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French Vinegar Chicken

4.88 from 57 votes

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Savory French-style vinegar chicken features bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs that braise in a tomato-based red wine vinegar sauce with shallots. This homey dish is ready to enjoy in less than an hour.

Cooked chicken thighs with bone and skin on, in a skillet with red wine vinegar sauce.

Wine vinegar chicken is a simple French-inspired dish you can make with pantry staples like red wine vinegar, shallots and tomato paste.

This tasty dish uses ingredients that are easy to find and the method is really simple to cook.

Pantry Ingredients for making chicken in red wine vinegar sauce in an enamel tray: Tomato paste, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, bay leaves and thyme.

Ingredients/shopping list

  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • Dry white wine
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic
  • Shallot
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme
  • Chicken stock or water

Seasoning skin-on chicken thighs

My favorite trick for making tasty chicken is to pre-season it with salt, often well in advance of cooking.

That means the prep involves taking chicken out of the package, sprinkling it with salt and putting it back into the refrigerator. Then forget about it for 24 hours.

Yup. Trust me, it’s totally doable. That simple step has a big impact on the outcome. Allowing the chicken to rest in the refrigerator uncovered dries out the skin, and that’s the secret to good, even browning and minimal pan-stickage.

Chicken thighs with seared, golden brown skin in a pan, in a red vinegar sauce and a serving spoon.

If you’re short on time on a busy day and want to make this recipe, you can simply skip the overnight seasoning process. Just sprinkle the chicken with salt about 15 minutes before cooking — you’ll still end up with a delicious dish, I promise!

What does vinegar do to chicken?

Chicken tastes great with any acidic ingredient – that’s probably why dishes like Greek lemon chicken are so damn good!

After searing the chicken skin until it’s nice and brown, pour in some dry white wine and vinegar along with the other ingredients. Pop the whole pan in the oven to finish cooking.

As the chicken roasts, the chicken thighs become tender and the liquid reduces just enough to make a delicious, savory sauce.

Cooked vinegar chicken thighs with bone and skin on, in a skillet with herbs and a serving spoon.

What to serve with vinegar chicken

Serve this delicious chicken with a simple salad, roasted smashed potatoes and plenty of crusty bread to soak up sauce!

Prep tips

  • Unwrap chicken from its packaging and blot the chicken skin dry with paper towels.
  • Season the chicken with salt, then let it sit uncovered for 15 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Heat your pan to temperature before adding the cooking oil and chicken.

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French Vinegar Chicken

Karen Tedesco
Savory French-style vinegar chicken features bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs that braise in a tomato-based red wine vinegar sauce with shallots. This homey dish is ready to enjoy in less than an hour.
Print Pin
4.88 from 57 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Chicken
Cuisine French
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6-8 (900 g) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) kosher salt, I recommend Diamond Kosher brand
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) finely chopped garlic
  • ½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, optional

Instructions 

  • Put the chicken thighs on a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish. Sprinkle the salt on both sides of chicken. If you have time, refrigerate the chicken, skin side up and uncovered overnight. This will season the chicken and help the skin to crisp and brown. If you're short on time, season with the salt and let it sit at room temperature 15 minutes then proceed with the recipe.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 (220C) degrees.
  • Heat a large (12-inch) wide pan with at least 2-inch sides over medium high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan, and when it shimmers add the chicken, skin side down. Cook undisturbed for 10 minutes, watching that the pan doesn’t get too hot and adjusting the heat accordingly, until the skin is a rich golden brown. Turn chicken and cook the other side 2 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.
  • Pour off all but about a teaspoon of the fat in the pan, and stir in the shallot and garlic. Cook about 30 seconds, then pour in the white wine and vinegar, scraping the pan to remove the brown bits. Add the tomato paste, mustard, thyme, bay leaves and broth. Bring to a simmer then return chicken to the pan, skin side up.
  • Transfer the pan to the oven and roast 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the chicken is cooked through. *Note: If you notice the pan juices are reducing quickly after 10-15 minutes, add up to ½ cup more liquid to the pan.
  • Sprinkle the chili over the chicken, if using, and remove the bay leaves. Serve warm with the pan juices spooned over.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • I use Diamond Kosher salt, which has a larger grain than other brands like Morton, and isn’t as salty by volume. To season the chicken with a different brand, reduce the amount of salt to 2 teaspoons.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to a week. They taste even better!

Nutrition

Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 778mg | Potassium: 435mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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37 Comments

  1. Mackenzie says:

    What adjustments would I make if I wanted to substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of the thighs?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi MacKenzie – Here’s what I suggest to modify with four boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Season the chicken lightly with 1/2-1 teaspoon salt and fresh black pepper – you can skip the refrigeration and proceed to step 2. Brown the chicken about 5 minutes on each side, then proceed to step 4. Note that you probably won’t have much fat in the pan to pour off, so you can skip that step too. In step 5, adjust the roasting time to 15-20 minutes. The chicken will cook faster without skin and bones, and you don’t want to dry out the breast meat. Let us know how it turns out!