One-Skillet Smoky Turmeric Chicken With Crispy Chickpeas

June 16, 2021
59 Ratings
Photo by Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Keep this one-skillet wonder in your back-pocket for nights when you want good food fast. Its deliciousness lies in a few simple techniques—sauteing bite-sized pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in equal parts Spanish smoked paprika and turmeric until they’ve developed a golden crust, then sizzling chickpeas in the spiced, golden fat left in the skillet until they’re ultra-crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. (I liken them to little chickpea nuggets, and fair warning, they’re addictive.)

From there, toss the spiced chicken and chickpeas with some chopped cilantro, and dinner is served, straight from the skillet, with some cooling yogurt sauce on the side. It’s a complete meal on its own, but for a more substantial spread, warm flatbread, a green salad, sliced cucumbers and/or pickled vegetables all make simple, swell companions.

A few notes and tips: I love the pairing of smoky paprika and sunny turmeric, but let your spice cabinet lead the way. Try all turmeric or all paprika, for example, or other spice blends, such as turmeric and cumin, your favorite curry powder, or garam masala. Boneless, skinless chicken breast can stand in nicely for thighs, as can other kinds of beans for the chickpeas. For a meatless version, swap tofu or tempeh for the chicken. If you don’t like cilantro, or have it on hand, other leafy herbs (parsley, mint, basil) or snipped chives or scallions all work well. —EmilyC

What You'll Need
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One-Skillet Smoky Turmeric Chicken With Crispy Chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or a lesser amount of red chile flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 pounds to 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 14 ounces cooked chickpeas (one can)
  • 3/4 cup plain full-fat yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, for serving
  • 4 pieces warm pita or flatbread, for serving, or 4 handfuls fresh greens and/or leafy herbs
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Dry well with a cotton towel (they’ll get crispier this way!). Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss chicken with turmeric, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil until evenly coated.
  3. In a 12-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken, distributing the pieces so they’re in a single, even layer. Cook without moving for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook until nicely browned and cooked to an internal temp of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 3 to 4 minutes longer. (Note: If you have a smaller skillet, cook the chicken in batches. A splatter screen or fry guard works well to prevent oil splatter.) Remove skillet from the heat, and transfer chicken to a plate, leaving all of the spiced fat in the skillet.
  4. While the chicken is resting, make the chickpeas. Return the skillet to medium-low heat, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of fond. (Note: Leave them in the skillet, as long as they’re not burnt, to flavor the chickpeas.) Add another 1 tablespoon olive oil, then the chickpeas and a few pinches of salt, stirring to evenly coat in the spiced fat. It’ll seem like a lot of fat, but trust me, it’s key for the crispiest, crunchiest chickpeas.
  5. Cook the chickpeas for about 10 to 12 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. The idea is to go low and slow so the chickpeas become ultra-crispy on the outside, still creamy on the inside. Some will pop and split as they dry and crisp. Taste and add a little more turmeric and/or smoked paprika if desired. When they’re done, turn off the heat and stir in cilantro.
  6. While the chickpeas are cooking, make the yogurt sauce by combining yogurt, 2 teaspoons lemon juice (cut the remaining lemon into wedges for serving), a pinch or two of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Adjust seasoning and acidity, to taste.
  7. Serve chicken and crispy chickpeas while still warm with warmed pita, yogurt sauce, fresh greens or herbs, and lemon wedges.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • BrownBarn
  • Sunny Aalami
    Sunny Aalami
  • Cynthia Hunt
    Cynthia Hunt
  • EmilyC

