Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Creole Style Smothered Chicken

Creole Style Smothered Chicken

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5 from 2 votes
An easy one-pan recipe for Creole Style Smothered Chicken with a whole chicken in a sauce of tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, and onions.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Creole Style Smothered Chicken presented on a large serving platter.

You’ll love making this easy, one-pan recipe for Creole Style Smothered Chicken. A whole butterflied chicken is cooked with a simple creole sauce made of peppers, onions, celery, and tomatoes that are cooked down and thickened to pour over the chicken. A great comforting dinner any night of the week!

This southern classic is one of my favorite recipes to make and is a staple in our kitchen. Who wouldn’t want a serving of tender, juicy chicken topped with flavorful homemade Creole sauce? It’s the perfect meal to serve with a side of rice or green vegetables making it well-rounded and satisfying.

Creole Style Smothered Chicken presented on a large serving platter.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • The entire recipe including the chicken and Creole sauce is cooked right in one skillet saving you clean up time.
  • It’s a dish that’s comforting and hearty as a Sunday dinner or to serve on any weeknight.
  • The weight of the skillet helps seal in the moisture and tenderness of the chicken while keeping the skin nice and crispy.
  • The Creole sauce is made with the “holy trinity” of bell peppers, celery, and onion along with tomatoes and seasonings.
  • It’s budget-friendly and very easy to make.
  • It pairs well with almost any side dish including rice, beans, or a fresh green salad.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Whole chicken (you’ll need a chicken that weighs about 4 pounds or one that fits into your skillet with overcrowding)
  • Salt and pepper (to season the chicken and infuse flavor into the meat)
  • Butter (you’ll use butter to sear the chicken to create a crispy skin texture)
  • The Holy Trinity (the basis for many Creole recipes; it consists of equal parts onion, celery, and bell pepper)
  • Garlic (infuses the sauce with its flavor)
  • Salt and pepper (to balance the flavors in the sauce)
  • Dried thyme (adds a fresh herbal flavor)
  • Flour (used to thicken the sauce)
  • Canned tomatoes (be sure to save the juice to add volume and richness to the sauce)
  • Green onions (used as a garnish for color and a light oniony flavor)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Creole Style Smothered Chicken

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

What is a Butterflied (Spatchcocked) Chicken?

A butterflied, or spatchcocked, chicken is one with the backbone removed completely. This allows the chicken to lie completely flat in the pan. Doing this reduces the cooking time by creating a uniform thickness. It’s a simple process to do yourself, or ask the butcher in the grocery store to do it for you. They’re happy to take care of it at no extra cost in most places.

To butterfly (or spatchcock) a chicken:

  1. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut down both sides of the backbone from one end to the other and remove it completely.
  2. Open up the chicken and place it skin side up on a cutting board. Press down on the breastbone until the bone cracks and chicken flattens out. Tuck the wing tips under the breast.
  3. The last step is to make a shallow cut between the leg and thigh. Why? Well, that’s usually the last part to cook through and making a little cut there will help the dark pieces to cook at about the same time as the lighter pieces.

For photos of the process visit my Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Chicken recipe post.

Choose a skillet large enough to hold the butterflied chicken without crowding, preferably a well-seasoned black iron skillet. The one I used here measures 12 inches.

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A whole spatchcocked chicken in a large cast iron skillet.
STEP 1.

STEP 1. Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat, then add the chicken skin side down.

Smaller skillet with cans as weights on top of chicken in larger skillet.
STEP 2.

STEP 2. Cover the chicken with a heavy plate or a smaller skillet that will fit inside the cooking skillet (In the photo I’ve used a 10-inch skillet to weight the chicken). Weight the plate or skillet with several heavy cans. You need about 5 pounds of weight. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 25 minutes or until the skin is nicely browned.

Browned chicken resting on a plate.
STEP 3.

STEP 3. When the chicken has browned, remove it to a plate and set it aside.

Vegetables cooking in iron skillet on left; tomatoes added on right.
STEPS 4 & 5.

