This fall comfort food is as cozy as it gets. Melted cheddar, sweet apples and fresh thyme are stuffed in chicken thighs and then baked to perfection in a creamy garlic sauce. When only the most decadent meal will do, you need these cheddar-apple stuffed chicken thighs.
After just one bite, I knew I had something special with this recipe. That perfectly crisp skin, that melted cheddar on top of soft apple and fresh thyme. Oh, and that luscious, creamy sauce.
When it all came together, it was so dang good that I had to close my eyes and take a moment to savor that cheesy, creamy goodness. I served these stuffed chicken thighs over jasmine rice, which soaked up that delicious sauce. Sigh. Just thinking about that meal makes me wish I was enjoying a big bowl right now.
Besides its inherent deliciousness, I love this recipe for company because any kind of stuffed meat sounds extra fancy. Anyone can make chicken thighs but stuffed chicken thighs? Woah! Impressive, right?
The truth is these cheddar-apple stuffed chicken thighs couldn't be simpler to prepare, but that can be our little secret.
Ready to make some stuffed chicken thighs? Here's everything we need.
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- Poultry seasoning
- Fresh thyme
- Heavy cream
- Chicken stock
How to Make
To start, let's first prepare our filling. We dice an apple and cook it in butter until it softens. While the apple cooks, we shred our cheddar and add some fresh thyme leaves.
For the cheddar, I definitely recommend freshly grating from a block of cheese. Preshredded cheese comes with a dusty coating to keep the individual strands from sticking in the bag, so it doesn't melt as well. Always go with freshly grated cheese.
Once our apples cook, we can mix everything together, and our stuffing is now ready.
From here, we can start on our chicken. To ensure we get perfectly crisp skin, we give our chicken a good seasoning rub and then cook in a hot skillet skin-side down.
After several minutes, our chicken skin will have a delicious crust, and then we flip it and cook on the other side to get the cooking process going.
How to Stuff Chicken Thighs
Now we're ready to stuff, which is surprisingly simple. We gently lift the crisp chicken skin and place a mound of our filling underneath. And that's it. Our chicken is now stuffed.
See? Totally easy.
While I try my best to keep the skin intact when stuffing, don't stress if a side disconnects from the chicken. Just thread a toothpick into the skin and chicken, and you'll be fine.
How to Make Creamy Garlic Sauce
With our chicken stuffed, we can go ahead and make our creamy garlic sauce. We start by cooking together some melted butter and flour to make a roux, which gives our sauce the perfect thickness. After a couple minutes, we add some garlic and then heavy cream, chicken stock and salt.
We add our chicken back to the skillet and bring the sauce to a simmer. Our chicken is now ready to go in the oven to finish cooking, and then we're ready to dig in to some serious fall comfort food.
If you're looking for a beer pairing, you'll love a biere de garde with these cheddar-apple stuffed chicken thighs. Biere de garde is a great match with so many chicken dishes, especially when fresh herbs are involved.
For a wine pairing, I love a chardonnay with a touch of oak. The buttery notes from the chardonnay are the perfect complement to the creamy garlic sauce, and chardonnay plays well with the sweet apple.
When you need an impressive yet cozy meal, I hope you try these cheddar-apple stuffed chicken thighs. Please let me know how you enjoyed this recipe in the comment section and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. You can also catch me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
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Cheddar-Apple Stuffed Chicken Thighs
- Cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- ½ cup diced and peeled Fuji apple
- Leaves from 10 fresh thyme sprigs plus more for garnish if desired
- ½ cup freshly grated cheddar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt divided
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 garlic cloves minced or grated
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ lemon juiced
- Cooked rice for serving
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Cook the diced apple until softened, about five minutes. Remove from the skillet and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Mix together the grated cheddar, thyme leaves and cooled apples. Set aside.
- Pat the chicken thigh skin dry with a paper towel. Rub 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper and the poultry season all over the four chicken thighs.
- If the skillet is too dry, add a little more butter. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the chicken thighs skin-side down. Cook until the skin browns, about seven minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for another five minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and wipe out the chicken drippings.
- When the chicken is cool enough to handle, gently lift the chicken skin and stuff with the cheddar, apple and thyme mixture. Try to keep the skin attached to the chicken, but if it does break, simply secure the skin with toothpicks.
- For the creamy garlic sauce, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and continuously whisk for about two minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Slowly pour in the chicken stock and heavy cream and add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Whisk until it smooths out. Add the chicken back to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
- Place in the oven and bake until the chicken cooks through, the juices run clear and registers 165 degrees, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir lemon juice into the cream sauce. If desired, garnish with additional fresh thyme sprigs. Serve over rice. Enjoy!
- If you don't have a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, you can pour the creamy garlic sauce into a baking dish, place the chicken in the sauce and then bake.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.