Have your martini and eat it too with this Martini Chicken! Juicy bone-in chicken thighs are cooked martini-style in a vermouth-infused onion sauce. Finished with loads of parsley, torn Castelvetrano olives, a dash of gin and some fresh lemon—this Chicken Martini has all the flavors you love of a stiff martini, served hot, with couscous and a twist!
Why You’ll Love Martini Chicken
If you’re in the market for a chicken dish that delivers on big, salty, briny flavor, then you’re in the right place! This dish has a few steps—and the prep of the pearl onions can be somewhat tedious—but all-in-all it’s a very easy dish to make.
Aside from cooking couscous in a second pan, this is a one-pot dinner. It’s elegant enough for company and versatile enough to earn it’s place in your regular rotation of dinner recipes.
- Olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper: three pantry staples!
- Lemon: you’ll need one lemon and the recipe will use the zest and the juice.
- Rosemary: grab one bunch of rosemary or 1 package. You’ll need two sprigs plus 1 tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary.
- Chicken thighs: grab a package of 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. You should have about 2 pounds total.
- White pearl onions: find pearl onions near the large onions and potatoes. They usually are sold in mesh bags in 10 or 12 ounces. I like to use white pear onions, but yellow will also work. If you don’t want to deal with the prep work of pearl onions, you can use 1 ½ cups chopped white onion.
- Garlic: fresh is best! You’ll need 4 large cloves of garlic—sounds like a lot, but we’re slicing it—instead of mincing or chopping—so it’ll be more mild.
- Vermouth: use an extra-dry vermouth—something cheap, don’t break the bank here. I use Martini & Rossi Vermouth.
- Gin: this is an optional addition but I find it drives home the martini flavor profile. Just 2 tablespoons are added towards the end of cooking. Use whatever gin you have on hand and enjoy.
- Parsley: you’ll need one bunch of parsley. Seek out Italian flat-leaf parsley instead of curly parsley for the best flavor and texture.
- Olives: pitted Castelvetrano olives is what you’re looking for here. Grab a 12-ounce jar. Frescatrano olives are also fabulous here.
- Couscous: I like to serve the chicken and olive “salad” over couscous, though any small pasta, rice or mashed celery root potatoes will work.
- Cocktail onions: the final pièce de résistance of this dish is mixing some chopped cocktail onions (pickled pearl onions) into the couscous. They add a bright pop of flavor that nicely balances out all the savoriness of the chicken, onions, garlic and olives. Use leftover cocktail onions in a dirty martini for an extra punch (I also love them in an NA Martini).
How to Make Martini Chicken
- Fry the lemon peels and rosemary in olive oil until browned and crisp. Transfer the peels and rosemary to a paper-towel-lined plate and allow to cool. Once cool, roughly chop them—the mixture will be used as a crunchy herby finish for the dish.
- Brown the chicken thighs in the hot lemon- and rosemary-infused oil. Once browned on both sides, transfer the chicken thighs to a plate or sheet pan and set aside. They will not be cooked through at this point.
- Cook the pearl onions and minced rosemary in the hot oil until starting to brown. It’s key to allow the onions to cook, without stirring, for about 4 minutes to achieve that color. Stir in the sliced garlic and cook for about a minute or so until fragrant.
- Deglaze the pot with vermouth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Nestle the browned chicken thighs back into the pot, cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, but not touching a bone, registers 172ºF. This will take about 15 minutes—and be sure to flip the thighs halfway through cooking.
- While the chicken cooks, cook the couscous. Once cooked, stir in the chopped cocktail onions, onion brine and olive oil. Then season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
- To serve, transfer the couscous to a large serving bowl or platter. Arrange the chicken thighs over top. Add gin to the pot with the onions and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, olives and lemon juice.
- Spoon the olive mixture over the chicken thighs and sprinkle the fried lemon and rosemary over top. Enjoy!
Pro Tips for Making Martini Chicken
- Reserve this recipe for a weekend where you have a bit more extra time to prep ingredients. Prepping pearl onions can be a bear, but they are well worth it in this recipe!
- Cheap olives are cheap for a reason. Seek out quality olives for the best results.
- I do not recommend making this with boneless chicken thighs. The bones keep the meat nice and juicy. If you don’t want to deal with the skin, you can remove the skin from the thighs before cooking, but I’d recommend skipping the browning of the chicken and instead increase the covered cooking time.
This is an all-in-one meal, but in order to serve 4 you may want to add a side dish.
- A simple Butter Lettuce Salad is a great pairing. It’s bright, fresh and won’t steal the show (though she still shines bright).
- Garden Salad, aka kitchen sink salad, aka it’s-got-everything-in-it-salad.
- Add a dose of sweetness with a fruit Salad. A Grape Salad or Citrus Salad is great in the winter while a Strawberry Salad is perfect for summer.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 2 sprigs rosemary + 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
- 4 Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (2 pounds)
- Kosher salt
- 10 ounces white pearl onions, halved root to stem and peeled (or 1 ½ cups chopped white onion)
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- ¾ cup dry vermouth
- 2 tablespoons gin
- 1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 (12-ounce) jar pitted Castelvetrano olives, torn in half (1 heaping cup)
Cocktail Onion Couscous
- ¾ cup dry couscous
- ½ cup chopped cocktail onions + splash brine
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel five 3-inch strips of lemon peel, making sure to avoid white pith; reserve lemon for later. Add lemon peels and 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large pot.
- Heat oil over medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until lemon peels start to curl and edges start to toast, about 3 minutes. Add 2 sprigs rosemary and continue to cook until lemon peels are lightly browned and rosemary is fried, 3–4 minutes more (the peels should look on the verge of burning around the edges and you should get a faint whiff of fruitiness).
- Remove pot from heat and, using tongs, transfer lemon peels and rosemary to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside to cool. Once cool, finely chop fried peels and rosemary; reserve for garnish.
- Season 4 chicken thighs liberally with kosher salt.
- Place pot back over medium-high heat and place chicken, skin side down in oil and cook, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until browned on second side, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
- Add 10 ounces halved and peeled pearl onions and 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary to drippings in now-empty pot, season with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and toss to coat in drippings. Cook, without moving, until onions start to brown, 3–4 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium and stir in 4 sliced cloves garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until garlic is golden brown and fragrant, about 1 ½ minutes.
- Deglaze pot with ¾ cup dry vermouth, scraping up any browned bits from pan, then return chicken back to pot, cover and cook until chicken reaches 172ºF on an instant-read thermometer, 12–15 minutes, flipping chicken over halfway through.
Cocktail Onion Couscous
- Meanwhile, add ¾ cup couscous to a saucepan over medium heat and cook, shaking occasionally, until starting to toast, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil, then cover, remove from heat, and let cook 10 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed.
- Add ½ cup chopped cocktail onions, a splash of cocktail onion brine, 2 teaspoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt; season to taste with black pepper.
- Transfer couscous to a large serving bowl or platter. Arrange chicken thighs over top. Add 2 tablespoons gin to pot with onions; cook until reduced, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, juice lemon.
- Stir 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 bunch chopped parsley, and 1 heaping cup torn olives into onion mixture.
- Spoon onion-olive mixture over and around chicken. Sprinkle chopped fried lemon peel and rosemary over top.
More Chicken Thigh Recipes to Try
Enjoy the classic flavors of Chicken Marbella in a fraction of the time with my one-pan version.
Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs lay the flavor groundwork for my Chicken and Rice Soup.
Looking to fire up the grill? Make my Chimichurri Chicken—delicious with bone-on or boneless chicken thighs.