Habanero Apricot Chicken

5 from 5 votes

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Make my habanero apricot chicken for a quick weeknight meal that is sure to please. Juicy chicken thighs are rubbed in a smoky spice blend, then pan-seared to perfection and drenched in an irresistibly sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce.

extreme closeup: habanero apricot chicken covered in a sticky sauce

Looking for a fun, flavorful way to jazz up chicken night? Look no further than this spicy apricot chicken recipe. We start by seasoning dark meat with smoky spices like black pepper, turmeric, and paprika, then searing them to golden brown perfection. 

These tender pan seared chicken thighs are bathed in a vibrantly unique sauce made from apricot preserves, zesty garlic, and habanero chiles along with flavor-bomb ingredients like Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

closeup: habanero apricot chicken covered in a sticky sauce in a skillet with a spicy pepper shown

The resulting dish is sweet, spicy, tangy, and savory all at once — sure to tantalize each and every one of your taste buds! Oh, and did I mention it only takes 30 minutes to make!?

For more recipes featuring apricots, check out my Pan Seared Salmon with Apricot, Apricot Barley Salad, and these Apricot Nut Bars.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Chicken Thighs – Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are the perfect choice for this dish. You can use bone-in or breasts if desired, just make sure you adjust your times and cook thoroughly. 
  • Paprika – Gives the dish a sweet, fruity smokiness. 
  • Turmeric – Adds a rich, earthy, grounding flavor to the dish.
  • Vegetable Oil – Regular vegetable, avocado, canola, or any oil with a decent smoke point will do the trick. 
  • Garlic – Pungent, zesty garlic gets sauteed to bring out its deep, nutty, and savory tones. 
  • Habanero Chiles – Infuse the entire recipe with fiery yet fruity heat. Feel free to sub serrano peppers, or try jalapenos for something milder.  
  • Apricot Preserves – Brings the recipe to life with a sweet, syrupy texture and bright, tangy flavor. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Brightens up the sauce with a blast of acidity. If needed, you can substitute red or white wine vinegar, or even lemon juice. 
  • Dijon Mustard – Adds tangy sharpness with a touch of spice. Swap in spicy brown, English, stone ground, horseradish, or any other similar mustard. 
  • Worcestershire Sauce – Gives the sauce a deep savoriness, bright tanginess, and harmonizing salty-sweetness. In a pinch, you can sub in some balsamic vinegar with a touch of honey added. 
overhead: pan seared chicken thighs in a skillet

Tip From Kevin

Handle Your Habaneros With Care

Remember to stay mindful when working with habaneros, or any spicy pepper for that matter. The oils from the peppers can easily stick to your hands and other surfaces, ending up in places (like your eyes) where you don’t want them. Keep your hands away from your face and always wash your hands with soap and water right after chopping and/or handling them.

overhead: pan seared habanero apricot chicken in a skillet

How to Make Habanero Apricot Chicken

  1. Season the Chicken. Use a small bowl to whisk together the salt, pepper, paprika, and turmeric. Rub the spice blend on both sides of the chicken thighs. 
  2. Cook the Chicken. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Heat the vegetable oil, then add the chicken to the skillet, smooth side down. Cook for about 6 minutes on the first side, flip it, and cook for another 8-9 minutes. Remove the thighs from the pan and transfer them to a plate. Cover and set aside. 
  3. Make the Sauce. Leave the juices from the chicken in the skillet and add the habanero chiles and garlic. Saute for one minute, then stir in the apricot preserves, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 3 minutes as the sauce thickens and reduces. 
  4. Add Sauce & Serve. Remove the skillet from heat and immediately spoon the sauce over the chicken thighs.
closeup: apricot chicken recipe with a sticky sauce all over

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Frequently Asked Questions

How spicy is habanero apricot chicken?

The habanero peppers in this recipe definitely deliver some heat, but you can easily customize the dish to suit your tastes. Discard the seeds and just use the chili itself. Overall, this apricot chicken dish is a bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly hot.

For a milder outcome, be sure to remove both the seeds and the veins from the chiles. You can cut back on how much habanero you use or opt for a milder pepper like jalapeno. 

Want it spicier? Feel free to dial up the heat by keeping the seeds in and/or adding extra peppers. Add slowly though- things can get pretty fiery, pretty fast. 

Not sure which pepper to choose? Check out my Ultimate Chili Pepper Guide for more information.

How do you know when pan seared chicken thighs are done?

For this recipe I saute for 6 minutes, then flip chicken and cook another 8-9 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. The ultimate test for doneness is to pierce the thickest part of each piece with a meat thermometer. If you get a reading of 165 degrees F or higher, your pan seared chicken thighs are done. 

If you don’t have a thermometer, there are some visual cues. The outside of the chicken should be a light golden brown color. When the thickest part of the meat is cut with a knife, it should appear opaque throughout and the juices should run clear.

What pairs well with this apricot chicken recipe?

I like to choose milder dishes that really allow the spicy sweetness of this apricot chicken recipe to shine through. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions.

– Serve with Cilantro Lime Rice, Mexican Green Rice, or any of your favorite rice dishes. 
– Enjoy with vegetable side dishes like these Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Fall Vegetables, or Grilled Cauliflower.
– Pair apricot chicken with a cool, refreshing salad like this crisp Cucumber Salad or Cold Broccoli Salad
– Have alongside Roasted Gold Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, or Baked Sweet Potatoes.
– Finish your meal with a light, cooling dessert like Pineapple Ice Pops.

closeup: habanero apricot chicken covered in sauce
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Habanero Apricot Chicken

5 from 5 votes
Habanero apricot chicken features pan seared chicken thighs in a spicy, sweet, and savory sauce. An easy-to-make meal any night of the week!
Servings: 6
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 33 minutes



  • In a small bowl mix together the salt, pepper, paprika and turmeric. Season both sides of the chicken thighs.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet, smooth side down. Saute for 6 minutes, then flip chicken and cook another 8-9 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken (internal temp should be 165°F). Remove chicken from pan to a plate and cover.
  • Add garlic and habanero to the pan juices and cook for a minute. Add the apricot preserves, vinegar, dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and reduce for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, spoon sauce over chicken.


Calories: 392kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 578mg | Potassium: 416mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 389IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: Southwestern, Tex Mex
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): habanero apricot chicken


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious. With the exception of grilling the chicken I made the recipe as written and it was SO good. The sticky glaze was sweet and spicy, but not too, and the seasoning on the chicken made it extra special and is a step that should not be missed. Thanks for another great recipe Kevin.

  2. 5 stars
    Very tasty and versatile. I used pork tenderloin. I had pineapple preserves and jalapeños on hand. Did not have turmeric so used chili seasoning instead. Served with black beans and baked sweet potatoes and butter and cinnamon. Cooking times change if pork is thick. I pounded it a bit. Hubby loved it as did I. 😍

  3. Hi Kevin,
    Going to try the Apricot Chicken but I have a question. No preserves in Thailand only jam that will be too sweet.
    Could you give me a clue as to the fruit content & Sugar in your preserves?
    We have canned Apricots & fresh peaches. I should Be able to bodge something tasty for the sauce. 25 years with Kraft foods International has taught me a trick or two 😁

    1. Hi Paul, good question. I use whatever is on hand in the cupboard to be truthful. I do enjoy the bits of fruit more in preserves. Jam and jellies can be used. I am unaware there is more sugar in jams though. You can read more about all 3 here, I found the article interesting.

  4. nice recipe, though i make something similar, my difference is adding minced up ginger. It gives an edge that just makes it over the top, that is if ginger is likeable. thx once again for all your efforts and the experimentation in your kitchen. I love that too.