One-Skillet Smoky Turmeric Chicken With Crispy Chickpeas

May 28, 2020
34 Ratings
Photo by Anna Billingskog
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

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

  • Cynthia Hunt
    Cynthia Hunt
  • MaryFrancis Freedman
    MaryFrancis Freedman
  • Phifofum
  • Allison Williams
    Allison Williams
  • 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.

58 Reviews

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.
Author Comment
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!
Author Comment
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!
Trish 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.
Author Comment
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! : )
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.
Author Comment
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! : )
Nicole August 9, 2020
Made this last night and it was delicious! I used red chili flakes at the amount recommended and I think I could have used more (we like spice)! The only change I made was I received bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (by accident) so I removed the skin, chopped it up and fried it seprately and tossed it in and the end with everything and it gave it great flavor and extra crunch. Great recipe! This will definitely go in the rotation.
Thank you!
Author Comment
EmilyC August 9, 2020
So glad you enjoyed this -- thanks Nicole!
Mary B. July 21, 2020
So good! I made this for lunch yesterday and will be making it again for dinner tonight; it has been requested by my family and they don't have to ask me twice! Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe. Cheers!
Author Comment
EmilyC July 21, 2020
Mary, so glad this was a hit with you and your family! Thanks for your note!
MaryFrancis F. July 15, 2020
Loved this recipe!!!! Everyone in the family enjoyed it! I used 2 cans of chickpeas (because I can never have enough chickpeas!) and it turned out great! Just added a little more oil, salt and smoked paprika to the cooking chickpeas. There were no even a rouge chickpea.
Author Comment
EmilyC July 15, 2020
Great call on doubling the chickpeas -- love that every last one was gobbled up! Thanks MaryFrancis for the note.
Robin July 5, 2020
Emily C., you’re the BEST!!
Author Comment
EmilyC July 15, 2020
: )
Michelle June 30, 2020
This recipe is FANTASTIC! I loved that I already had all ingredients in my pantry and it was so easy to make. I like to make recipes exactly as directed the first time and then switch something if necessary. I think next time I might use a bit less oil and butter when I make the chicken since I'm trying to make leaner meals during the week.
Author Comment
EmilyC June 30, 2020
Happy that you enjoyed this, Michelle! Thanks for your note!
Phifofum June 19, 2020
The chickpeas were so delicious. It was hard to not snack on them right out of the pan. They held up reasonably well as leftovers the next day, as well. The oil and turmeric 'dye' made quite a mess in the kitchen, and so I would definitely look in to a splatter screen. But overall the dish was very tasty and greatly enjoyed.
Author Comment
EmilyC June 30, 2020
So glad you liked this, and yes to a splatter screen! I bought one several months ago and use it for this dish and many others.
Cynthia H. June 16, 2020
This is an amazing recipe and I followed it without substitutions (except I couldn’t find Aleppo pepper).
The whole family loved it and the chickpeas added so much.
It will be fun to try with other spices.
Thank you for such a great, easy, recipe
Merry June 16, 2020
Fun to see your comment since we are making this again tonight - it is a perfect recipe!
Author Comment
EmilyC June 18, 2020
So glad you and your family enjoyed this, Cynthia! Thanks for your note!
Teri A. June 10, 2020
This was delicious and so easy. Very little prep. A great last minute dinner and only one pan!
Author Comment
EmilyC June 11, 2020
So happy to hear, thanks Teri!
Allison W. June 9, 2020
Let’s talk about left-overs! First of all there were no chick peas left over so I didn’t have to wonder if they would get soggy and whether they should be refrigerated or not. But I did have chicken, pita bread and yogurt sauce left over so what is the obvious marriage of these three items... if you said a pita sandwich you are correct. After lightly toasting a half a pita and stuffing the chicken pieces in ( I did cut them a little smaller for easy eating) I poured on the sauce then added chopped Vidalia onions on top. Tomato slices and shredded greens would also have been good.
So all in all 2 great meals from one easy prep! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Author Comment
EmilyC June 11, 2020
: )
Melissa M. June 9, 2020
So I'm making this again tonight because it was so good, I can't wait any longer to have it again. This time we have the chicken thighs and Greek yogurt. Am thinking a little less of the smoked paprika than last time - not being a big smokey fan - but best of all, right now the chickpeas (washed, drained and dried) are in the refrigerator on a cookie sheet, uncovered and sprinkled with Kosher salt. Even though the chickpeas were crispy the first time, this salted air-dry technique--thanks to Korean chicken wing recipe--might make them even moreso. And, by the way, leftovers were outstanding. Hurry up dinner time!! Thank you, Emily!
Author Comment
EmilyC June 11, 2020
So glad you're making it again, Melissa! I'm intrigued on the salted air-dry technique for the did the they turn out?!
Melissa M. June 11, 2020
Hello! This is so totally my new favorite meal(s). I can't say that my experiment with salted air-dry technique made much difference in crispy outside and creamy inside. Both techniques require the same amount of cooking time to achieve maximum crisp. But so delicious either way.
Merry June 7, 2020
Loved this recipe! We debated Aleppo vs using hot smoked paprika and finally went with the hot smoked. Served with some beautiful steamed sugar snap peas from our Saturday market and dinner was divine!
Author Comment
EmilyC June 7, 2020
Hot smoked paprika sounds perfect, as do sugar snap peas! Thanks for trying this, Merry!
Merry June 7, 2020
Definitely trying again and sharing on our FB page. Looking forward to the leftovers!
Merry June 18, 2020
Emily, a note about a slight change we made on the second round (for us to make something twice within a week or so is unusual). We had some really good hummus which we mixed with Greek yogurt to serve as the sauce. Delicious! Loving this recipe.
Author Comment
EmilyC June 18, 2020
Yum! Anna, who tested and photographed the recipe, said she thinned the yogurt sauce and used it as a dressing for a leafy greens salad with the leftover chicken and chickpeas. So many possibilities! So glad it made another appearance at your table.
Allison W. June 6, 2020
My husband and I both loved it, and we have very different tastes. I especially liked the forgiving nature of the recipe. You don’t have Aleppo pepper, use red chile flakes. I also did half turmeric, half garam masala. You don’t like cilantro, toss in some scallions. I didn’t have yogurt, so I used sour cream.
One warning: 10 minute prep time is not realistic. Allow yourself more than that to cut up the chicken, gather the ingredients and prepare the other parts of your meal. I am now a total chick pea convert!
Author Comment
EmilyC June 7, 2020
So glad you liked this, Allison! Thanks for trying it and your note!