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

72 Reviews

AntoniaJames July 11, 2023
Excellent. Immediately moved from "Must Try" collection to "Keepers." I could see making just the chicken, deglazing the pan with a touch of red wine vinegar (or using the pan drippings it to flavor a yogurt and tahini based dressing), tossing lettuce with that and topping the salad with the chicken and whatever else strikes my fancy, things like pepitas, croutons, dried cherries, and in summer, cucumbers and tomatoes. ;o)
Lindsey S. July 9, 2023
I’ve made this a few times now and usually skip the yogurt. When the chickpeas are almost done, I add the chicken back to the pan (with its juices) and then squeeze lemon onto everything. Delicious!
angelclark June 1, 2023
Wow! Truly great recipe. Due to a shopping error I used both breasts and thighs and both came out great.
T March 14, 2023
This recipe is a home cook’s dream! What an amazing outcome for an uncomplicated dish. We made fresh flatbread and used dried chickpeas (Rancho Gordo). The spice infused oil rivulets interacted with the yogurt beautifully in taste, and visually. Thank you for sharing this very wonderful gem!
MDdurkin March 7, 2023
Loved this! Quick and easy but the taste and textures were just so good. Followed recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly! It was so good that two of us ate the whole thing though - might have to double it if we really had to serve four - haha!
Cnye March 2, 2023
Absolutely fantastic and so easy. Added chopped dino kale to the chickpeas and served over brown rice with the yogurt drizzled on top (thinned a little). Major hit.
Catal May 14, 2022
People love this! So easy and so flavorful.
Tracey February 22, 2022
I love this recipe. I sautéed some kale after the chickpeas were done in the leftover oil and spices. Perfect one pan meal, and super fast and easy weeknight dinner.
Lin December 15, 2021
Please provide the option of printing the recipe image. Thank you for this wonder recipe!
Betty June 19, 2021
We just finished this delicious supper! My husband loved the spices, and even raves about the chickpeas! My chicken and chickpeas both took longer to cook, chicken about twelve minutes, chickpeas about fifteen. I did add a tablespoon of fine chopped fresh mint to the yogurt and I was glad I did. I saved it on arugula and chopped cucumber. This goes into my six star file!
BrownBarn June 16, 2021
This was delicious. Was inspired by Amanda’s video the other day and I’m so glad I made it! I make a yogurt sauce with Greek yogurt, feta and garlic that I usually use with za’atar/Aleppo spiced beef. I had some left in the fridge so that’s what we used with this and it was so good. Will definitely make this again. I also have to add that I wasn’t sure I’d like the chickpeas but they really surprised me - in a good way!
EmilyC June 16, 2021
Thanks for trying this, BrownBarn -- glad you liked it!
Sunny A. May 24, 2021
This was sooo delicious!
DC's P. February 5, 2021
Delicious! Everyone seems to rave about the beans, but for me the star of this dish is the chicken. I will be making the chicken again and again with rice, a green vegetable and/or a vinegary salad for a fantastic quick meal.
EmilyC February 5, 2021
Great to hear, DC's Place! Thanks for your note.
mmann15 November 23, 2020
We added chopped cucumber to the sauce which brought an additional crunch to the dish. Easy addition and tasty, too!
EmilyC November 24, 2020
Yum! Thanks for trying this, mmann15!
mmann15 November 23, 2020
We added chopped cucumbers to the yogurt sauce, a la Tzatziki, and it brought another version of crunch to the dish. ‘Easy addition and tasty, too!
B99 November 3, 2020
Excellent recipe. Fast and easy and you can easily double the recipe for larger family or gatherings. Only modification I'll be making is to invest in a splatter screen to use when cooking the chickpeas. They do indeed pop and a screen will save a lot of clean up of the stove and floor. :)
Merry November 3, 2020
Good point and one I should have thought to mention. We have a splatter screen and there is a note on our copy of this recipe to bring it out for the chickpeas.
Mike E. October 28, 2020
Hey EmilyC--I was looking for something new to do with the boneless chicken thighs sitting in my fridge and this is a keeper! Reminded us a lot of Chicken Shawarma but a lot quicker to make with fantastic flavor. I didn't change a thing except to add a little garlic powder to the yogurt sauce and served it with Naan. BTW, the leftover chickpeas (used a big can) crisped up beautifully the next day in the air fryer.
EmilyC October 29, 2020
So glad you liked this, Mike, and great tip about crisping the leftover chickpeas in the air fryer! I bought my mom one last year... I have been tempted to get one for myself! : )
MDdurkin March 7, 2023
I was wondering how the chickpeas would do reheated - thanks for adding that!
Cynthia H. September 13, 2020
I’m back!
I’m making this wonderful recipe again tonight. I’m using chicken breasts so I thought I’d try a yogurt based marinade on the chicken pieces so they wouldn’t become dry.
Should I wipe the marinade off the chicken completely when I’m ready to cook? Has anyone tried marinaded chicken breasts with this recipe?
Allison W. September 13, 2020
Curious why your chicken is dry. Are you cooking it too long? I’ve made this recipe twice, following the directions and the chicken ( breast meat sliced in half and then cut in quarters) was moist. I would definitely wipe off the marinade or you will get a gooey residue in the pan, not a good way to cook the chickpeas. Good luck.
Dianne J. August 21, 2020
This is one of the best new recipes I’ve tried in a long time. Really delicious. My husband loved it, too. I used an extra can of chickpeas and more yogurt. I tried it with boneless skinless chicken breasts, but thighs are much better.
JuliaK August 17, 2020
This was so delish! I think you could experiment with different spice combos. We were low on smoked paprika so I used some sweet paprika and some garlic powder (AKA crack) and it was still pretty great.
EmilyC August 17, 2020
Wonderful! So glad you enjoyed this, JuliaK. And yes on trying different spice combos -- you can and should riff with whatever is in your spice cabinet, just as you did! : )