Roasted Apricot Chicken

Roasted Apricot Chicken is my take on an old homemaker’s recipe that typically consists of chicken roasted in a sauce of apricot preserves and store-bought Thousand Island dressing. The old version is warming, sticky, and downright delicious. However, since I’m not a huge fan of preservative-laden store-bought dressings, I endeavored to try a version with a homemade Thousand Island and it turned out phenomenal! I enjoy this chicken served over rice, couscous, or roasted cauliflower, and it never disappoints!

Ingredients needed to make Roasted Apricot Chicken

Since we’re making our own dressing here (which is, of course, optional) the ingredient list is a bit lengthier than usual. It’s nothing you can’t handle, I promise. To make the actual chicken, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs and drumsticks (bone-in, skin-on)
  • Apricot jam
  • Thousand Island dressing (homemade, or store-bought)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil, for greasing

The ingredients in my homemade version of Thousand Island dressing are likely ones you already have in your pantry or fridge, which is a plus. Trust me here, it’s SO much better than store-bought ones. It’s tangier, a little spicy, and just so much more well-rounded in flavor. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sour cream OR plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Ketchup
  • Juice from a jar of dill pickles
  • Hot sauce (I love this locally made one)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Roasted Apricot Chicken

In stark contrast to the ingredients list, you don’t need that many kitchen tools to make this delicious Roasted Apricot Chicken! To start, you will need a cutting board and chef’s knife to chop up all that delicious fresh parsley for both the dressing and the garnish. In addition, you’ll need the following:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large cast-iron skillet (at least 12 inches in diameter) OR 9x13in baking dish
  • Whisk
  • Lemon juicer (optional, but handy, and this is the BEST one EVER)

That’s it! Let’s get to cooking!

How to make Roasted Apricot Chicken

The process to make this Roasted Apricot Chicken could not be simpler. You start by combining all of the ingredients for the Thousand Island dressing in a mixing bowl. Make sure you use one that is large enough to add the apricot jam to once the dressing is finished, so you don’t have to dirty another bowl. If you aren’t using homemade Thousand Island, you can skip that step.

Once your dressing is made, add the apricot jam and whisk to combine. Pour the entire mixture over the chicken and place in the oven. The sauce will be thick to start, but thins out as the chicken cooks and releases its yummy juices. Once the chicken is cooked through, I like to let it go under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the tops of the chicken.

Garnish the whole thing with more fresh parsley, and serve with sides of your choice! I love spooning all that luscious sauce over steamed rice, couscous, quinoa, or roasted cauliflower. It’s so tasty!

Looking for other mouth-watering chicken recipes?

Try these other recipes by The Ardent Cook!

Red Curry Pulled Chicken with Turmeric-Lime Rice

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

Quick(er) Chicken Shawarma with White Sauce

Chicken with Nectarines and Crispy Prosciutto

Crispy Cast-Iron Chicken Thighs with Black Pepper Gravy

Recipe Ingredients

For the Roasted Apricot Chicken

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks, patted dry 

1 10oz jar apricot jam

2 cups Thousand Island dressing (homemade or store-bought)

Parsley, for serving

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

¾ cup sour-cream or plain, full-fat Greek yogurt

½ cup ketchup

⅛ cup dill pickle juice (from a jar of store-bought dill pickles)

2 tbsp + 1 tsp hot sauce, such as Frank’s 

¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Juice of ½ lemon (about 2 tbsp)

Small handful (approx. 3 tbsp) fresh parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large cast-iron skillet OR glass baking dish (at least 9×13, but larger will work).
  2. Make the thousand-island dressing, if not using store-bought. Add all dressing ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Taste for salt and pepper, and season accordingly. Add apricot jam and whisk again until combined.
  3. Add the chicken to the skillet or baking dish, skin side up, and pour sauce all over.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Once the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, place under the broiler for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the skin has browned. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice with parsley and enjoy!

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Crispy Cast-Iron Chicken Thighs with Black Pepper Gravy

Happy Sunday everyone! If you live in the PA/NJ area, you’ve had rain this entire weekend like I have. Major bummer. Especially during a shelter-in-place. Luckily, this has given me all the time to perfect this comfort-food staple: Crispy Cast-Iron Chicken Thighs with Black Pepper Gravy!

