Pan sauces for the win! Making a quick sauce in the skillet after browning meat is one of the easiest ways to make a really spectacular meal. Those little browned bits on the skillet (called fond) are ultra flavorful and shouldn’t be wasted. This time, I used a mixture of balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, soy sauce, brown sugar and butter to turn some plain chicken thighs into this decadent Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms. You’re going to love the rich and tangy taste, and how easy it is to throw together!
Garnished with fresh thyme.
What to Serve with Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms
I served my Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms with Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes and some steamed green beans. The buttery balsamic sauce would also pair beautifully with Browned Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes, Roasted Vegetable Couscous, or Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad.
What Kind of Mushrooms Should I Use?
I used baby bellas for this Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms, but I think white button mushrooms would work just as well. The sauce is so flavorful on its own that a less flavorful mushroom, like white button mushrooms, wouldn’t make or break the dish.
Don’t Fear the Fond!
If looking at a skillet full of brown gunk stuck to the bottom makes you cringe because you think you’re in for a lot of hard scrubbing to get it clean, it’s time to learn how to make a pan sauce! Those little brown bits are caramelized proteins and they have a LOT of flavor! The process of making a pan sauce dissolves them off the bottom (no need to scrub later!) and brings all that flavor back onto your plate.
How to Make a Pan Sauce
Pan sauces are simple:
- Brown a meat or other protein in a skillet or pot with butter or oil, then remove it from the skillet.
- Add a liquid (broth, stock, wine, balsamic vinegar, etc.) and stir to dissolve the browned bits.
- Let the liquid simmer and reduce by half.
- Add butter and stir until melted. The butter thickens the sauce and adds body.
- Drizzle the pan sauce over your cooked meat and enjoy!
Other options for pan sauces: add other flavorful ingredients like garlic, shallots, herbs, spices, or even jams and jellies.
Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms
- 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar ($0.55)
- 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.18)
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.04)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme ($0.02)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.25 lbs. total) ($3.02)
- 1 pinch salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 8 oz. mushrooms ($1.69)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.26)
- Prepare the balsamic sauce first. In a small bowl, stir together the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, and dried thyme. Set the sauce aside.
- Season the chicken thighs with a pinch of salt and pepper on each side.
- Heat a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the surface. Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and cook on each side until browned and cooked through (about 8 minutes first side, 5 minute second side). Remove the chicken to a clean plate and cover to keep warm.
- While the chicken is cooking, clean the mushrooms and then slice them in half. After removing the chicken from the skillet, add the mushrooms in their place, and sauté in the remaining oil and fat until the mushrooms are slightly tender and browned on the outside (5-7 minutes).
- Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the prepared balsamic sauce to the skillet and stir to dissolve any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Simmer the balsamic sauce with the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by half.
- Add the butter to the skillet and stir until it is melted into the sauce. Add the chicken back to the skillet, turning it to coat in the sauce, and allow it to simmer for a few minutes more to rewarm the chicken. Serve hot and drizzle the pan sauce over the chicken and mushrooms.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms – Step by Step Photos
Prepare the balsamic sauce first. In a small bow, stir together 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 1/4 tsp dried thyme. Set the sauce aside.
Season four boneless, skinless chicken thighs with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides.
Heat a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the chicken thighs and cook until they are browned on both sides and cooked through (about 8 minutes first side, 5 minutes second side). Don’t worry if some of it sticks to the skillet, you actually want that to happen! :)
While the chicken is browning, clean and slice 8 oz. mushrooms in half.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the skillet to a clean plate and cover to keep warm (foil or a second, upside down plate). Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook them in the leftover oil and chicken fat.
Sauté the mushrooms until they are slightly tender and browned on the outside (5-7 minutes).
Turn the heat down to medium-low. Pour the prepared balsamic sauce into the skillet. Stir to dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Simmer the sauce until reduced by half (about 5 minutes).
Add 2 Tbsp butter and stir until it is melted into the balsamic sauce.
Finally, add the chicken back to the skillet, turning it to coat in the sauce. Let it simmer for a few minutes more to warm the chicken through.
Serve the balsamic chicken and mushrooms hot, making sure to drizzle the extra pan sauce over the chicken!
Shown with Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes and steamed green beans.