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Smothered Chicken and Rice

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Our smothered chicken recipe features fall-off-the-bone tender thighs simmered in rich brown gravy and spooned over a bed of fluffy white rice. Smothered chicken and rice is an irresistible southern soul food classic that’s perfect for Sunday dinner!

smothered chicken recipe

This smothered chicken recipe is the quintessential soul food classic, offering tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken thighs simmered in a homemade brown gravy and served over white rice.

A reminder of cherished Sunday dinners at grandma’s, it was always either fried chicken or smothered chicken with rice or mashed potatoes. This recipe embodies the essence of Southern comfort cooking and remains a staple in the heart of Southern cuisine. Perfect for any day of the week, it’s a comforting, flavor-packed dish that brings warmth and nostalgia to the table.

Our smothered chicken recipe is not only a family favorite, but also happens to be Marrekus’ mom’s and his grandma’s recipe. Growing up, he used to watch them make smothered chicken thighs all the time for Sunday dinner alongside boiled cabbage or collard greens. Smothered chicken with rice is a timeless dish that reminds him of his home in the South.

What is Smothered Chicken?

Smothered chicken is a popular Southern comfort soul food dish that consists of braised chicken cooked in brown gravy. It’s often served over rice or mashed potatoes.

The gravy is usually made with a combination of ingredients like butter, flour, onion, stock, and pan drippings. The key to our smothered chicken recipe is the slow and gentle cooking process, allowing the meat to become tender and absorb the flavors of the gravy.

smothered chicken thighs

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil
  • 6 cups cooked white rice

Brown Gravy

  • drippings (flavorful juices and fat that collect at the bottom of a pan or dish while cooking)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably unsalted

What type of chicken should I use?

We prefer smothered chicken thighs. Specifically, bone-in, skin-on thighs because they yield moist, tender, and flavorful meat. You can also use drumsticks or wings.

Boneless thighs or breasts are considered kid-friendly and preferred by picky eaters. Just keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the cut of meat you choose.

If you enjoy this smothered chicken recipe you will also love these Southern Oxtails featuring oxtails smothered in brown gravy over rice.

What are drippings?

What remains in the pot after cooking meat or poultry is called drippings, flavorful juices and fat that collect at the bottom of a pan or dish. These juices are a combination of meat juices, melted fat, and any seasonings or marinades that were used during cooking. Drippings are often used to make gravy or sauce to accompany the cooked meat.

smothered chicken gravy cabbage biscuits

How to Make Smothered Chicken Thighs

Step 1: Season the Chicken

First things first, grab a large Dutch oven or a trusty cast iron skillet and heat it on the stove over medium-high.

While it’s heating up, grab and bowl and mix together salt, pepper, granulated onion, granulated garlic, lemon pepper, chili powder, and cayenne pepper for that gentle kick. Generously coat your chicken, making sure to get some of the seasoning under the skin.

Step 2: Brown in the Pan

Carefully pour in some cooking oil and use tongs to gently lay down the seasoned thighs. Let them sear on both sides until they’re lightly golden brown. This takes about 6 minutes or so, but keep an eye on them. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set over a sheet pan lined with paper towels.

Step 3: Cook in Brown Gravy

Now, let’s talk about that gravy (see “How to make a roux for brown gravy” below). Bring it to a boil, then take those thighs you seared earlier and put them back into the pot. Lower the heat and let the chicken and gravy simmer together for 1 hour, or until the thighs are tender and cooked through. Give it a stir every so often.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

Transfer smothered chicken thighs onto plates, and ladle more of that rich, flavorful gravy on top. Serve it with a side of white rice, or mashed potatoes, ready to soak up all that goodness. You can also pair it with your favorite Southern side dishes like mashed potatoes, collard greens, or mac and cheese.

Transfer any leftover smothered chicken to an airtight container or a covered dish. Place the container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

How to Make a Roux for Brown Gravy

Make a quick and easy brown gravy with drippings, butter, onion, all-purpose flour, chicken bouillon powder, and chicken stock.

After transferring the chicken to a wire rack, add butter to your Dutch oven or skillet with the drippings and use it to sauté the onions until softened and translucent.

Then, gradually stir flour into the onion, butter, and dripping mixture. Slowly pour in stock and whisk until the gravy is nice and smooth.

Don’t forget to taste for seasoning and adjust with a little more bouillon powder if needed.

Tip: The secret to smooth gravy is whisking vigorously in a circular motion!

