Sicilian Skillet Chicken With Lemon Olives and Capers
Sicilian Skillet Chicken With Lemon Olives and Capers

This tasty one-pan dinner borrows the best of Sicilian cuisine. Olives, capers, lemon and white wine conjure up golden, meaty chicken thighs.

In this recipe

  • Easy cooking, big flavors
  • Tips for preparing Sicilian chicken
  • Variations you should try
  • What to serve with Sicilian chicken
  • Yes, you can plan ahead

Let’s get something straight before we dive into this recipe. As far as I know, there is not a single dish on the sunny island of Sicily that is called Sicilian fried chicken. What I can tell you is that the place is full of agricultural riches that you can use to cook a spectacular chicken dish.

Traveling the countryside of Sicily you will hardly notice olive groves dotting the landscape, vineyards dotting the hills, capers growing wild, a variety of citrus trees and olive oil producers from coast to coast. These are just a few of the treasures that have put Sicily on the culinary map, and all play a part in making this recipe a winner.

Easy cooking, big flavors

This is simple, rustic cuisine built on layers of flavor. You start by turning chicken thighs golden brown. From there, sauté a red onion, then add garlic, capers, olives, a whole sliced ​​lemon, and oregano. Next comes a generous splash of white wine to serve as the chicken’s braising liquid. Cover the pan tightly and simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

One thing is certain about this dish – it’s not lacking in flavor. Scoop up the pan juices and you’ll get a salty, briny kick from the olives and capers, a hint of spiciness from the whole lemon, and the aromatic triple flavor of onion, garlic, and oregano.

Tips for preparing Sicilian chicken

Although this recipe involves a few steps, it’s relatively easy to complete. Here are a few pointers on how to beat it out of the park.

  • If time permits, salt the chicken in advance. Salt up to 24 hours in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook. This makes the finished bird particularly aromatic.
  • Don’t rush the tanning. Make sure the chicken skin turns out nice and golden. It will also make the dish tastier and prettier.
  • Pit the olives. Nobody wants to experience the unpleasant surprise of biting into an olive pit. Either buy pitted olives or pit them yourself. Use the side of a chef’s knife or hammer to gently tap the olives and remove the pits. Simply!

Variations you should try

If you want to play around with this recipe, there are many options. Here are a few ideas.

  • Use a different type of olive. I prefer the buttery Castelvetrano olives that are native to Sicily, but other varieties like Cerignola, Manzanilla, and Picholine will work deliciously too.
  • Substitute a Meyer lemon. If you can get your hands on this juicy variety, use it in place of the lemon.
  • Add a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes. A touch of warmth might be a nice addition.
  • Choose a different leafy green. Instead of kale, use chard, spinach, collards, or dandelion. You can even use radicchio if you like bitter flavors.
  • Instead of chicken thighs, use a whole, shredded chicken that weighs about four pounds. Ask your butcher to cut each breast in half down the middle. Also, keep an eye on the breasts as they cook, as they may be done before the other cuts are tender. Simply pull them out while the thighs and legs finish cooking and return them to the pan before serving.

What to serve with Sicilian chicken

There are many ways to serve Sicilian fried chicken. It could certainly be served on its own, with crusty bread as a side to soak up the salty juices. A tough cooked grain like farro or sorghum would work well. You can also spoon the chicken over mashed potatoes or serve it with a side of fried potatoes. And speaking of Italian cuisine, a simple pasta with olive oil on the side would also work.

Yes, you can plan ahead

Like so many dishes, this one tastes best hot off the stove. That said, I’ve enjoyed it on two occasions, made quite ahead of time. Simply cover the pan with a lid or foil and store in the refrigerator for up to a day.

To reheat, leave the lid on and set over medium-low heat. Since some of the liquid has likely been absorbed by the other ingredients, you may want to add a few splashes of chicken stock or even water to the pan while it heats.

Italian-inspired chicken recipes

  • Chicken cacciatore (chicken hunter’s style)
  • Skillet Chicken Parmesan
  • Chicken Milanese
  • Italian fried chicken with spinach, tomatoes and onions

Sicilian fried chicken with lemon, olives and capers

preparation time
20 minutes

cooking time
40 minutes

total time
60 minutes

up to 6 servings


  • 8th Chicken thighs with bones and skin (about 3 1/2 pounds)

  • 2 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 Middle Red onionHalve through the root and slice into thin crescents

  • 3 big carnations garlicthinly sliced

  • 1 Cup crisp, dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio

  • 1/2 Cup low sodium chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 lemonthinly sliced, including the skin

  • 3/4 Cup pitted Castelvetrano olives or other fleshy ones green olives

  • 3 tablespoon dehydrated capers

  • 3 packed cups lacinato kaleStems removed, roughly chopped


  1. Prepare the chicken:

    Use kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to trim excess skin from the chicken thighs. Trim any visible yellow fat along the underside of the chicken. Season with salt and spread on both sides.

    If time permits, place the chicken in a shallow dish or bowl and refrigerate overnight, uncovered. This adds extra flavor to the chicken and dries the skin, making it extra crispy when cooked.

  2. Cook chicken:

    Heat a large, deep skillet (at least 12 inches in diameter) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and toss the pan to coat. Place the chicken thighs skin-side down and cook until the skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a shallow bowl. The chicken is not cooked through.

    If your pan isn’t big enough to hold all the chicken at once, brown them in 2 batches.

  3. Cooking onions:

    Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the same pan. No additional oil needs to be added. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes until tender. Stir in the garlic, wine, chicken broth, oregano, lemon, olives, and capers.

  4. Add the chicken back in:

    Place the chicken thighs in the cooking liquid, skin side up. Cover the pan with a lid or tightly with foil. Adjust the heat so that the sauce bubbles over high heat. Cook the chicken until cooked through and very tender when cut with a knife, 35 to 40 minutes.

    When there isn’t much liquid left in the pan, add a splash or two of low-sodium chicken broth or water. There should be gravy, but the chicken shouldn’t be swimming in liquid.

  5. Add Kale:

    Tuck the chopped kale into the cooking liquid underneath and between the chicken. Cook until kale is tender and covered, 4 to 5 minutes. When your skillet just fits the chicken, transfer the thighs to a plate to cook the kale, then put them back in to serve.

  6. Surcharge:

    You can serve the chicken straight from the pan.

    Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Heat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warm through. As for freezing, it’s best to cool the chicken completely and then place it in a freezer bag with the air squeezed out, where it will keep for about 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

    Did you like this recipe? Leave us a rating in the comments!

nutritional information (per serving)
591 calories
34g Fat
23g carbohydrates
50g protein
Previous articleMediterranean Mezze Platter
Next articleInstant Pot Mashed Potatoes
Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!