Braised chicken stewed with tomatoes, rosemary and aromatic spices is an amazingly delicious one-pot recipe. So easy, quick to make, this is a favorite weeknight meal. The combination of aromas in this dish is truly fantastic!
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Chicken Braised with Tomatoes, Rosemary and Spices
This braised chicken recipe is different than most other recipes in that category. It uses readily available simple ingredients, but has an unusual flavor profile. The fabulous taste of this chicken dish comes from the combination of rosemary, eastern spices and lots of tomatoes.
Rosemary is widely used in southern European and mediterranean recipes, but typically not cooked with many spices. Here we combine the fragrant rosemary with warm eastern spices and it works so well.
And we use a popular but easy cooking technique - braising - to make this recipe as we did for our braised lamb shanks. It is a moist heat cooking method, by which the chicken is first seared and then stewed with some liquid slowly at a low temperature. This results in a very flavorful and juicy chicken stew.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutes
Here are some useful notes about the ingredients.
- Chicken: I prefer to use bone-in chicken thighs for good flavor. Chicken breast will work but the meat will not be as tender. I used skinless chicken thighs, but you can also use skin-on chicken thighs or leg quarters.
- Chicken Leg Quarters With Skin: If these are seared at a high temperature in a cast iron cookware and then stewed, it enhances the flavor and makes an amazing looking dish. Read recipe FAQs below to learn more about cooking with chicken skin.
- Tomatoes: Try roma tomatoes and not the very juicy variety. These tomatoes will soften and stew into a thicker sauce, with a few of them holding some shape. You can use drained canned whole tomatoes.
- Rosemary: Fresh herbs would be the best. To use dried herbs, the ratio is 1 teaspoon dried herb for 1 tablespoon fresh herb. You can substitute thyme or basil for a variation.
- Garlic: We need lots of fresh garlic. You can also roast a whole bulb of garlic in the oven, squeeze out the pulp and use that for a change.
- Tomato Paste: This gives a smooth consistency to the stew and intensifies the tomato and umami flavor.
- Chili peppers: I use mild peppers such as shishito peppers, for flavor but not too much heat. Other options are cubanelles, banana peppers and poblanos. If you like it hot, try jalapeños, cayenne or serrano pepper (even more hot).
- Spice Blend: The options are mild eastern mediterranean or middle eastern spice mixes such as baharat spice or advieh (Persian spice blend). Most curry powders are too intense, but a mild version will be fine. Use only a small amount.
How to Make Spicy Braised Chicken
**Brief overview below. Full recipe with ingredient amounts is at the end of post.
- Saute onions until translucent and slightly caramelized. Add garlic and stir.
- Sear the chicken until golden brown.
- Then add tomatoes and cook until soft.
- Add spices, tomato paste, rosemary, chili peppers and salt. Stir to combine well and simmer until chicken is fork tender.
- Adjust the seasonings. Garnish with herbs and serve the tomato chicken immediately.
- Make sure that the chicken pieces are about the same size so they can cook evenly in the same time.
- It is important to sear the chicken very well at high temperature and quickly. Brown the surface only and don't cook the inside.
- The preferred spice blend to use would be a mix from the eastern Mediterranean region or the middle east.
- Do not add too much liquid to cook the stew. Because we are braising the chicken and not poaching it. We only need some liquid to cook it into a stew with a thick flavorful sauce.
Best Cookware To Use
- Cast iron brasier, dutch oven or casserole dish would be the best to use for this braised chicken.
- It reaches a high heat quickly to get that nice sear on the surface, without cooking the inside. So it seals the flavor and juices.
- And it retains heat very well, so you can stew the chicken slowly at low heat until it is tender and juicy.
What to Serve with Braised Tomato Chicken
- With Rice, pasta, breads: rice dishes, barbari bread
- Lower Carb: With squash puree, cauliflower rice.
- Sides: Carrot salad or roasted vegetables (lower the spice).
How To Store
Refrigerate this braised tomato chicken for 4 to 5 days and freeze for up to 3 months in freezer safe container. Thaw and reheat at medium low heat, adding a sprinkle of water.
This tomato chicken stew is gluten free, low carb, high protein, dairy free, nut free, egg free and soy free.
- Baked With Skin-on Chicken Leg Quarters: Arrange the seared chicken leg quarters, making sure to submerge most of the meat part in the tomato sauce, with the skin exposed. Then bake it at 400 degrees F, with the skin exposed, until the chicken skin on the top turns brown and crisp.
