My Dad’s Garlic Chicken

Garlic Chicken

Garlic chicken was one of my dad’s specialties. It was originally based off a recipe in an old favorite Spanish cookbook, but has evolved over the years and now lives in my (and my mom’s) head.

I’ve been so busy lately experimenting with new recipes that this old favorite somehow fell out of my repertoire. It was definitely time to get it in writing before I forgot.

Cooked Garlic

Much of the recipe’s flavor comes from whole cloves of garlic that are sauteed in olive oil, mashed into a paste, and added back in towards the end of cooking. The garlic paste gives the base of chicken stock, white wine, and brandy a little sweetness and body. A light coat of flour on the chicken thighs thickens the sauce just enough so that it clings to the chicken, making each bite is succulent and full of flavor.

Garlic Chicken

One particularly great thing about this recipe is that it can be made ahead, which makes it perfect for entertaining. Whether served as a tapa, or as a main course over rice or potatoes, it was always a hit at my parents’ parties.

Garlic Chicken

This time, I healthified (is that word?) the rest of my meal and ate my garlic chicken with some mashed rutabaga and sauteed spinach. This recipe is as versatile as they come – it’s great with just about anything!

My Dad’s Garlic Chicken

Yield: 3-4 servings

My Dad’s Garlic Chicken

Loosely based on Chicken and Garlic Sauce from Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (trimmed)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour, for dredging (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Small pinch of saffron
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced


  • Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Coat each chicken thigh in flour, shaking to remove excess.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on each side. Remove and set aside.
  • Turn down the heat and let the oil cool down a minute. Then, add the garlic and cook at medium-low until soft and very lightly browned in spots. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add the brandy and scrape up the browned bits off the bottom as it reduces. When nearly evaporated, add the wine, chicken stock, and some black pepper. Bring to a simmer and add back in the chicken. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle (or just a knife), make a paste out of the garlic. Add this paste into the chicken after the 15 minutes, along with a small pinch of saffron. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if necessary. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Add in the parsley before serving.

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  • Michelle Collins

    I love having family recipes to make in my own kitchen. It’s such a rarity for so many families to have them! P.S. Can’t wait to see that mashed rutabaga recipe! 😉

  • Joanne (eats well with others)

    All that garlic has to result in something heavenly. what a great meal!

  • Maria Tadic

    I love anything garlic! I will have to try this out with some seitan – were vegetarians! I bet it’ll be delicious!

  • Emily aka 3 biterule

    This looks amazing! I definitely want to try this!

  • Bianca Garcia

    This sounds amazing and exactly like something my dad and I would love to eat together, too!

  • In and Around Town

    anything with that much garlic is a must try in my book! Love the fact that it is a family specialty!

  • Kristen

    i love that this recipe holds such a special place in your family. And I like how versatile it is.

  • Katie

    I made this for dinner last night. Since it was just for the 2 of us and I wanted extra sauce, I made it with only 1lb of chicken thighs but full portions of the rest (and maybe a little extra garlic) – SO ridiculously delicious and the chicken was fork tender. Served with sauteed spinach (prepared as in the next post) and new potatoes. Also – out of curiosity I ran the nutrition numbers on this and it’s really healthy, which is just so shocking because of how luxurious it tastes!

    • Colleen

      I’m so glad it turned out so well!

      • Katie

        And tonight I had all the ingredients for this but also wanted pasta – added some extra chicken stock throught the process and made a light pasta sauce. Chopped the chicken at the very end and also mixed in a bunch of roasted broccoli. Delicious and light pasta dish! This is my new favorite sauce base.

  • Shannon G

    this looks incredible! love family recipes, i’ll definitely have to try this one 🙂

  • Emily

    What a great family tradition! And your photos and website are looking incredible these days. So professional!

    • Colleen


  • Megan

    Just have to say you have the coolest serving dishes! The chicken sounds delicious.

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