Pomegranate Chicken is a unique boneless chicken thigh recipe. Ours is a simplified version of Persian Fesenjan with pomegranate juice, coconut milk, walnuts, and warm spices. Slightly sweet, richly seasoned, and fall apart tender, it’s an impressive one pot chicken dinner that even a beginner cook can make perfectly the very first time.
Chicken thighs are a terrific canvas for richly seasoned recipes. They have a stronger flavor and more fat than chicken breasts, so they hold up well alongside fragrant spices and longer cook times without drying up or tasting bland. For dishes like chicken curry, grilled tacos, or chicken shawarma, I always reach for boneless skinless chicken thighs to add a punch of extra flavor and ensure tender, moist chicken.
And just when I thought I’d reached the limit of what I could do with boneless skinless chicken thighs, along comes pomegranate chicken.
Traditional Persian Fesenjan is a chicken stew with walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and warm spices. Our pomegranate chicken is a simplified version of this classic dish with a bit of extra spice, pomegranate juice in place of molasses, and coconut milk in place of broth. It’s rich, fragrant, and a perfect way to celebrate the versatility of pomegranates.
How to Make Pomegranate Chicken
Pomegranate chicken is a variation of traditional Persian Fesenjan. This version is less fussy, more savory, and a fun and festive way to use seasonal pomegranate seeds. A fresh pomegranate will yield the ripest seeds (arils) with the deep color and a tangy bite, but if seeding one is overwhelming, look for pre-packaged pomegranate seeds in the produce section of your grocery store.
- Saute the chicken in coconut oil until no longer pink.
- Add the shallots and cook 3-4 minutes more, until softened. Season the chicken and shallots with fresh garlic, fresh ginger, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon.
- Add pomegranate juice and deglaze the bottom of the pot, scraping up the browned bits until it’s clean.
- Add the walnuts, coconut milk, and honey and give everything a good stir.
- Simmer 20 minutes covered, then 10 minutes longer with the lid cracked, until the chicken is very tender and easily shreds and the sauce is very thick.
- Serve over steamed rice, garnished with pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley.
Tips for Making This Recipe Perfectly
- The first half of this recipe moves fairly quickly, so make sure you have your ingredients prepped and ready to go before starting.
- I like to make braises and stews in my dutch oven because it holds heat so well, but if you don’t have one, a deep sautee pan will get the job done. Just ensure whatever you use has a tight-fitting lid and is wider than it is tall.
What to Serve with Pomegranate Chicken
- Serve over a grain, or grain substitute, that can soak up some of the residual sauce like white rice, couscous, or cauliflower rice.
- This chicken is very flavorful, so avoid side dishes that might compete too much. Pan-seared green beans, steamed or Instant Pot cauliflower, or acidic fruits like clementines are perfect.
Did you make this Pomegranate Chicken? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp kosher
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 1 c pomegranate juice
- ½ c chopped walnuts
- ½ c coconut milk
- 1 tbsp honey
- ½ c pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the coconut oil, and heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and toss to coat in the fat. Saute, stirring frequently, until the chicken is browned and no longer pink, 7-8 minutes. Add the shallot, toss, and saute, stirring occasionally until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; saute, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
- Add the cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, and pepper; stir into the chicken and shallots and saute to toast the spices, stirring frequently, until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Pour the pomegranate juice into the pot and deglaze. Scrape up the browned bits from the pot using a wood spoon or rubber spatula. Continue stirring and scraping until the bottom of the pot is clean. Add the walnuts, coconut milk and honey, then give everything a good stir.
- Allow the liquid to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Crack the lid and simmer an additional 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the chicken is starting to fall apart. Stir occasionally throughout to prevent scorching.
- Ladle the chicken over steamed rice (or your base of choice). Garnish with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley and serve right away. Enjoy!