Say goodbye to dry chicken because this Pan-Seared Chicken Breast recipe makes perfectly juicy chicken on the stovetop every time. The chicken is simply seasoned and cooked in a hot skillet, making it a quick and flavorful recipe.
There are endless methods of cooking chicken breasts without drying them out. Pan-frying them in a skillet with a delicious sauce, like in my peanut chicken skillet and sun-dried tomato chicken recipes, always infuses the meat with plenty of flavor while maintaining their natural juices. However, if all you need is a simple protein jam-packed with moisture and flavor, then stick with this Pan-Seared Chicken Breast.
This easy-to-follow guide is all about the sear. Small chicken breasts are lightly seasoned (no breading included) before being pan-seared until golden and crisp. It’s a quick and easy method to turn to when you need a protein for quick lunches, weeknight dinners, and meal prep.
The pan-fried chicken will add substance to any salad or grain bowl, or can be served as a quick main. Pair it with all of your favorite sides and you have a simple, healthy, and easy meal!
- This stovetop method is quick, easy, and convenient when you need crisp and juicy chicken on the table in minutes.
- Use the chicken anywhere you need extra protein, from green salads to grain bowls.
- This recipe calls for chicken, spices, and just a few basic ingredients you likely already have on hand.
Chicken breast – Select boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are similar in size. You can also use pre-pounded chicken breasts, if available.
Olive oil – An oil with a high-smoke point, like olive oil or avocado oil, is ideal for pan-frying chicken over high heat.
Spices and seasonings – A mixture of garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne gives the chicken a succulent, savory flavor with a kick. I like to triple the seasoning blend to have on hand for air fryer pork chops and chicken thighs.
Butter – The chicken is finished with butter for moisture, flavor, and to enhance the color of the golden crust.
Step 1: Prep the chicken. Slice the chicken breasts in half to make them smaller (you can skip this if the breasts are already small). This helps them cook evenly and quickly. Next, dry each half well with a paper towel.
Step 2: Season the chicken. In a small bowl, stir the garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne together. Season the chicken breasts with olive oil before sprinkling the spice mixture over both sides.
Step 3: Pan-fry the chicken. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan and cook until a browned, golden crust forms. Flip, reduce the heat, and cook until the juices run clear. Add the butter to the skillet and take it off of the heat.
Step 4: Let them rest, then serve. Let the breasts absorb the butter in the skillet before transferring the pieces to a cutting board to rest. After about 10 minutes, slice the chicken against the grain (or serve whole) and enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- To help achieve an evenly browned sear, you can pound the chicken breasts to an even 1-inch thickness first. Cover the pieces with plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until they’re evenly flattened.
- For extra crispy fried chicken, dredge the breasts in a light coating of all purpose flour mixed with the spices. Rice flour, almond flour, potato starch, or a gluten free flour blend will work just as well.
- Don’t fuss with the chicken or move it around once it’s in the hot pan. If the chicken doesn’t effortlessly turn over, it isn’t ready to be flipped!
- Leave the skillet uncovered. If you cover it, the chicken will steam instead of sear.
How long do chicken breasts take to cook on the stove?
The time will depend on the size of your chicken breasts. If they’re cut into smaller 1-inch thick pieces, they should only take about 5 minutes per side. Thicker chicken breasts will take closer to 7 minutes per side.
How do I know when they’re done cooking?
The best way to tell if a chicken breast is done cooking is to use a meat thermometer. Poultry is safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165ºF, but I suggest removing it from the skillet when it’s between 160ºF to 163ºF, as the temperature will continue to rise as the meat rests.
What else can you use to season chicken breasts?
There is almost no wrong way to season your chicken breasts. Always make sure to include salt and pepper, then mix up the baseline flavors with any of these seasoning blends:
- Lemon pepper
- Italian seasoning
- Cajun seasoning
- Herbs de Provence
- Dry BBQ Rub
- Blackened seasoning
- Mediterranean seasoning
What sauces go with pan-seared chicken?
If dry spices aren’t enough for you, pour sauces over the chicken instead. Season each piece with barbecue sauce, cream of mushroom soup, teriyaki sauce, Thai peanut sauce, alfredo sauce, buffalo sauce, mango marinade, or jerk marinade 2 to 3 minutes before they’re finished cooking.
How do you serve pan-seared chicken?
Include the sliced and cooked chicken breast with a number of healthy meals or enjoy it as the main protein with your favorite sides. These suggestions should help inspire you:
- Salads and bowls – Slice and serve the chicken over a simple caesar or garden salad, or use it to give this winter kale salad or autumn harvest bowl a protein boost.
- Veggies – You can’t go wrong serving chicken with green beans, carrots, asparagus, sauteed leafy greens, or brussels sprouts on the side.
- Potatoes – Serve it with a satisfying side of roasted red potatoes, mashed red potatoes, or mashed sweet potatoes.
- Grains – Healthy grains like rice and quinoa always pair well with chicken.
Refrigerator: Chicken breasts are the juiciest when enjoyed fresh, but the leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Freezer: Once cooled, place the breasts in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for 2 to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating: To reheat chicken without drying it out, warm it with a bit of chicken broth in a covered hot skillet or a covered baking dish in a 300ºF oven. Both techniques gently steam the chicken as it reheats to help it stay moist.
More stovetop chicken guides
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Pan-Seared Chicken Breast
- 2 large chicken breasts sliced in half lengthways; or use 4 small breasts
- 3 tablespoon olive oil divided
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon oregano
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 tablespoon butter
- If your chicken breasts are larger, slice them in half to create 4 thinner chicken breasts, then pat them dry with a paper towel. Brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken.
- In a small bowl, stir all of the seasonings together. Use your hands to sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken, coating all sides.
- Pour the remaining olive oil in a large, deep skillet or a cast iron skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken smooth side down and cook the chicken for 5 minutes. Use tongs to flip the chicken over, then reduce the heat to medium and cook the chicken for 2-5 minutes. NOTE: cook times vary depending on thickness of the chicken; always use a meat thermometer to confirm the internal temperature.
- Add the butter to the skillet, then remove the skillet from the heat.
- Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
This recipe is perfection! I made this last night to go with our chicken Alfredo and my fiancé says I now have chicken duty, as this was THE BEST! Super delicious and flavorful.
Thanks for your comment, Candice -- I'm glad the chicken was a hit!