Guys, I’m going to preach for a second right now, so I apologize. If you haven’t bought bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, you are literally not living your life to the fullest extent. I get it, some people are afraid of bones in their meat, or maybe you think that eating chicken skin is going to break your diet. Listen- it’s not. The flavor imparted when you cook chicken with its bones is comparable to NOTHING. It’s seriously so good.

Besides just the flavor, you’re doing a disservice to the animal when you buy boneless, skinless anything. In the era of climate change, meat consumption must be done responsibly, and one of the ways you can do that is by consuming ALL parts of the animals you buy. Save the bones from your chicken, freeze them, and use them to make bone broth (instead of paying $10 for a small container pre-made, you can literally make your own for pennies). I’ll do another blog post on bone-broth at a later date, but there are tons of recipes for that online. You really only need some spare bones, vegetable scraps, water, and a crock pot. It’s that simple. Anyways, thanks for listening to my rant. If I haven’t sold you already, also keep in mind that bone-in meat is always cheaper. So that’s another selling point.

Now back to the recipe. The crispy skin on these bad boys is the perfect compliment to the creamy gravy. A little crunch, a little saltiness, and smooth gravy…. Wow. If you want to make this gravy dairy-free, you could sub a non-dairy milk of your choice or just omit the milk and use double the chicken stock. It’s really flexible. The only important part is the flour to butter ratio, which allows the sauce to thicken. If you’re doubling this recipe, or want more/less gravy, just remember that you need 1 tablespoon fat (chicken drippings, butter, or oil) to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of liquid. That ratio can be altered up or down depending on your needs.

A little note on the infamous meat thermometer: you need one. Go on Amazon right now, order a basic instant read meat thermometer, and thank me later. It takes all of the guess work out of cooking meat, and ensures perfectly moist chicken every time. Plus, I use them in almost all of my recipes involving meat, so you’ll want to have it on hand if you plan on making anything else from me in the future. A general rule of thumb for poultry is to cook until the bird reaches 165 degrees at the deepest part, however you can often get away with cooking to about 155-160 and letting the meat rest for 10 minutes or so, covered. In the case of this recipe, we don’t want to cover our chicken thighs because the skin will lose its crispiness, so I’m recommending you cook them to the full 165 (because we won’t let them rest covered, which would normally allow them to come to the full temperature). If you ever have questions about this, or about anything at all, feel free to DM me on instagram or leave a comment here.

This chicken is delicious served on its own, or paired with roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or my Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits. Whatever you decide to serve them with, make sure you take photos and tag me on instagram @theardentcook. I hope you enjoy this classic, comforting recipe! Thanks for stopping by!

For the Chicken Thighs

4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

1 TBSP high-temperature cooking fat 

½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp (a few good turns) fresh cracked black pepper

¼ tsp salt 

For the Gravy

2 TBSP reserved pan drippings

2 TBSP whole wheat flour

1 cup chicken broth 

1 cup milk (can be made dairy free)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a paper towel, pat chicken thighs dry and season all over with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder.
  2. Place a cast-iron skillet over medium heat to get hot and add cooking oil of your choice. Once hot, place chicken thighs, skin side down, in the skillet with some room in between them.
  3. Cook chicken thighs on the stove for approximately 10 minutes, rotating your pan every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Transfer skillet to the oven, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, remove skillet from the oven and flip chicken thighs over so the skin side is up. Check to ensure the skin is evenly browned (if the skin needs a few more minutes to achieve browning, you may cook them skin side down for a few additional minutes in the oven). Return skillet to the oven and continue cooking, skin side up, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the deepest part, near the bone.
  5. Place chicken thighs on a plate to rest. DO NOT cover chicken, as this will cause the chicken to steam and ruin the crispiness of the skin.
  6. Carefully discard all pan drippings except for 2 tablespoons. Place skillet back on the stove over medium-low heat, keeping in mind that the handles will still be hot. To the pan drippings, add flour and whisk to combine, creating a roux. Allow roux to brown for a minute or so, watching carefully not to burn it.
  7. Add milk and whisk to combine. There may be some clumping of the roux, but this will dissipate once the milk reaches the same temperature as the skillet. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  8. Repeat this process with the chicken stock, adding little by little until all of the liquid is incorporated and the gravy is thick and glossy.
  9. Add fresh-cracked black pepper and salt to taste.
  10. Plate gravy and chicken thighs, and serve alongside roasted vegetables for a complete meal. For an extra win, make a batch of my Sour Cream & Cheddar Biscuits to scoop up that extra gravy. Enjoy!