chicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

Looking for a one pan meal? Search no more. This Chicken with Orzo, Fennel & Leeks has your name all over it. Full of flavor and texture. Add a green salad and you have dinner in less than an hour. 

For the best results, use your 10-inch cast-iron skillet on this one. If you don’t have one, use any similar-sized heavy-duty ovenproof pan or skillet. It’s all about using just one pan for it all.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

While the oven is heating up…

It’s time to get that beautiful crispy exterior on the chicken. You’ll achieve that easily by browning them on the stovetop in some melted butter. The seasoned thighs are snugly nestled, skin side down, in your skillet. 

chicken with orzo, fennel & leekschicken with orzo, fennel & leekschicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

Cook until meat is opaque around the edges…

After a short time, about 6 to 8 minutes, the skin should be a deep golden brown. Once the skin is crispy and browned, flip those guys over …they’re now ready to hang out in the oven to finish cooking.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

In the meantime…

While the chicken is finishing up in the oven, let’s work on the rest of this amazing dinner. There really isn’t a whole lot of prepping to do. Just chop up the fennel and leeks. While we’re on the subject of chopping …don’t discard those fennel fronds. They are added to the mix just before serving.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leekschicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

Your chicken thighs should be ready…

Once the skillet is removed from the oven, transfer the chicken to a plate to keep on stand by . You’ll find that there is quite a bit of juice left in the pan. That’s a good thing. It’s loaded with flavor.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leekschicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

Time to soak up that good stuff…

Allow the fennel and leeks to sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. You’ll note that the mixture is beginning to caramelize, with golden edges. When that happens, it’s time to add the orzo.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leekschicken with orzo, fennel & leeks  

Give it a chance to brown…

After about three minutes with occasional stirring, the orzo will darken to a nutty brown. It will actually smell toasty. That’s when you’ll add the wine. After about a minute, the wine will evaporate and you’ll begin to add the broth.

The broth is added just one-half cup at a time. It’s like you’re making risotto …only you’re using pasta instead of rice. Just keep stirring as you add the broth. This process takes about ten to fifteen minutes total.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

The final touches…

Remove your skillet from the heat. This is when the lemon juice and reserved butter is added. Then the reserved chopped fennel fronds. Use as much or as little as you like. Check for seasoning …add salt and pepper if needed. 

chicken with orzo, fennel & leekschicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

The crowning glory…

Okay folks. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Grab that plate of golden chicken thighs and arrange them on top of this bed of deliciousness. Garnish with some freshly grated lemon zest and a few fennel fronds. It’s a beautiful thing.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

Call the troops to the table…

Serve your Chicken with Orzo, Fennel & Leeks immediately, while still piping hot. Include a salad of fresh greens on the side and call it a meal.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leekschicken with orzo, fennel & leekschicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

chicken with orzo, fennel & leeks
5 from 2 votes

chicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit

A complete delicious meal in one skillet.

Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 to 6 servings
Author Rosemary Stelmach


  • 6 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on (about 2 pounds)
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored & chopped (plus fronds, chopped & set aside)
  • 1 leek, white & pale green parts only, chopped
  • 8 ounces orzo
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. Sprinkle salt and then some pepper all over chicken. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Nestle chicken, skin side down, in skillet in a single layer with no gaps (if you can’t quite fit them all, wait until chicken shrinks slightly, then puzzle in the remaining pieces).

  3. Cook until meat is opaque around the edges and skin is deep golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Turn chicken skin side up and transfer skillet to oven; bake, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, 10–15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

  4. Set same skillet (with juices) over medium heat; combine chopped fennel bulb and leek in the skillet and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until leek is looking golden around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add orzo and cook until pasta is darkened (it will take on a brown hue) to a nice nutty brown in spots and toasty smelling, about 3 minutes.

  5. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring, until liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. Add broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting broth absorb before adding more, until orzo is tender and broth is mostly absorbed but pan is not dry, 10–15 minutes.

  6. Remove the skillet from the heat, Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking; mix in lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter; then add the chopped fennel fronds reserving a few to use as a garnish. Pile chicken on top and finish with the lemon zest and reserved fronds. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

In place of a cast-iron skillet, any medium-sized heavy-duty ovenproof skillet can be used.

chicken with orzo, fennel & leeks

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