- Flavor Variation: Add olives and/or potatoes to the stew.
Yes, you can retain the skin while cooking this stew. It will add more flavor and may keep the chicken more moist when searing it. Most of the fat in chicken skin is unsaturated, which is considered healthier. However, to lower the fat content you can try to remove some of the fat from under the skin and then sear it.
Yes, you can. After searing the chicken, sautéing the onions and adding the remaining ingredients, transfer the stew to the oven and bake at 375 degrees F. If you cook it uncovered, the skin on top will turn brown and crisp.
An herb indigenous to the Mediterranean and popularly used in Italian, French and Spanish cuisine, rosemary is not just about its intense and fragrant aroma. It has amazing health and medicinal benefits.
Rosemary has substances that can stimulate the immune system, circulation and improve digestion. It has compounds that can increase the blood flow to the brain, thereby improving the concentration. Widely used in traditional medicine, this has been known as the herb of remembrance. There are studies that reveal the potential therapeutic benefit of rosemary for Alzheimer's disease.
Most of the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic activities, and neuroprotective effects of this herb plant are attributed to the abietane-type phenolic diterpenes, which are considered the most important group of compounds that have been isolated from the plant.
Research studies have indicated that constituents of Rosemary - Rosmanol, cirsimaritin and salvigenin have demonstrated antidepressant, antinociceptive (reduction in sensitivity to pain), and anxiolytic (reduction in anxiety) effects.
More Stew Recipes
- Ghormeh Sabzi Recipe (Persian herb stew)
- Fesenjan (Persian Stew with Chicken, Pomegranate and Walnuts)
- Zucchini Stew with Chicken (Khoresh Kadoo)
- Nihari (Indian Beef Shank Stew)
★ DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? PLEASE COMMENT AND GIVE IT A STAR RATING BELOW!
Braised Chicken With Tomatoes and Rosemary
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lbs chicken thighs or leg quarters, bone-in, with or without skin, pat dry, see note
- 1 large onion peeled, quartered and sliced, 2 cups
- 6 cloves garlic grated
- 2½ lbs chopped roma tomatoes not juicy variety, quartered
- 1 teaspoon mild mixed spice blend baharat spice or advieh, see note for sub
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 mild chili peppers I used shishito peppers, see note
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust per taste
- Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
- Lemon Slices
- Pat the chicken thighs with paper towels. Season chicken with some salt and pepper on both sides.
- In a cast iron dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil at medium high. Add the sliced onion and sauté until translucent and slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Then add the grated garlic and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute.
- Push the sauteed onions to the edge of the pot. Drizzle remaining olive oil. Raise the heat to high and arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer. Quickly sear the chicken on both sides at high heat, until golden brown, about 3 minutes each side.
- Tip: It is important to brown the chicken only on the surface and don't cook the inside.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add all the spices, tomato paste, rosemary, chili peppers and salt. Stir to combine well and raise the heat. When the sauce starts to bubble, cover with a lid, lower the heat and simmer until chicken is fork tender, stirring in between, about 45 minutes.
- The tomatoes will thicken and some oil will trickle to the surface. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Tip: Add couple tablespoons water if the stew sticks to the bottom of the pot and this varies with the type of cookware used.
- Garnish with more fresh herbs. Serve immediately with rice, bread and salad.
- Chicken: I prefer to use bone-in chicken thighs for good flavor. Chicken breast will work but the meat will not be as tender. I used skinless chicken thighs, but you can also use skin-on chicken thighs or leg quarters. Read recipe FAQs above to learn more about cooking with chicken skin.
- Fresh herbs to dried herbs ratio: 1 teaspoon dried herb for 1 tablespoon fresh herb.
- Storage: Refrigerate for 4 to 5 days and freeze for up to 3 months in freezer safe container. Thaw and reheat at medium low heat, adding a sprinkle of water.
- Crock Pot: Sear the chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper. Then saute the onions. Transfer chicken, onions and rest of the ingredients to a crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 5-6 hours.
- Check blog post above for more tips, ingredient substitutes, variations, how to store, recipe FAQs, etc.
More Chicken Recipes
This post was first published on April 9th, 2016 and has been updated with improvements in pictures, tips, FAQs and additional enhancements.