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One-Pan Spicy Chicken Thighs with Orzo

Becca Jacobs
Cook Time:
35 mins
Prep Time:
15 mins

Chef notes

One-skillet dinners are a format that I keep coming back to because they are reliably delicious and such a time saver. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they cut down on dirty dishes! Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are the MVP in this dish because they’re almost impossible to overcook and you get so much flavor from them. As the chicken thighs cook, the fat renders, resulting in a gorgeous schmaltzy orzo that will steal your heart. In addition to all of that rich chicken fat, this dish has Calabrian chilis and a lot of garlic, bringing complexity to the dish in low-effort ways. All of this deliciousness is mixed in with chicken stock and green beans to round out the meal. The green beans sit directly under the chicken thighs, cooking until they’re done but still crunchy, and the orzo is toasted so that it develops even more flavor. 

By making a few smart shortcuts for this one-pan dinner, you’ll hit the perfect balance of effort and outcome, while keeping prep to a minimum. Speaking of innovative choices, this skillet bakes in the oven with the lid off, which is contrary to most skillet recipes that use a grain. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than getting a perfect sear on your chicken skin, only to then cover the pan with a lid, which creates steam and causes the golden crispy skin to turn soft. Chicken thighs can totally handle extended time in the oven and won’t dry out; plus, orzo is a quick-cooking pasta that doesn’t need the steamy environment other grains might. 

Technique Tip: Sear the chicken thighs in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan! Since this recipe calls for both lemon juice and lemon zest, make sure to zest the lemon before you juice it.

Swap Option: You can swap the orzo with ditalini or any small quick cooking pasta. Also, you can use broccoli instead of green beans. 



  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons Calabrian chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 16 ounce box orzo
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons Calabrian chilis, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, for garnish
  • flaky salt, to taste
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Preheat the oven to 375 F.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken thighs, kosher salt, Calabrian chilis and extra-virgin olive oil. Toss to combine, thoroughly coating the chicken thighs.


Melt the butter in a large 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat. Place half of the chicken thighs skin-side down in the hot pan and sear for about 5 minutes, until the skin is golden. Flip to cook the other side, about 3 minutes. Transfer the seared chicken thighs to a plate, set aside and repeat with the remaining chicken thighs. Scrape any excess marinade from the chicken into the skillet.


Turn the stove down to medium-low heat and add the onions to the skillet, cooking for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the orzo to the skillet and mix to thoroughly combine, toasting for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan.


Pour the chicken broth and lemon juice into the skillet and stir to combine. Nestle the chicken thighs back into the orzo mixture.


Carefully transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and all the liquid has been absorbed.


To serve, garnish with parsley, chilis, lemon zest and flaky salt.