Homemade Portuguese Chicken

Portugal, known for its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and, of course, its exquisite cuisine. Among the many delightful dishes that Portuguese cuisine has to offer, Portuguese chicken, also known as “Frango à Portuguesa,” stands out as a flavorful and aromatic delight. This dish marries tender chicken with a fragrant sauce, creating a taste that lingers on your palate and transports you to the sun-kissed streets of Lisbon. In this culinary journey, we will explore how to create your own Homemade Portuguese Chicken, allowing you to savor the essence of Portugal from the comfort of your kitchen.


For this Homemade Portuguese Chicken recipe, you’ll need:

For the Chicken:

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs: Chicken thighs are perfect for this dish, offering a succulent and tender meat that’s full of flavor.
  • Salt and black pepper to taste: These seasonings form the base for flavoring the chicken.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil: Olive oil is a staple in Portuguese cooking and imparts a delightful richness to the dish.

For the Portuguese Sauce:

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped: Onions are a foundational ingredient in this sauce, providing both flavor and aroma.
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced: Garlic adds a wonderful depth of flavor.
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped: Red bell peppers offer a sweet and slightly smoky note to the sauce.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste: Tomato paste adds a rich umami element to the sauce.
  • 1 bay leaf: Bay leaves contribute a subtle earthy aroma to the sauce.
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika: Smoked paprika provides a smoky and slightly spicy flavor, an essential component of Portuguese cuisine.
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste): Red pepper flakes offer a hint of heat to balance the dish.
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine: Wine helps to deglaze the pan and adds complexity to the sauce.
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes: Diced tomatoes form the base of the sauce, offering acidity and texture.
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth: Chicken broth provides a savory depth to the sauce.
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives, sliced: Green olives offer a briny and tangy flavor, distinctive in Portuguese cuisine.
  • Salt and black pepper to taste: Adjust the seasoning to your preference.

For Garnish:

  • Chopped fresh parsley: Fresh parsley adds a touch of freshness and vibrant color to the finished dish.


Preparing the Chicken:

1. Season the chicken: Begin by seasoning the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper on both sides.

2. Sear the chicken: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the seasoned chicken thighs, skin side down. Sear them until they’re golden and crispy, which should take about 4-5 minutes on each side. Once seared, transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.

Making the Portuguese Sauce:

3. Sauté the aromatics: In the same skillet, add the finely chopped onion, minced garlic, and red bell pepper. Sauté the mixture until the onions turn translucent and the peppers soften.

4. Add tomato paste: Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, allowing it to meld with the aromatics.

5. Season and spice: Add the bay leaf, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir well to evenly distribute the spices.

6. Deglaze with white wine: Pour in the dry white wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any flavorful bits that have stuck to the skillet’s surface.

7. Diced tomatoes and chicken broth: Now, it’s time to add the diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir everything together, creating a rich and flavorful sauce.

8. Return the chicken: Carefully place the seared chicken thighs back into the skillet, nestling them into the sauce.

9. Simmer: Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and allow the dish to simmer for about 20-25 minutes. The chicken should cook through and absorb the flavors of the sauce. Make sure to occasionally baste the chicken with the sauce to keep it moist and flavorful.

10. Add olives: About 5 minutes before serving, sprinkle the sliced green olives into the sauce. They will provide a delightful burst of flavor and color to the dish.

11. Final seasoning: Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper as needed. Discard the bay leaf.

12. Serve hot: Once the chicken is tender, and the sauce has thickened, it’s time to serve. Arrange the chicken on plates, spoon the Portuguese sauce over it, and garnish with chopped fresh parsley for a fresh finish.

Cook’s Tips

  • Using skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs: The skin-on, bone-in thighs are recommended because they stay moist and tender during cooking. The skin becomes crispy when seared, adding a layer of texture to the dish. If you prefer, you can use skinless, boneless chicken thighs or chicken breasts for a leaner version.
  • Adjusting the spice level: Portuguese Chicken typically has a mild to moderate level of spiciness due to the smoked paprika and red pepper flakes. You can increase or decrease the red pepper flakes to suit your taste. Feel free to experiment with the level of heat that you find enjoyable.
  • Wine choice: Use a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay for this recipe. The wine adds depth to the sauce, and the alcohol will cook off during simmering.
  • Serve with sides: Portuguese Chicken pairs beautifully with sides like rice, crusty bread, or even boiled potatoes. These accompaniments help to soak up the flavorful sauce and create a satisfying meal.


Grilled Portuguese Chicken

If you’re in the mood for something slightly different, consider preparing Grilled Portuguese Chicken. Instead of searing the chicken in a skillet, grill the chicken thighs on a preheated grill. After grilling, you can make a simplified Portuguese sauce by sautéing onions, garlic, red bell peppers, and spices, and then adding diced tomatoes and wine. Pour this sauce over the grilled chicken for a smoky, charred flavor that’s perfect for summer gatherings.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions

Keto Variation

To make a keto-friendly Portuguese Chicken, follow these adjustments:

  • Choose skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs as they are higher in fat and will keep you satisfied.
  • Omit the white wine and replace it with chicken broth to reduce the carb content. The wine adds depth of flavor, but it’s not keto-friendly due to its sugar content.
  • While the dish traditionally features green olives, you can reduce the carb count by using fewer olives or opting for pitted black olives, which tend to have fewer carbs.

Low-Carb Variation

For a low-carb version of Portuguese Chicken:

  • Use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for a balance of flavor and fat without the added carbs.
  • Skip the wine and rely on chicken broth to maintain a low-carb profile.
  • You can reduce the number of olives or use black olives to decrease the carb content.

Both keto and low-carb variations of Portuguese Chicken allow you to enjoy this flavorful dish while aligning with your dietary preferences.


Homemade Portuguese Chicken, or Frango à Portuguesa, captures the essence of Portugal’s culinary traditions. With its succulent chicken, vibrant sauce, and a blend of aromatic spices, it’s a true testament to the rich flavors of Portuguese cuisine. Whether you savor it with traditional sides like rice and crusty bread or try out the grilled variation, you’re sure to appreciate the depth of taste that this dish offers. So, transport your taste buds to the colorful streets of Lisbon and enjoy the magic of Homemade Portuguese Chicken, a culinary journey in your very own kitchen. Bom apetite!

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