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French Onion Chicken and Orzo Skillet

french onion chicken

French onion chicken and orzo will turn your soup-course favorite into a hearty and delicious weeknight one-pan meal!

What is better than a bowl of French onion soup, with the melted cheese creeping down the side of the crock, toasted crouton soaking up the buttery, beefy, delicious broth and all of those caramelized onions?

Nothing. The answer is nothing.

French onion soup is flat-out delicious, and the perfect example of how time and technique can create something amazing out of humble beginnings. Beef broth, onions, stale bread and a bit of cheese are transformed into a bowl of perfection with a little time and heat. It’s just beautiful.

Filling as a meal, though? Not so much. With this recipe, we’re going to take all of those flavors and create a chicken and pasta dinner that’s all cooked in one pan. With a little make-ahead magic, this meal is going to be perfect for weeknight cooking. And topped with Gruyere cheese? Yup. Happy, happy stuff.

Ingredient Notes

  • Chicken – The chicken will be seared and cooked in the skillet, so a boneless and skinless cut works best and saves time. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but chicken breasts will work just as well.
  • Onions – Regular yellow onions work perfectly, peeled, sliced and cooked down until they’re caramelized.
  • White wine – For deglazing the fond from the bottom of the pan. If you can’t, or prefer to avoid, cooking with any kind of alcohol, you can definitely use water or additional beef broth.
  • Orzo pasta – or any other small pasta shape will do. Ditalini is a good choice if you don’t have orzo.
  • Beef broth/stock – either homemade or store-bought is fine. In the grocery store, look for low-sodium beef broth. Regular is really salty. You can always add more salt, you can’t take it out.
  • Cheese – I like gruyere. It melts well, it’s traditional for French Onion Soup, and it’s delicious. Swiss (emmentaler) cheese is also a great choice, even mozzarella will work. Just something that’s going to melt well and get all brown and bubbly.

How to Make French Onion Chicken and Orzo Skillet

Cook the Chicken

  • Pat your chicken dry. Wet chicken won’t brown. It steams, and that doesn’t give you good color or texture on the outside. It also doesn’t develop fond, which is the tasty brown stuff on the bottom of the pan.
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Cook in your skillet with olive oil until browned on both sides and fully cooked through. This should take 3-4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your chicken.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Caramelize the Onions

caramelized onion
  • Peel and slice onions.
  • Melt butter in the skillet and add onions and a pinch of salt. The salt helps the onions to drop some of their water content and encourages browning.
  • Cook onions over low heat, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes. **This is your make-ahead tip!** Caramelize onions in big batches on a weekend afternoon and freeze them! So many uses, including this recipe. For more on cooking onions, check our our All About Cooking Onions post, which will explain this process in detail for you.
  • Leaving the onions in the pan, pour in the white wine to deglaze the fond from the bottom of the pan. There’s a ton of flavor there that you want in your finished dish.
  • See how the yummy brown bits have dissolved into the wine and onions? That’s what you’re looking for. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the wine has reduced down to almost none.

Cook the orzo

  • Once nearly all of the wine has evaporated, add in the orzo pasta, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth.
  • Cover the skillet and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 12-13 minutes until the pasta is cooked to your preference.
  • If your pan starts to run dry before the pasta is fully cooked, add additional beef broth.
  • If your pasta is cooked but there still seems to be a lot of broth left, cook uncovered to reduce.
  • Stir in about 2/3 of your shredded cheese, a small handful at a time, until it is fully melted into the pasta. Adding cheese into the pasta gives it great flavor, and since cheese is a binding agent, will thicken the French onion “sauce” that you’ve created.

Let’s put it all together

  • Slice your chicken and place on top of the cooked pasta.
  • Top the chicken and pasta with the remaining 1/3 of the shredded cheese.
french onion chicken and orzo
  • Place the skillet under the broiler for 3-4 minutes until the cheese melts and gets brown and bubbly. Check on it frequently, cheese can burn in there in the blink of an eye!

I hope you enjoy this recipe, it’s a big hit in our house! Super-flavorful, cheesy and hearty, it’s a great weeknight dinner.

French Onion Chicken and Orzo Skillet

Course: Chicken, Fall, Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipe, WinterCuisine: American, French
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

35

minutes

French onion chicken and orzo will turn your soup-course favorite into a hearty and delicious weeknight one-pan meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or thin-sliced breasts

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 3 tbsp butter

  • 3 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced

  • 1/2 cup white wine, or additional beef broth

  • 1 1/2 cup orzo pasta

  • 3 cups beef broth, low-sodium

  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 6 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese, divided

Directions

  • Chicken
  • Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Place in skillet with olive oil and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through.
  • Set aside.
  • Onions
  • Melt butter in skillet and add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook over low-medium heat for 40-45 minutes (see note 1) until caramelized.
  • Deglaze the pan with white wine or beef broth, scraping up browned bits of fond from the bottom of the skillet. Allow the wine to reduce down to almost nothing.
  • Orzo
  • Add orzo pasta, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste to the skillet.
  • Cook, covered, 12-13 minutes until pasta is done to your preference.
  • Stir 2/3 of the shredded Gruyere cheese into the pasta, one small handful at a time until fully melted and incorporated.
  • Final Assembly
  • Slice cooked chicken and lay on top of the orzo pasta.
  • Top with remaining 1/3 of the shredded Gruyere cheese.
  • Place under the broiler, monitoring frequently, for 34 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Notes

  • Caramelizing onions in batches and freezing them will remove this step and save a ton of time! See our All About Cooking Onions post for details.

I love to see what you’re cooking. Tag me at #jessiescozykitchen or @jessiescozykitchen on Facebook and Instagram!

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