One Pot Salsa Chicken Thighs Skillet

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Quick, delicious, and easy One Pot Salsa Chicken Thighs Skillet is a sure-fire weeknight quick win for the whole family – great in tacos, salads, wraps, and fajitas, too! Inspired by my trip through the Western Carribean to Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico with Princess Cruises.

chicken with salsa, cilantro, and olives on it

This post is in partnership with Princess Cruises. All opinions are 100% my own – I love to connect readers to brands I love, and for me, dreamy easy vacations and Princess Cruises just go together!

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A blue cruise ship, serving pina coladas, docked in the water.

Carribean ONe Pot Salsa Chicken Thighs Skillet

I was recently on a Carribean cruise with Princess Cruises – my favorite way to get away, relax, and see something beautiful.

Princess is one of my all-time favorite companies to talk about – I have been incredibly lucky to enjoy cruises through the Carribean, along Mexico’s western coast, and throughout the Baltic Sea with Princess – and never, ever get tired of all the fun things to see, do, and eat on a Princess cruise.

In port, on board, and even in-room – you just can’t beat all of the amazing flavors of new foods when cruising. I love to cruise to be able to experience so many different locales (and their foods) on the same trip, without the hassle of going from town to town on my own. It’s a great way to be able to try so many delicious new things in a short amount of time!

Food in Mexico is all about fresh – and letting ingredients stand on their own, unlike so much of the greasy fried Tex-Mex or overly Americanized Mexican food I’ve had in the past – and each time I come home from Mexico I just want to head into the kitchen and bring home some of the amazingly delicious foods I enjoyed!

This salsa chicken is super simple, so it’s a tasty indulgence anytime you want to get some of that spicy and fresh flavor at your home, too !

How to Make One Pot Salsa Chicken Thigh Skillet

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs (6) – The star of the dish, chicken thighs offer a rich and juicy meat that holds up well to the bold flavors of the skillet.
  • Celtic sea salt (1 tsp) – Celtic sea salt, with its moist, mineral-rich crystals, enhances the natural flavors of the chicken and salsa components.
  • Fresh cracked pepper (1 tsp) – Freshly ground black pepper adds a subtle heat and complexity, complementing the chicken’s savory notes.
  • Dried mexican oregano (1 tsp) – Mexican oregano, with its earthy and slightly citrusy flavor, infuses the dish with a traditional Mexican aroma.
  • Guajillo chile, dried (1) – Ground dried guajillo chile lends a mild to moderate heat and a hint of sweet, smoky depth to the skillet.
  • Butter (4 tbsp) – A touch of butter adds a rich silkiness to the sauce, balancing the spices and acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Garlic (5) – Minced garlic contributes a pungent, aromatic quality that is fundamental to building the skillet’s robust flavor profile.
  • Ro-tel spicy tomatoes with lime and cilantro (12 oz) – These canned tomatoes bring a spicy kick, zesty lime, and fresh cilantro notes, offering convenience without sacrificing taste.
  • Olives – Sliced olives introduce a briny contrast, adding texture and a Mediterranean twist to the dish.
  • Cilantro – Fresh cilantro sprinkled on top serves as a garnish, adding a burst of color and a refreshing, herby finish that cuts through the richness of the skillet.

Use this Method

Prep Chicken. Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel. Generously season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Cook Chicken. In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter on medium high until foamy and bubbling. Add chicken thighs. Let thighs crisp and brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Season generously with oregano.

Make Sauce. Add guajillo chile, 2 tbsp butter, garlic to pan, toss, and cook for 1-2 minutes until garlic is soft and fragrant. Add ro-tel and stock to pan. Let ro-tel and stock reduce, about 4 minutes.

Serve. When chicken has reached internal temp of 165, it is done. Serve immediately with rice, vegetables, or in a taco, burrito, salad, or bowl.

Tips to Perfect One Pot Salsa Chicken Thighs Skillet

Don’t crowd the pan: Adding too much chicken to the pan will give off too much liquid and boil the chicken instead of pan frying it, so be sure to give chicken enough room to cook and crisp.

