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Southern Smothered Chicken

A comforting classic, this easy Southern Smothered Chicken features fall-off-the-bone chicken thighs in a savory skillet gravy, seasoned to perfection.

Southern Smothered Chicken

What You’ll Need

To make this recipe, you just need a handful of pantry staples like oil, onion, bouillon, herbs, and spices. Plus the chicken, of course! Let’s dig in and take a closer look at each ingredient.

For the Chicken:

Bone-In Chicken: This recipe makes about 2 pounds of chicken thighs. You could also make it with drumsticks.

Flour: All-purpose flour is seasoned up and used to dredge the chicken before frying.

Onion Powder and Garlic Powder: The recipe gets so much flavor from just these two handy spices, you guys!

Poultry Seasoning: This versatile herb blend is a combination of several different flavors, but if you don’t have it on hand, try just mixing some sage, thyme, and a little bit of rosemary.

Paprika: Paprika adds a nice earthy sweetness, plus a pretty color when cooked.

For the Gravy:

Oil: I use vegetable oil, but you could use any high-heat oil you like, or a combination of oil and bacon grease.

Onion: Any red, yellow, white, or sweet onion will do.

Bouillon: A teaspoon or cube of bouillon is an easy way to add plenty of flavor to your gravy mixture. You can leave it out, if you prefer, and just add salt.

Pepper: Make sure to use plenty of pepper! It really adds oomph to this creamy chicken gravy.

Garlic Powder: Because, yum.

Broth: While some people make their gravy with water, I like to use chicken broth for extra flavor.

Milk: You can also use half-and-half or even cream.

Parsley: Optional! It makes a pretty garnish, and adds a nice herbal note.

How to Make Southern Smothered Chicken

1. To make this creamy chicken, you’ll first need to fry the chicken pieces to get a nice color and start creating flavor due to the cooked, seasoned dredging mixture. From there, you’ll create a skillet gravy, and cook the fried chicken in that gravy for an even more flavorful dish.

2. Dredge the Chicken in Seasoned Flour. First, make your seasoned flour by whisking the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and paprika in a large bowl. Reserve about three tablespoons of this mixture for later, setting it aside in a small dish or baggie. Completely coat the chicken in the remaining mixture.

3. Fry the Chicken. Pour your oil into a large, deep pan. Turn the heat to medium. Once the oil is hot, carefully lay the chicken pieces into the oil. You can use tongs to get a little distance between yourself and the oil, if you like! Make sure not to overcrowd the pan; cook the chicken in batches, if necessary. Fry the chicken until brown on both sides, but not necessarily cooked through (because it will continue to cook in the gravy later on).

4. Make the Roux. Take the browned chicken pieces out of the pan, but leave the oil. Set the chicken aside on a covered plate. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes or so, or until the onion is golden-brown. Next, add the reserved seasoned flour and whisk to combine.

5. Add the Seasonings and Broth. Now, whisk in the bouillon, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chicken broth. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes. Make sure there are no lumps- except the onions. You can whisk the mixture to remove lumps, and crush any stubborn lumps with a fork (or remove them).

6. Add the Milk. Whisk in the milk, again making sure there are no lumps. Bring the gravy to a boil, and allow it to cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

7. Add the Chicken. Turn the heat to medium, and return the chicken to the pan, covering it with the gravy. Cover the pan, and cook the chicken for about 30 mintues, turning the chicken pieces occasionally for even cooking.

8. Serve. Garnish the dish with parsley, and serve warm.

Tips for Success

There are a lot of tweaks and substitutes you can make in a recipe like this, so I’ve collected a few of the most common right here! Read on, and happy cooking!

1. Chicken Substitute: This recipe can easily be made with boneless chicken, chicken breasts, and even pork chops. You may need to adjust the cooking time depending on the size and thickness of the meat you use.

2. Dairy-Free Version: You can easily make this recipe dairy-free by using your favorite unsweetened alternative milk.

3. Add Bacon: Using bacon grease instead of some (or all!) of the oil is a great idea in this recipe. You can also garnish it with crisply cooked diced bacon. Seriously yummy!


For the Chicken

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs and/or drumsticks above five pieces
  • 1 ⅓ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

For the Gravy

  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon or one cube
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • Parsley optional, for garnish


1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and paprika. Remove 3 Tablespoons of this seasoned flour from the bowl and reserve this for later.

2. Completely coat each piece of chicken in the large bowl of flour mixture.

3. Place the vegetable oil into a large deep pan. Turn the heat to medium. Add the coated pieces of chicken. (If your pan is too crowded, it is better to cook in batches.)

4. Fry the chicken until it is browned on all sides. (It does not need to be cooked through at this point because we will be cooking it again later.)

5. Once the chicken is brown, remove it from the pan but leave the oil in the pan.

6. Next, add the onion to the pan and fry it until golden (it should take about 5 minutes).

7. Add the reserved 3 Tablespoons of seasoned flour to the pan. Whisk it with the oil.

8. Then whisk in the chicken bouillon, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chicken broth. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes. Make sure there are no lumps- except the onions.

9. Next, whisk in the milk, again making sure there are no lumps. Bring this mixture to a boil and allow it to cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

10. Add the chicken back to the pan. Make sure that it is coated with the gravy. Be sure the heat is medium. Cover the pan and allow it to cook for 30 minutes more. (Turn the chicken occasionally.)

Garnish with parsley and serve

Serving Suggestions

To serve smothered chicken, I recommend including rice, potatoes, or some other item that will go well with gravy! From there, a veggie or two is nice—whether it’s a simple green salad.