This juicy and delicious chicken recipe is made with just three main ingredients: 100% pure organic apple juice, chicken thighs, and salt! It's an easy meal that everyone will love, and it has been a family favorite for years.
You have to try this recipe. Overall, it's my highest rated, most popular recipe, period.
Our whole family loves it, and what's even funnier is that it came to be by accident!
In the past, I would poach chicken in apple juice to give it more flavor and tenderize it a bit. One time, however, I left it on the burner a tad too long, and it reduced down to create today's delicious hit!
Apple juice chicken, as we have lovingly named it, is an extremely simple recipe that includes chicken thighs and apple juice.
The apple juice creates a flavorful, thick, and syrupy sauce that coats and infuses the chicken thighs.
It almost tastes like a teriyaki sauce without the soy or sugar!
100% organic apple juice - Because apples are on the dirty dozen list, it is best to buy organic apple juice. Make sure apples are the only ingredient!
Chicken thighs - I believe some readers have used breasts, but thigh meat really adds good flavor to the recipe (and they're cheaper!).
Salt and pepper - I like the apple juice to be the primary flavor, so I typically only use salt and pep for flavor, but the pepper is even optional. You could also use red pepper flakes, which add a nice kick of heat!
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How to make the best chicken thighs
Begin by heating the apple juice in a 10-inch stainless pan. Once it begins to bubble, add in the chicken, along with some salt and pepper.
Bring it to a low boil, then lower it to a bubbly simmer. Cook the chicken, covered, for 15 minutes.
Flip the chicken, then cook for 15 more minutes, leaving the lid only partially on. This will allow the juice to begin reducing.
Flip the chicken again and partially cover it. It will continue to reduce, ultimately yielding a syrup-like consistency.
What does it taste like?
The chicken is so rich and flavorful, and the cooking process yields an almost fall-apart texture.
The reduced apple juice creates a delicious, sweet sauce that is reminiscent of something you might order from a Chinese food restaurant!
How to serve chicken thighs
We like to pair this with a veggie-packed salad and, occasionally, some fresh bread with olive oil for dipping.
It would also go very well with this Mushroom Brown Rice Pilaf or a Fast Baked Sweet Potato.
Some other pairing ideas include:
Do NOT use a non-stick pan for this recipe! I use a stainless steel pan that is about 10 inches wide, and 2-3 inches deep.
A good rule of thumb here is 1/4 cup of apple juice per 1/4 pound of chicken.
Use only UNFILTERED, 100% ORGANIC apple juice.
Please enjoy the video below showing you exactly how to make this recipe!
Stove Top Chicken Thighs (Apple Juice Chicken)
- 1 ½ cups 100% unfiltered apple juice preferably organic
- 1 ½ pounds (about 6-7 medium) chicken thighs boneless and skinless
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a deep pan over medium heat.
- Add the juice first and bring to a low boil.
- Add in the chicken and sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.
- Lower everything to a bubbling simmer and cover the pan, cooking for 15 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over.
- Partially cover the pan and cook for another 15 minutes. It should be bubbling the whole time, but not spilling or 'spitting'.
- Pop the lid up so that a significant amount of steam can escape, allowing the apple juice to reduce down and thicken (the heat should still be high enough that the juice is bubbling softly).
- Cook for another 10-15 minutes, partially covered, until the juice is thick and syrupy, flipping the chicken every 10 minutes or so.
- Watch it closely for the last 2-3 minutes, as it can burn quickly.
- Remove from heat once the chicken is cooked through and the juice resembles honey in consistency.
If you have a chance to try this recipe, please leave a star rating and a comment below letting me know how you liked it!
Could orange juice replace the apple juice?
I was just wondering the same because I currently only have orange juice at home. An old comment from Pam on January 15, 2014 confirmed it had worked with orange juice. My thought is that the flavor will be a little bit different (thickened orange sauce versus thickened apple sauce). If you do try it, please let us know Beaux!
I believe another comment said that she used orange juice and it worked, so if you enjoy the flavor, it seems possible! Orange chicken! 🙂
Absolutely love this! I just searched for a recipe to use up apple juice and I can't believe how delicious and tender it was. My chicken thighs were boneless so I didn't leave them in as long and just used a thermometer. Thanks!
Thanks, Lynne! This is one of our favorites, so I'm happy you enjoyed it too!
I love this recipe and have used it many of times! Do you think this would work in an instant pot?
Thanks, Chanelle! I haven't tried the IP yet. My slow cooker version did NOT turn out well though, so my thought is that the chicken needs air to reduce down to the syrupy sauce.