How to Serve Smothered Chicken

Carefully place the smothered chicken thighs on serving plates or a platter, ensuring each piece is generously coated with extra brown gravy. Serve alongside your favorite Southern sides.

Here are some of our favorite dishes that go best with our smothered chicken recipe:

  • White Rice: White rice is a classic accompaniment for smothered chicken. The rice soaks up the flavorful gravy, creating a delicious combination.
  • Collard Greens: Cooked collard greens, seasoned with smoky ham hocks or bacon, provide a healthy and flavorful side dish.
  • Cabbage: Tender, buttery cabbage is another great option.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are a comforting option to serve alongside smothered chicken thighs. They offer a smooth and buttery contrast to the bold flavors of the chicken and gravy.
  • Macaroni and Cheese: This classic Southern comfort food pairs perfectly.
  • Black-Eyed Peas: Seasoned black-eyed peas are a nutritious and hearty choice.
  • Biscuits: Flaky and buttery biscuits are a delightful side to scoop up every bit of that brown gravy.
  • Cornbread: Our soul food cornbread recipe is easy to follow and yields a moist, tender crumb. It combines the rich tang of buttermilk with classic ingredients like butter and sugar for a delightful side dish that complements any Southern meal.
  • Sweet Potato Cornbread: This sweet potato cornbread is perfectly moist and flavorful, made with fresh, mashed sweet potatoes, a touch of cinnamon, and the magic of beaten egg whites. Topped with a luscious coat of melted butter for the ultimate Sunday dinner companion.

Commonly Asked Questions

What type of pot or pan should I use for this smothered chicken recipe?

An enameled cast iron Dutch oven or cast iron skillet is best for smothered chicken thighs.

How do I prevent chicken thighs from sticking to the bottom of the pan?

Adding oil to a pre-heated Dutch oven or cast iron skillet should minimize sticking.

What consistency should gravy be?

The gravy should be smooth and have some body to it.

Try this: Use a metal spoon to scoop up some gravy, then run your finger along the back of the spoon. If there is a completely clean line, that means it’s perfect consistency. 

The gravy should not be so thick that it doesn’t easily pour, and not so thin that it’s runny.

Have you tried our delicious Southern Smothered Chicken recipe? Share your thoughts in the comments below! If you’re snapping pics or shooting videos of your culinary masterpiece, be sure to tag us at @cookswithsoul on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok! We can’t wait to see and share your incredible creations with our community.

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Smothered Chicken and Rice

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main course, dinner
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, soul food

Description

Our smothered chicken recipe features fall-off-the-bone tender chicken thighs smothered in rich brown gravy and spooned over a bed of white rice. Smothered chicken with rice is an irresistible southern soul food classic that’s perfect for Sunday dinner!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably unsalted
  • 6 cups cooked white rice


Instructions

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat; alternatively, you can use a cast iron skillet.
  2. Mix salt, pepper, granulated onion, granulated garlic, lemon pepper, chili powder, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Season chicken on all sides with seasoning mixture, making sure to pull back the skin to season the meat.
  4. Pour oil into the pre-heated Dutch oven. 
  5. Brown chicken on both sides, about 6 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.
  6. Add butter and sliced onions to the Dutch oven and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, scraping any food stuck to the bottom as needed. 
  7. Sauté onions until softened and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Gradually add flour and bouillon powder, and stir until well-mixed with the onions and butter.
  9. Add stock and whisk vigorously until a smooth gravy forms. Taste for seasoning and adjust with more bouillon if needed.
  10. Bring gravy to a low boil and return the thighs back to the Dutch oven.
  11. Cover and reduce heat to low. 
  12. Simmer chicken in the gravy for 1 hour, or until thighs are tender and cooked through; stir occasionally.
  13. Plate thighs with a scoop of cooked rice and spoon extra gravy on top; serve immediately.

Keywords: smothered chicken, chicken thighs, rice

24 Comments

  1. This recipe is too good! I am for sure going to be making this over and over, thank you so much for sharing! It’s one of my husband’s new favorite dinners now 🙂

  2. Nothing like a good Grandmother recipe and this smothered chicken and gravy is sure to be my new favorite Sunday dinner recipe. So hearty, comforting, and delicious!

  3. I grew up on recipes like this. It’s such comfort food and just so ‘homey’. I love the flavors of this and seriously, every single thing about it!

  4. I’m always searching for a good chicken recipe, and your southern smothered chicken is calling my name. Thanks for sharing!

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