides of each chicken breast.
- Return the pan to the stove on medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil is heated and shimmers, add the chicken breasts.
- Saute the chicken breasts for 3 - 5 minutes per side (since the chicken breasts are cut in half lengthwise and pounded to an even thickness, they don’t need to saute for too long), or until the meat is golden.
- While the chicken is sauteing, combine the warm water and bouillon in a large mug of cup. Stir until the bouillon dissolves. Add in the cornstarch and stir until it dissolves.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set to the side.
- Pour the bouillon and starch mixture into the pan over medium high heat, and stir to make sure it’s fully incorporated. Let the mixture come to a simmer, and thicken slightly.
- Add the caramelized onions back to the pan and spread out evenly. Place the chicken on top of the onions. Add one slice of Swiss cheese to the top of each chicken breast.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F and the cheese is hot and bubbly. Broil for 1 minute if desired.
- Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve while hot.
It’s important to use the right cookware for this recipe. A nonstick skillet won’t allow the onions to truly caramelize. I prefer a cast iron skillet because it caramelizes the onions well and it’s oven safe, allowing this to be a one pan recipe.
This recipe is written to be cost effective, so it uses two chicken breasts cut in half and only one kind of cheese. If you wanted to make the recipe more substantial, you could use 4 chicken breasts (not cut in half, but pounded to an even thickness), and also add a slice of provolone on top of each slice of Swiss. The only additional change in the ingredients and instructions would be to use an additional ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon thyme to the mixture to sprinkle on the chicken, and to saute each piece of chicken for 5 minutes per side.
Chicken bouillon or broth can be substituted for the beef broth if you prefer. If you substitute broth for the Better Than Bouillon brand, taste the broth and add salt to taste.
If you prefer a thick sauce (versus the relatively runny gravy in this recipe), you can add in ½ more Tablespoon cornstarch.
There is quite a bit of onion and sauce compared to the chicken. We love it that way! It’s decadent and so delicious. I definitely recommend serving this with something that you can enjoy the sauce with. My personal favorites are to serve it with mashed potatoes and green beans, to serve it over rice, or to serve it sliced over pasta.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 419Total Fat: 28.9gSaturated Fat: 11.5gTrans Fat: 0.6gCarbohydrates: 11.4gNet Carbohydrates: 10.2gFiber: 1.2gSugar: 3.8gProtein: 28.1g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
Try this French Onion Chicken recipe! Once you do, it will definitely be added to your dinner rotation.