Good stuff!! I had lots of leftover organic apple juice (not unfiltered) I needed to use up. I found your recipe and decided to give it a try. I followed everything but did not try to get the sauce down to a sticky honey (it didn't seem to want to get there) and I pulled the chicken out after 45 minutes to rest and just let the sauce do its thing for 5 more minutes. Both my husband and I really liked this and I will make it again. Thanks for this great recipe.
There are brands of apple juice fortified with vitamins, but that isn't enough for some. One registered dietitian says that if the juice wasn't healthy initially, adding vitamins isn't the way to make it a healthy alternative.
Thank you for the amazing recipe and also thanks for the video.
I honestly didn’t read all the comments so someone may have already said this but I use Apple Cider Juice and this turned out amazing! Just thought I would put that idea on here Incase anyone wanted to change it up. Thanks!
This idea is great! Just finished up making this recipe. I threw some dried rosemary and half a shallot into the pot with the apple juice, and the chicken turned out beautifully! The juice didn't seem to be thickening up so well, so I heated up some butter and flour in another pot and then transferred the liquid there to heat up and thicken. Worked like a charm! Will have to try this again!
Thanks, Lauren! If you watch the video, you'll see exactly how it becomes thick and what pan to use to get the right consistency. 🙂
The size and shape of the pan is what is important. I use a nonstick pan and it works great.
May I know why Non-Stick Pan cannot be used? I only have non-stick pan at home but I would like to try this recipe...
I've never tried using one, but with the way the recipe works in condensing down, I don't think a non-stick pan would have the same effect.
Yum! This was a great recipe and so easy to make. The written directions were clear and the step-by-step video was the icing on the cake. I made this for my parents and my mom, the chef in the family, was making sure that I send this recipe to her!
Yay, I'm so happy you enjoyed it Sue!
I love this recipe and make it often. I'm wondering if you think it would work for pork chops? I have some in the fridge I need to use up. My only fear is that they might get tough- maybe I'll remove them and let the sauce reduce on it's own. Thoughts?
I'm not sure about pork chops, as they're quite a bit lower in fat, which is what I think really adds to flavor. If you try and have success, let me know!
It's fantastic with pork chops! I told my mom about the chicken and she immediately tried pork chops. My family agrees it's better than the chicken which we also love.
This recipe was a waste of time. I specifically purchased high quality, organic apple juice. I followed the directions exactly (as per instructions, I did NOT use a non-stick pan) and after almost 1 1/2 hours, the juice was evaporating NOT reducing and the chicken was bordering on drying out. I did see a number of folks had the same issue with the juice not reducing. I'm not sure what kind of magic spell you cast you your apple juice but this recipe is going in the trash.
Sorry you had trouble Sue. I know how frustrating it can be to have a recipe not work out. In contrast to the few that have had trouble, many people have had success with this recipe, hence its popularity on my site. If you watch and follow the video, it should turn out for you.
I just watched the video - might I suggest that you add/change the directions slightly to emphasize/state that the apple juice should be vigorously bubbling during the final 10-20 minutes? That it was I saw your demonstration doing yet the recipe calls for a simmer. I will give it another try - thanks!
Can you cook this in a crock pot?
I don't know, sorry!
You wouldn't be able to set it and walk away for six hours. The "lid off" part is crucial.
Most crock pots heat from the side, so it probably wouldn't work. But if your pot has bottom heat, you could use it like an electric skillet as long as you're monitoring.
We tried it in a slow cooker and it definitely did not turn out the same way. It was edible and fine, but not great. Because slow cookers tend to add moisture, it resulted in a watery texture. The juice doesn’t reduce down. I would definitely recommend not doing the slow cooker way.
However, I will be making this tonight the correct way! So excited.
I tried this once in a slow cooker as well and got a similar result, womp womp. I hope you tried (and liked!) it the correct way! 🙂
OMG I am so excited I had to write a review!!! ( I never write I just read them lol). I was a lil scared to try this bcuz of all the reviews that didn't work, but I got it on the first try!! and I followed the recipe exactly except I used less chicken in case it didn't come out good lol, I saw it getting all sticky and I got so excited I started jumping, then I tasted it and started running around the house letting everyone taste it lol.
P.S. I was so excited bcuz I have a new found love for baking and cooking lol and this boosted my confidence. TY
Haha, that's awesome Justeen, your comment just made my day! 🙂
I LOVE this recipe!!!!!!!!!
I tried this tonight and the juice took way too long to thicken, so I took the chicken out and served it. It WAS tender and delicious, but I would have liked to serve it with sauce!
I left the sauce in the pan and let it thicken, then put it on the leftovers. We'll have it with the sauce tomorrow.
