French Onion Chicken Breasts
Nov 14, 2022, Updated Feb 21, 2024
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French onion chicken breasts merge the savory depth of caramelized onions and melted cheese with the succulence of perfectly cooked chicken, creating a delectable dish that’s brimming with the comforting flavors of classic French cuisine.
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Mouthwatering French Onion Chicken Breasts
I am always looking for new ways to make chicken breast. This recipe was originally more of a chicken infused french onion soup but I found I wanted more chicken and less soup. As I played with the recipe, over time it transformed into a french onion and gruyere coated chicken breast that is to die for.
Most people think of “french onion” as those crispy fried onions on top of green bean casserole. While those crunchy little morsels would taste great on top of this chicken you want to focus on getting more of a carmelized onion “french onion” flavor. In order to unlock caramelized onion flavor you will need to make sure you cook the onions until they are almost a caramel color. Don’t rush it!
How to Make French Onion Chicken
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- Butter – I use butter to keep things from sticking to the pan and add a salty richness that only butter can.
- Chicken breasts – chicken breast is one of my favorite proteins and it loves to soak up richness from the onions, butter, and spices in this recipe. See FAQs for info about substituting chicken thighs.
- Thyme – thyme is the aromatic high point of this dish. Dry thyme will work but I like to use fresh thyme whenever possible. If you can’t grow it outdoors all year round try a kitchen grow kit.
- Salt and Pepper – this dynamic duo will bring out the flavor of all the other ingredients while also adding a hit of heat. As a general rule you want to use a ratio of 3:1 salt : pepper.
- Onions – you want to make sure to slice the onions very thin so they can caramelize easily. I use yellow onions for this recipe but you can use white onions as well.
- Beef broth – use a high quality beef broth for the best flavor in your sauce. Beef broth will give this chicken a hearty hit that isn’t possible with vegetable or chicken broth.
- Cornstarch – I use cornstarch to thicken the sauce, you can substitute with arrowroot powder if you prefer. Do not omit this or your sauce will be very runny.
- Gruyere cheese – gruyere has a sweet but also slightly salty flavor and melts well over the chicken. If you want to substitute another cheese I recommend parmesan or asiago for a similar flavor and texture.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:
- Prep – Pound the chicken breasts till they are 1” thick. Season with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Use an oven safe skillet to heat 1 tablespoon of butter until bubbly hot. Sear the chicken on both sides and set it aside.
- Brown Chicken – Add 2 tablespoons more of butter to the skillet. Once hot add the onions to the pan and cook for at least 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions are browned and completely softened.
- Make French Onion Sauce – Mix the beef broth and cornstarch together in a small bowl until combined. Add it to the onions and cook for 2 minutes until thickened then turn the heat off.
- Bake – Add the chicken back to the skillet and cover in the onion sauce. Top the chicken with shredded gruyere and bake in the oven at 400? for 5 to 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked to 165 degrees internal temperature.
- Enjoy! –
Tips and Tricks to Perfect French Onion Chicken:
Cook the onions until caramel in color. The onions are the powerhouse flavor in this recipe so make sure you cook them until they are truly caramelized. You can add a little dusting of sugar to the onions to make them caramelize better.
Use a high-quality beef broth. You want to use a high-quality beef broth for this recipe. I prefer the “better than bouillon” brand. Buy it at this link.
Caramelize Onions Slowly: For deep, sweet flavor, cook the onions on low heat for a longer time, allowing them to caramelize without burning.
Use Quality Cheese: Opt for a high-quality Gruyère or Swiss cheese for the best melt and flavor. These cheeses complement the savory onions and tender chicken beautifully.
Deglaze the Pan: After browning the chicken and sautéing the onions, deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine or beef broth to incorporate those rich, caramelized bits into the sauce.
Sear Chicken First: Sear the chicken breasts on both sides before topping with the onion mixture and cheese to lock in the juices and ensure a golden crust.
Thicken the Sauce: If you desire a thicker sauce, consider mixing a small amount of flour into the onions before adding the liquid, creating a roux that will thicken the sauce as it cooks.
Broil to Perfection: To achieve a beautifully melted and slightly browned cheese topping, place the ovenproof skillet under the broiler for a few minutes after the chicken is cooked through.