STEP 4. Without cleaning the skillet, add the onion, celery, green pepper, garlic, salt, black pepper, and thyme. Cook and stir the vegetables until they’re wilted and the onion is becoming translucent.

STEP 5. Sprinkle the cooked vegetables with flour and stir until well blended. Add the tomatoes with their juice. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.

Chicken on top of sauce in skillet (left); Weighted with cans (right.
STEPS 6 & 7.

STEP 6. Return the chicken to the pan with the browned side up on top of the sauce.

STEP 7. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover again with the plate or smaller skillet and weights. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160F.

Creole sauce reducing in cast iron skillet.
STEP 8.

STEP 8. Remove the chicken to a serving platter. Increase the heat slightly and cook the sauce briefly until thickened.

STEP 9. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the chopped green onions.

Creole Style Smothered Chicken presented on a large serving platter.
Pin This Recipe for Later

Recipe Tips

  • It’s possible to use chicken pieces or chicken quarters but I think it’s actually easier to use a whole chicken.
  • Be sure to use enough weight and place it so that the chicken is pressed down evenly against the surface of the skillet. This ensures that it cooks evenly.
  • Larger chickens will require more cooking time and larger skillets. For best results choose a chicken that is no larger than 4 pounds and use a meat thermometer to ensure that it has reached 165 degrees (F) internally in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
  • Searing the chicken in butter before cooking it in the sauce adds loads of flavor. Don’t be tempted to skip that step!

Storing and Freezing

Storing: Store the chicken and sauce in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat using the microwave or in a skillet until warmed through.

Freezing: You can store the chicken and sauce separately in freezer containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and serving.

FAQs

Is Creole food spicy?

Sometimes it is, but it doesn’t have to be! You can control the level of spice by adding your desired amount of cayenne pepper or red chili flakes to the sauce. You’ll note that this recipe as written doesn’t contain anything spicy at all. Feel free to add some heat if you like.

What’s the difference between Creole and Cajun cuisine?

Cajun foods typically use quite a bit more warm spices such as cayenne. Creole tends to lean more toward herbal flavors of thyme, oregano, and, of course, the trinity of bell pepper, celery, and onions.

What does “Creole” mean?

Creole generally refers to people of mixed colonial French, African American, and/or Native American ancestry, usually residing in Louisiana.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love for you to give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card and/or in the comments section further down. You can always stay in touch on social media by following me on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest and Sign Up to Get my Newsletter, too!

Creole Style Smothered Chicken presented on a large serving platter.

Creole Style Smothered Chicken

An easy one-pan recipe for Creole Style Smothered Chicken with a whole chicken in a sauce of tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, and onions.
5 from 2 votes
Print It Rate It Text It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 294kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 4 pound whole chicken butterflied
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 14.5 ounces canned tomatoes with their juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Instructions

  • Choose a skillet large enough to hold the butterflied chicken without crowding. A well-seasoned black iron skillet is preferable.
  • Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat, then add the chicken skin side down.
  • Cover the chicken with a heavy plate or a smaller skillet that will fit inside the cooking skillet (I'm using a 10-inch smaller skillet in the photo). Weight the plate or skillet with several heavy cans. You need about 5 pounds of weight. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 25 minutes or until the skin is nicely browned.
  • When the chicken has browned, remove it to a plate and set aside.
  • Without cleaning the skillet, add the onion, celery, green pepper, garlic, salt, black pepper, and thyme. Cook while stirring until the vegetables are wilted.
  • Sprinkle the cooked vegetables with flour and stir until well blended. Add the tomatoes with their juice. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Return the chicken to the pan with the browned side up on top of the sauce.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover with the plate or smaller skillet and weights. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160F.
  • Remove the chicken to a serving platter. Increase the heat slightly and cook the sauce briefly until thickened.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the chopped green onions.