Thanks for your feedback Donna. The sauce does take some time to reduce, but it is worth the wait! You can try speeding up the process by giving the chicken more cook time without the lid or increasing your heat (just be sure your chicken is cooked through!).
I love this recipes
I've made this recipe a few times now and it used to come out awesome. I'm wondering, what kind of stove do you have? It came out perfect every time at my last place, using a gas stove. Now I'm using a cruddy apartment electric stove and, no matter what juice I use, it reduces to the point of evaporation, rather than concentrating into a syrup. It's a real bummer, cus I miss this recipe!
I have an electric stove (I've actually never tried it on a gas stove). I'm not sure what's happening! Maybe your heat is too high? I hope you can get it to work again!
Hmm, thank you for your response. I notice. Other people have had trouble so I wonder what the factor is that is causing failure here. I wish I recalled what brand of juice I used to use.
I've used multiple brands myself, but they're always organic, 100% unfiltered apple juice. Is yours cloudy or clear? Maybe the 'unfiltered' kind is the key?
The problem may be with the chicken and not the juice. Some chicken is brined, others not. A brined chicken can have quite a bit of water added to it. It makes the chicken juicier and tender. But it also means that the meat will release more water into the pan during cooking. I brine whole turkey and have noticed that I get more pan drippings with brined than unbrined. With brined chicken, I have more liquid that needs to be cooked off during the cooking process of most recipes..
By accident recipes are the best and I have one going up on the blog soon. This is something that sounds easy to make and budget friendly too.
Sounds really good. I thnk I am going to try it out in the slow cooker. Has anyone tried it in the slow cooker yet?
I didn't have much luck with this recipe. The apple juice just didn't boil down that much and I left it cooking over an hour. Not much taste either. What else are you adding to increase the flavor?? Next time I just may use 3/4 cup juice. I even had extra thighs, but it just didn't look like yours and had alot of liquidy sauce!
Sorry you had trouble, if you had it on for over an hour, I would say your stove temp wasn't high enough or that the chicken wasn't exposed to enough air. The idea behind this recipe is universal, in that heating any liquid reduces it, (and in this case, makes a thick sauce) so it will eventually work!
Hello!made it today, so easy and tasty!
We're the chicken thighs boneless? Or just skinless?
Both, though you can keep the bone in if you like. 🙂
I made this tonight and while mine didn't reduce quite as well as yours did it was super tasty. Even the SUPER picky kid ate it! Thank you 😀
That's great Jennifer, I'm happy you and your little one enjoyed it!
Hi, I have made this a couple of times exactly as the recipe dictates and it is delicious. I experimented recently and added some sliced onions and a bit of white wine. A less syrupy, but also tasty.
love love LOVE your blog. such fabulously healthy and tasty recipes!
Aw, thanks so much! 🙂
Do you think this would also taste good with pork chops instead of chicken
I'm really not sure, as I've never tried, but the meat should be a fattier piece, as that what really adds to the flavor.
Orange Juice works perfect with Pork chops
Do you think this would also taste good with pork chops instead of chicken?
I made this tonight but failed! It sounded so easy and I thought I followed the instructions exactly but my sauce just never thickened up!! 🙁 what could I have done wrong!?
It's hard to say without being there...did you change anything? Any liquid exposed to air naturally reduces down, so perhaps you didn't have the lid off or ajar enough? It does take some time too.
I made this tonight with apple cider and boneless breasts. So good!
Reduced cook time for chicken and added adobo for seasoning. Thank you for such a simple easy delicious recipe!
That's awesome, thanks for the feedback! 🙂
Can I use Apple cider instead of Apple juice? Thanks.
I've never had/tried apple cider, so I can't say, sorry!
THIS WAS SO GOOOOOOOOOD!!!
Yay! That's great Paige, thanks for the feedback! 🙂
8 hours on low and it came out great
Great to hear Edward! 🙂
Edward, did it reduce the apple juice down to a syrup in the crock pot?? There's usually a lot of water after 8 hrs of cooking time. I want to give this a try today, but I'm not sure if to use stove top or crock pot. Thanks.
how long in a slow cooker
I've never tried it that way, so I don't know.
Trying this tonight. I only have regular old apple juice so I'm hoping it works. FX!
I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
This was very good. I put a little too much pepper on it, but, all 5 of my children liked it! I served it with rice and broccoli. I also doubled the amount of juice so I could pour some over the rice.
That's great Heather, thanks for letting me know! 🙂
Can you use chicken breasts instead?
I've never tried it that way, but I would guess you could! Some flavor may be lost, as the breasts have less fat, but I bet it would still work! 🙂
I can't wait to try this tonight!