Rest the Chicken: Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes after removing it from the oven to ensure the juices redistribute and the meat remains moist.
Season Well: Don’t forget to season each layer — the chicken, onions, and sauce — with salt and pepper to build depth of flavor.
Use Fresh Herbs: Garnish with fresh thyme or parsley before serving to add a burst of color and freshness that cuts through the richness.
Choose the Right Pan: Use an oven-safe skillet to seamlessly transition from stovetop to broiler, minimizing cleanup.
Adjust Cooking Times: Depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts, cooking times may vary. Use a meat thermometer to ensure chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
Experiment with Onions: While yellow onions are classic, mixing in a few red onions or shallots can add complexity to the dish.
Yes, chicken thighs will work here. Use boneless skinless chicken thighs and only pound the thick part of the thigh.
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Yellow onions are ideal for their balance of sweetness and astringency, perfect for caramelizing. You can also use a mix of yellow and red onions for added depth of flavor.
Searing the chicken on high heat quickly and then finishing it in the oven at a moderate temperature helps keep it juicy. Also, letting the chicken rest for a few minutes after cooking allows the juices to redistribute.
Beef or chicken broth works well as a non-alcoholic option to deglaze the pan and add flavor to the sauce.
While best served fresh, you can caramelize the onions and sear the chicken ahead of time. Assemble and bake with cheese just before serving to ensure the chicken is tender and the cheese is bubbly.
Create a slurry by mixing a teaspoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and stir it into the sauce, cooking for a few more minutes until it thickens.
The safest way is to use a meat thermometer; the chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) at the thickest part.
What to serve with French Onion Chicken Breast?
Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy and flavorful, they soak up the delicious sauce that accompanies the chicken. Try garlic butter potatoes.
Steamed Green Beans: A light and healthy side that adds freshness and a slight crunch to balance the richness of the dish.
Roasted Asparagus: With a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, roasted asparagus adds a sophisticated touch. Try garlic herb green beans.
Crusty French Baguette: Perfect for sopping up the savory onion and cheese sauce that makes French onion chicken so irresistible.
Caesar Salad: A classic salad with a creamy dressing to complement the chicken’s flavors without overpowering them.
Buttered Egg Noodles: Simple and comforting, egg noodles provide a subtle base that pairs well with the bold flavors of the dish.
Sautéed Spinach: Garlic sautéed spinach offers a quick, healthy side that brings a touch of brightness to the meal.
Rice Pilaf: A flavorful rice pilaf can absorb the chicken’s juices and make for a hearty accompaniment.
Roasted Carrots: Their natural sweetness contrasts nicely with the savory, umami-rich chicken.
Gratin Dauphinois: Thinly sliced potatoes baked in cream for a decadent side that matches the luxurious feel of French onion chicken.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts: The slight bitterness of Brussels sprouts caramelized with a bit of balsamic vinegar complements the dish’s deep flavors.
Quinoa Salad: A light and nutty quinoa salad with lemon vinaigrette can add a refreshing and healthy element to your meal.
If you can’t get enough of French onion chicken breast, try these next, one pot garlic butter chicken thighs and mushrooms, garlic baked pork tenderloin, air fryer chicken drumsticks, and garlic flank steak.
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- 3 tbsp butter, divided
- 4 medium chicken breasts
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 large onions, sliced very thin
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Pound chicken breasts with a rolling pin until about 1” thick.
- Season both sides of chicken with thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Melt 1 tbsp of butter in an oven safe skillet then add the chicken.
- Sear chicken for 3 minutes on each side. Set the seared chicken aside
- In the skillet, heat 2 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add sliced onions and cook for 10-15 minutes or until browned and softened.
- In a small bowl, mix the beef broth with 1 tbsp cornstarch.
- Add the broth cornstarch mixture to the onions. Whisk together for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Turn off heat.
- Add chicken back to the skillet and using a spoon, cover the chicken with the onions and sauce.
- Top each chicken breast with finely shredded gruyere cheese.
- Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 5-8 minutes or until internal temp reads 165F.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 462Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 163mgSodium 1212mgCarbohydrates 9gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 49g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.