Let thighs brown well: You want crispy, crunchy chicken crust – and you need to let chicken brown and blister at a high temperature to get that lovey, delicious crunch!

Choose the Right Skillet: Use a large, heavy-bottomed skillet that distributes heat evenly. Cast iron or a good-quality non-stick pan works best for searing the chicken and simmering the salsa without burning.

Sear the Chicken Thighs: Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture, which helps achieve a golden-brown sear. Season them generously with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices before searing in a hot skillet with a bit of oil. The sear adds depth of flavor.

Use High-Quality Salsa: The salsa is the centerpiece of this dish, so opt for a high-quality store-bought version or make your own for the best flavor. Consider the heat level and ingredients of the salsa to match your preference.

Deglaze the Pan: After removing the seared chicken thighs, deglaze the pan with a little chicken broth, lime juice, or even a splash of the salsa. This step helps lift the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, which are full of flavor.

Layer Flavors: Add minced garlic, diced onions, or bell peppers to the skillet after deglazing and sauté them until they’re soft. This builds a flavor base that will infuse the chicken with additional depth.

Simmer Gently: Once you add the chicken back into the skillet along with the salsa, ensure that the heat is low enough to maintain a gentle simmer. This prevents the chicken from drying out and allows it to soak up the salsa flavors.

Thicken the Sauce If Needed: If the salsa is too runny after the chicken is cooked, you can remove the chicken and simmer the sauce a bit longer to reduce and thicken it. Alternatively, a slurry of cornstarch and water can be added to the sauce.

Add Freshness: Before serving, stir in fresh chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, or diced fresh tomatoes to add a bright, fresh flavor that contrasts the rich and savory components of the dish.

Serve with Sides: Although it’s a one-pot meal, consider serving your salsa chicken with a side of warm tortillas, rice, or a simple green salad to round out the meal.

Experiment with Toppings: Personalize each serving with toppings like sliced avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, or chopped green onions to add texture and flavor.

FAQS

Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?

Yes, you can use chicken breasts instead of thighs, but keep in mind that breasts tend to cook faster and can become dry if overcooked. You may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

What type of salsa should I use for the recipe?

The choice of salsa can vary based on personal preference. You can use a chunky, smooth, mild, or spicy salsa. Consider the other ingredients in the salsa, like corn or black beans, for additional flavor and texture.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Yes, this dish can be made ahead of time. It reheats well and the flavors often meld and deepen when refrigerated overnight. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave.

Is it necessary to sear the chicken before adding the salsa?

Searing the chicken is recommended as it adds a depth of flavor to the dish by caramelizing the surface of the meat. However, if you’re short on time, you can skip this step, though the final dish might lack some complexity in flavor.

How can I thicken the sauce if it’s too runny?

If the sauce is too runny after cooking, remove the chicken and simmer the sauce in the skillet until it reduces to your desired consistency. Alternatively, you can mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and stir it into the sauce to thicken it.

Can I add vegetables to the skillet?

Absolutely! Adding vegetables like bell peppers, onions, zucchini, or mushrooms can make the dish more nutritious and colorful. Add them to the skillet after searing the chicken and before adding the salsa to ensure they are cooked through.

How do I know when the chicken is fully cooked?

The chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) when checked with a meat thermometer. The meat should also be opaque all the way through, and the juices should run clear.

Can I make this dish spicier?

To increase the heat, you can choose a spicier salsa, add chopped fresh or pickled jalapeños to the skillet, or include a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes when seasoning the chicken.

How can I store and reheat leftovers?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat gently in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of water to keep the chicken moist, or microwave it covered, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

chicken with salsa, cilantro, and olives on it

What to Enjoy with Salsa Chicken Thighs

Rice Varieties: White rice, brown rice, or a flavorful cilantro lime rice can absorb the delicious sauce and balance the spicy flavors of the salsa chicken.

Beans: Black beans, pinto beans, or refried beans can be a hearty and nutritious side, adding a creamy texture that complements the tangy salsa chicken.