I hope you enjoy it Katie! It is one of my daughters' favorite meals. 🙂
Hi, this looks great (and very simple) - do you know if it freezes well? Thanks!
I'm not sure, as I've never tried. Sorry!
Thank you for a wonderful recipe-from the wife of a 40 year FF
You're so welcome Ann! Thank you for the comment!! 😀
Lauren, delicious and quick! Just did this--and because we were out of apple juice, tried orange. So good! Thank you!
That's awesome Pam! I'll have to try it with orange juice sometime. 🙂
I bookmarked that recipe too. 🙂 And I like the idea of using it to make a sauce. I hadn't really thought about it that way, more in the "drizzle on top of yogurt" notion. Mmm.
But I might still try the tempeh done in the way of the chicken thighs... I've often read to poach tempeh before using, and this could be a nice two-for-one type idea. If I give it a go, I'll let you know how it turns out. Time to go buy apple juice!
I'm intrigued by this, but since I cook pretty much exclusively veggie, I'm wondering what I could swap the chicken with... tofu or tempeh maybe? I might have to give it a try. I wonder if I could slow cooker it too.... Ahhh the possibilities... 🙂
You could actually just make the 'apple honey' like I instruct in this post: https://www.oatmealwithafork.com/2012/10/03/wiaw-and-homemade-vegan-honey/
Then, slather it on whatever you'd like! I've been playing around with making it into a bbq or teriyaki sauce with some red pepper flakes, soy sauce, tomato sauce, etc., so that may also be an option for you!
This looks so good...something my kids would really enjoy! Thanks for sharing this 🙂
I love your new layout 🙂 And this Chicken looks awesome! I used to go Cliff Jumping all the time in college and like you can say I'm happy to stay on the ground now 🙂
Haha! Well stated!
love the chicken & the pics HAPPY ANIVERSARY!!
chicken looks GRRRRRRREAT!!!!!!!! but more so love the pics of the baby girls & of course gus.......................love love love your recipes...............you are so talented.....ps HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!
Thank you Lori! Gus has to get his mug in everywhere...especially when food is involved... 😉
Hey Lauren ~ So what's in the sauce that appears to resemble sesame seeds? (oow, concept). I suppose it's whatever is in the Toronto steak/chicken rub. Whatever, it looks absolutely delicious and I will for sure make this. Thanks once again! 🙂
Hi Dana! Yes, it's just the seasoning mix....black pepper, salt, coriander, garlic, dill, and red chili flakes. It's an awesome blend! 🙂
what brand of apple juice do you use? Mine completely evaporated just like water and didn't leave any sauce at all..
Mine was from whole foods, unfiltered organic w no additives, but very light in color.
Any apple juice, as long as all it contains is apple juice. I have no idea what could have happened! The natural sugar in the juice is what makes it syrupy. You had the chicken in there, right? No water added?
I had the same thing happen. Whole foods unfiltered apple juice. No water added. I went through the whole cooking process...I put a thermometer in the chicken and it was done. I took it out and kept simmering the sauce...brown in color. I simmered it for another hour ...never got thick. I used it on the chicken as a watery gravy. It was good, but not thick
What type of pan are you using? Also, was it uncovered? The steam escaping from the juice is key in allowing the sugars in the juice to reduce and get syrup-y. I'd like to help if I can!
I had the same problem! The juice would not thicken and I was worried the chicken would dry out so I took it off the stovetop.
Hi Lauren: I used a metal pot with a cover about 12’ in diameter and 8 inches deep. It was covered the first 15 mins. of simmering, and open about 2” on the second 15 mins of simmering. The chicken was then done according to an internal reading of 165 F. I then removed the chicken and continued to simmer what was to be the honey like glaze. I completely removed the cover and did this for 60 minutes. All it did was take more liquid from the sauce. I then stopped and used the liquid like gravy on the chicken. Weird huh?!?! I am thinking the Whole Foods unfiltered apple juice by Martinelli has no sugar…it says Unfiltered Apple Juice, No Concentrates, No Sweeteners.
Okay, I would definitely say the depth of your pot is what prevented the reduction. My pan is only about two inches deep. I'm hoping to have a video of the process made within the next week or so, which will hopefully help people. If you try it again, be sure you're using a more shallow pan as opposed to a large pot. Thanks so much for your feedback though, I truly appreciate it!
I'm not a bog chicken eater, but I would make an exception for this! They look so perfectly moist and tender.
I don't know what the most adventurous thing would me... maybe just playing roller derby?
I had a friend in college that was involved in a roller derby group...hard core stuff! 🙂