Creamy Garlic Chicken with Thyme
The best creamy garlic chicken, ready in 30 minutes! This recipe delivers tender chicken breasts nestled in a mouth-watering garlic cream sauce. Round out the flavors with lightly caramelized onions and fragrant thyme for an irresistible yet easy dinner.
You can never have too many quick and easy dinner recipes up your sleeve, and this creamy garlic chicken is destined to be a go-to. Tender chicken, a rich cream sauce, woodsy thyme, and all the garlic. Not raw, pungent, in-your-face garlic. Let’s be honest, no one loves that. But soft, mellow garlic flavor woven into the sauce and mixed with onions, herbs, and a bit of lemon? Yes. That’s what we’re after here.
This recipe is a decadent, garlicky spin on our popular lemon thyme chicken. Herbs and citrus do a wonderful job of transforming that weeknight workhorse, the chicken breast, into a dish worth coveting. So the same combination is called into action again, this time complemented by a few additional stars: onions, garlic, and cream.
Creamy garlic chicken: ingredients
This is a perfect example of how simple, everyday ingredients can make the most outstanding meals. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chicken breasts – the boneless, skinless variety. Now, a standard chicken breast might be an inch or more thick, which is generally not likely to cook evenly and well in skillet recipes like this. You’ll want to slice them straight in half through the middle, so if you start with two thick pieces, you’ll then have four thin ones. Bonus – you may only need to buy two chicken breasts to feed a small family, or to have dinner and leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
- Yellow onion – use about 1/2 of a medium onion. You can stash the rest in the fridge, or chop and freeze it, to use another day.
- Garlic – obviously! You’ll need about a dozen cloves, so just buy a whole head if you need it.
- Chicken broth.
- Thyme and parsley. You can used dried in a pinch but fresh is really lovely here, worth picking up if you’re at the store.
- Staples – salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil, butter.
But can we talk about the garlic?
You might be concerned about using so much garlic in a single dish. Trust. Cooking whole cloves like this imparts a very different flavor than you’d get from frying this much minced garlic. It will be mellow and rich and delicious.
I admit that I’ve taken recently to buying peeled garlic, because I’m lazy like that. But if you’re looking for a quick hack to peel a lot of garlic quickly, this video is fun to watch!
How to make garlic chicken: tips and tricks
The other thing to love about this recipe is that it’s made in one skillet and takes just about 30 minutes, start-to-finish. No complicated prep.
You’ll lightly season and sauté the chicken breasts, transfer them to a plate, then prepare the sauce right in the same skillet. This not only reduces the clean-up burden, but also ensures the sauce has maximal flavor, because it incorporates all the delicious browned bits left from cooking the chicken.
A few more tips for making this perfectly, the first time and every time:
- If you can, let your chicken sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before you start. Removing the chill helps it to cook more evenly.
- Use an instant read thermometer* to take the guesswork out of knowing when your chicken is cooked. Such a tiny investment for a lifetime of perfectly-cooked, tender chicken, without the hassle of slicing into each piece.
- Pay attention to the portion of the directions that indicates when to reduce the heat from medium-high, to medium, to medium-low. This is important to ensure the sauce thickens but doesn’t seize up, particularly when incorporating the cream at the end. I like to make this in my trusty 12-inch stainless skillet*; you can also use a cast iron pan, just be extra sure to reduce the temperature, because cast iron retains heat exceptionally well!
- If you have an open bottle and feel frisky, pour a splash of white wine into the sauce along with the chicken broth, lemon juice, and thyme. It will add one more element to the sauce!
- If you want to save time but still make the finished dish look nice, use dried thyme in the sauce and a few sprigs of fresh for the garnish. Easy, delicious, and beautiful, best of all worlds.
Enjoy! If you make this Creamy Garlic Chicken or any other recipe from Nourish and Fete, please rate it and leave a comment below. We love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!
Creamy Garlic Chicken with Thyme
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
- 12-15 whole cloves peeled garlic
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- fresh thyme, parsley, and lemon wedges, for garnish optional
- Slice each chicken breast in half lengthwise so you have 4 thin pieces. Sprinkle both sides of each piece lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Warm the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until it forms a nice golden crust and is cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Using the back of a knife, smash half of the garlic cloves, then add both the smashed and whole cloves to the pan with the onions. Cook 2-3 minutes more, until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned on the outside, then add chicken broth, lemon juice, and thyme. Scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze any browned bits, and let the sauce simmer for about 4 minutes. It should be noticeably reduced.
- Reduce heat again to medium-low, then stir in the cream. Return chicken to the skillet and let everything simmer gently for 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors. Garnish with fresh thyme and parsley, lemon wedges, and a little more black pepper, as desired. Serve and enjoy!