Warm Tortillas: Soft corn or flour tortillas can be used to wrap the chicken for delicious tacos or to simply scoop up the chicken and salsa.

Quinoa or Couscous: These grains make for a lighter, yet satisfying side, and their subtle flavors won’t overpower the salsa chicken.

Roasted Vegetables: Vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, squash, and onions roasted with a bit of olive oil and seasoning can add a sweet and smoky contrast to the dish.

Salads: A crisp green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing can add a fresh and crunchy element to the meal, balancing the richness of the chicken.

Corn on the Cob: Grilled or boiled corn on the cob, seasoned with butter, salt, and a sprinkle of chili powder, can complement the flavors in the salsa chicken.

Guacamole and Chips: A side of guacamole and tortilla chips can add a creamy and crunchy texture, making for a perfect appetizer or side.

Grilled Avocado: Halved avocados grilled face down for a few minutes can become a smoky, creamy side that pairs wonderfully with the chicken.

Sweet Potato Fries: Baked or fried sweet potato fries, seasoned with a touch of cayenne pepper, can add a sweet and spicy kick that goes well with the dish.

Coleslaw: A tangy and creamy coleslaw can add a refreshing crunch, offering a palate-cleansing contrast to the spicy and savory chicken.

Fresh Salsas: Additional fresh salsas, such as pico de gallo or mango salsa, can add a burst of freshness and a new layer of flavor to the meal.

Cornbread: A slice of moist cornbread on the side can soak up the delicious salsa juices and add a comforting, homey touch.

Cheese: Sprinkling some shredded cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or queso fresco, over the hot chicken can add a gooey, melty texture.

Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt: A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt can provide a cooling effect, taming the heat from the salsa and enriching the dish’s flavors.

If you love this One Pot Salsa Chicken Thighs Skillet, you’ll love these other one pot chicken dinners that are done in under 30 minutes! Try 20 Minute Garlic Butter Chicken and Mushroom Pasta, One Pot Cheesy Chicken Taco Skillet Soup, and One Pot Bacon Garlic Chicken and Spinach Dinner.

Try these side dishes:

Click here to view all our chicken recipes!

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The Caribbean is Open and Ports are Accepting Tourists

Princess, and their parent company, the Carnival Corporation, are proud to work to help hard-hit areas in the Carribean by pledging over $10 Million in hurricane relief – and keeping the vital tourism industry thriving in the Carribean.

There has never been a better time to visit the Carribean!

To Book Your Own Princess Cruise, Click here for the best rates!

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Air fryer salsa chicken thighs.

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Chicken breasts topped with salsa and olives on a plate.
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One Pot Salsa Chicken Thighs Skillet

Quick, delicious, and easy One Pot Salsa Chicken Thighs Skillet is a sure-fire weeknight quick win for the whole family – great in tacos, salads, wraps, and fajitas, too!
Course Chicken Thighs
Cuisine Mexican Inspired
Keyword chicken, easy chicken, hispanic, mexican, one pot, spicy chicken
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 369kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs either boneless and skinless or with bone-in and skin on
  • 1 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp dried mexican oregano
  • 1 guajillo chile dried
  • 4 tbsp butter divided
  • 5 cloves garlic diced
  • 12 oz can ro-tel spicy tomatoes with lime and cilantro
  • olives to garnish
  • cilantro to garnish

Instructions

  • Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel.
  • Generously season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  • In a large skillet, melt 2tbsp butter on medium high until foamy and bubbling.
  • Add chicken thighs.
  • Let thighs crisp and brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side.
  • Season generously with oregano.
  • Add guajillo chile, 2 tbsp butter, garlic to pan, toss, and cook for 1-2 minutes until garlic is soft and fragrant.
  • Add ro-tel and stock to pan.
  • Let ro-tel and stock reduce, about 4 minutes.
  • When chicken has reached internal temp of 165, it is done.
  • Serve immediately with rice, vegetables, or in a taco, burrito, salad, or bowl.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 187mg | Sodium: 684mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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