Notes

Recipe Tips
  • Chicken pieces or chicken quarters may be used.
  • Be sure to use enough weight and place it so that the chicken is pressed down evenly against the surface of the skillet.
  • Larger chickens will require more cooking time and larger skillets. For best results choose a chicken that is no larger than 4 pounds and use a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken has reached 165 degrees (F) internally in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
  • Searing the chicken in butter before cooking it in the sauce adds loads of flavor. Don’t be tempted to skip that step!
Storing and Freezing
Storing: Store the chicken and sauce in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat using the microwave or in a skillet until warmed through.
Freezing: You can store the chicken and sauce separately in freezer containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and serving.
FAQs
Is creole food spicy? Sometimes it is, but it doesn’t have to be! You can control the level of spice by adding your desired amount of cayenne pepper or red chili flakes to the sauce. You’ll note that the recipe as written doesn’t contain anything spicy at all. Feel free to add some heat if you like.
What’s the difference between Creole and Cajun cuisine? Cajun foods typically use quite a bit more warm spices such as cayenne. Creole tends to lean more toward herbal flavors of thyme, oregano, and, of course, the trinity of bell pepper, celery, and onions.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 324mg | Potassium: 438mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 468IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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35 Comments

  1. Dis NewOrleans boy livin in nyc , is gunna make did tonight for dinner .. I have been thing about chicken & red gravey like my mamma made for weeks now ! Can not Wait ! #WHODAT

  2. What a fun dinner party. I pinned several of the choices. This chicken dish is the highlight of the bunch as far as I am concerned.

  3. This looks incredible! I’ve actually never had anything like this. Thanks for hosting!

  4. I love the whole virtual progressive dinner idea. Your main course sounds amazing, Lana. Love the sound of that creole sauce.

    1. Thanks, Renee! We all had such fun putting on this progressive dinner. I’m already looking forward to next month.

  5. Thanks so much for hosting this month and introducing me to Southern food! I had no idea what to expect with this chicken, but it looks so amazing!

    1. I’m always happy to introduce people to or amazing southern cuisine, Lauren. And – your watermelon lemonade was the perfect complimentary beverage for this menu!

  6. This sounds wonderful and will definitely try some of it.
    But I’m having a problem getting the recipe for the Soup. The page comes up very narrow and almost impossible to read- is it just me?

  7. I love doing butterflied chicken on the grill, but I haven’t done it in a skillet. And that sauce looks fantastic. Need to try this!

  8. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you for coming up with this theme. It has opened a world of endless delicious possibilities for me. I am learning a lot about Southern food.

    1. I’m very happy to introduce you to just one little aspect of southern food, Ansh. We have so many different cuisines in the south and all of them are interesting. Creole is one of my favorites.

  9. I knew I could count on you Lana…something beautiful and delicious and yet a bit unexpected. Sounds totally wonderful and I can’t wait to try it!

    1. It’s one of my favorite old, classic, southern recipes, Barb, and I am very happy to share it with others through our new progressive dinners series. I’m on my way over to your blog to see the recipe for that delicious creamed corn!

  10. Gosh, I love love love the idea of a progressive dinner but in the land of the Internet and Food Blogs…genius idea! This smothered chicken looks downright sinful!

    1. We really enjoyed doing the progressive dinner, Mallory, and are already looking forward to next month’s! Hope you keep following along.

  11. Love, love, love this idea!! And love that chicken recipe!! Ready to go for a swim in that sauce right now!! YUM!!

  12. Oh this chicken Creole is fantastic! And I love your cooking method and want to try it all! Wow this looks so delicious! Thanks for a first great theme, Lana!

    1. You’re welcome, Jamie, and thanks to everyone for allowing me to host. I’m off now to read your post and save the recipe for your spectacular salad!

  13. I could not be more thrilled with our inaugural theme, Lana! And this dish is a crowning glory! That sauce, ah. =)

  14. Lana, thanks so much for hosting this terrific Southern dinner today! Your smothered chicken sounds spectacular…and will have to give it a try once the weather cools down!

  15. Oh. My. Goodness. I cannot WAIT to dive into this and make it for The Artist! Lana, you have certainly come up with the penultimate main course for our Southern Progressive Supper. Brava!

    1. It’s definitely a southern classic and I was happy to present it for the first in our new series!

  16. I love the idea of a blogger progressive dinner! And this is the perfect entree… The whole menu sounds pretty delicious :)