Pan Seared Chicken Breast Recipe

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pan seared chicken breast



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Pan-seared chicken breast is a culinary classic that combines simplicity with delicious results. This technique ensures a juicy, flavorful, and beautifully browned chicken breast every time. Whether you’re a novice cook or a seasoned chef, mastering this recipe will make you a kitchen hero. Here’s a step-by-step guide to achieving pan-seared perfection.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of butter (optional)
Fresh herbs (such as thyme or rosemary) (optional)
2 garlic cloves, smashed (optional)



Start by selecting high-quality chicken breasts. Trim any excess fat or tendons to ensure even cooking. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels; moisture on the surface will prevent proper browning.


Generously season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

If you prefer other seasonings, feel free to add them at this stage. Paprika, garlic powder, or a dash of cayenne pepper can add an extra layer of flavor.

Preheat the Pan

Choose a heavy-bottomed skillet, such as cast iron or stainless steel, for even heat distribution.

Place the skillet over medium-high heat and let it preheat for about 2-3 minutes. You want the pan to be hot enough to sear the chicken but not so hot that it burns the oil.

Adding Oil

Once the pan is hot, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom evenly. The oil should shimmer but not smoke. If it starts to smoke, lower the heat slightly.

Searing the Chicken

Carefully place the chicken breasts in the pan, laying them down away from you to prevent oil splatters. Do not overcrowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary. Let the chicken cook undisturbed for about 5-7 minutes. This undisturbed cooking helps develop a nice, golden-brown crust.

Flipping the Chicken

Using tongs, flip the chicken breasts over. If they resist, give them another minute or so. They should release easily when they are properly seared. Cook the other side for another 5-7 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C).

Optional Aromatics

For an added layer of flavor, you can add a tablespoon of butter, fresh herbs, and smashed garlic cloves to the pan during the last few minutes of cooking. Tilt the pan slightly and spoon the melted butter over the chicken breasts. This technique, known as basting, imparts a rich, aromatic flavor to the chicken.


Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a plate for 5 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring a moist and flavorful result.


Slice the chicken breasts against the grain and serve immediately. Pan-seared chicken breast pairs well with a variety of sides, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a fresh salad.

    Tips for Success

    Uniform Thickness: If your chicken breasts are uneven in thickness, consider pounding them to an even thickness with a meat mallet. This ensures even cooking.

    Thermometer: An instant-read thermometer is a valuable tool for checking doneness. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C).

    Pan Sauce: After cooking the chicken, you can make a quick pan sauce by deglazing the pan with chicken broth, wine, or lemon juice, and simmering with a bit of butter and herbs.

    Pan-seared chicken breast is a versatile and reliable dish that can be adapted to suit any taste.

    With these simple steps, you can achieve a perfectly seared, juicy, and flavorful chicken breast every time.

    Variations and Serving Suggestions

    Pan-seared chicken breast is a blank canvas that can be customized in countless ways. Here are some variations and serving suggestions to elevate your dish:


    Herb-Crusted Chicken Breast

    Mix fresh chopped herbs like parsley, thyme, and rosemary with a bit of garlic powder and olive oil. Rub this mixture onto the chicken breasts before searing.

    Lemon Garlic Chicken Breast

    Marinate the chicken breasts in a mixture of lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Sear as usual and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

    Spicy Cajun Chicken Breast

    Coat the chicken breasts in a homemade or store-bought Cajun spice mix before searing. This will add a flavorful and spicy kick to your chicken.

    Creamy Mushroom Sauce

    After searing the chicken, remove it from the pan and add sliced mushrooms. Cook until they release their moisture and become golden brown. Add garlic, thyme, and a splash of chicken broth or white wine to deglaze the pan. Finish with a bit of cream and serve the sauce over the chicken.

    Caprese Chicken Breast

    Top the seared chicken breasts with slices of fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.

    Serving Suggestions

    With Vegetables

    Serve the chicken breast with a side of roasted or steamed vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, or green beans. A simple olive oil and lemon dressing can enhance the flavors.

    Over Pasta

    Slice the chicken and serve it over a bed of pasta tossed with olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs.

    Add some grated Parmesan for extra richness.

    In a Salad

    Slice the chicken and add it to a hearty salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and a tangy vinaigrette.

    In a Sandwich

    Place the sliced chicken breast in a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and a spread of your choice, such as mayo or mustard. For an extra touch, use a ciabatta or a whole grain roll.

    With Grains

    Serve the chicken over a bed of quinoa, farro, or brown rice. Add some sautéed spinach or kale for a nutritious and satisfying meal.

    Pan-seared chicken breast is an essential recipe that every home cook should master. Its simplicity, versatility, and potential for customization make it a go-to dish for any occasion.

    Whether you’re preparing a quick weeknight dinner or impressing guests with a gourmet meal, this method ensures delicious results every time.

    Remember, the key to perfect pan-seared chicken breast lies in the details: properly seasoning, preheating the pan, and allowing the chicken to rest. With practice, you’ll develop the intuition and confidence to create a perfectly seared chicken breast that’s juicy, flavorful, and beautifully golden brown.

    Enjoy experimenting with different seasonings, sauces, and sides to make this classic dish your own.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I know when the chicken breast is done?

    Using an instant-read thermometer is the best way to ensure your chicken breast is cooked to perfection. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat; it should read 165°F (75°C). If you don’t have a thermometer, check for clear juices running from the chicken and a firm texture.

    What if my chicken breasts are very thick?

    If your chicken breasts are particularly thick, you can either pound them to an even thickness using a meat mallet or slice them horizontally to create cutlets. This will help them cook more evenly and quickly.

    Can I use frozen chicken breasts?

    It’s best to thaw chicken breasts completely before cooking to ensure even cooking. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost function on your microwave.

    What oil is best for pan-searing chicken breast?

    Neutral oils with a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or grapeseed oil, are ideal for pan-searing. Olive oil can be used but may smoke at higher temperatures.

    How do I prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan?

    Ensure your pan is adequately preheated before adding the oil and chicken. Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed until it naturally releases from the pan. If it resists when you try to flip it, give it more time.

      Troubleshooting Tips

      Chicken Sticks to the Pan

      Make sure the pan is hot enough before adding the chicken. Wait until the oil shimmers. Also, avoid moving the chicken too soon; it should release easily when a crust forms.
      Dry Chicken

      Overcooking is the main cause of dry chicken. Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. Rest the chicken after cooking to allow juices to redistribute.
      Uneven Browning

      Ensure the chicken breasts are of even thickness. If they are too thick, pound them to an even thickness or butterfly them. Also, cook in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan.

      Health Benefits

      Chicken breast is a lean source of protein, making it a healthy choice for many diets. It’s low in fat and high in essential nutrients like niacin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. Including chicken breast in your diet can support muscle growth, aid in weight management, and provide sustained energy.

      Mastering the art of pan-seared chicken breast is a valuable skill that opens up a world of culinary possibilities. From simple weeknight dinners to elegant dishes for entertaining, this versatile recipe forms the foundation for countless meals. By following these tips and techniques, you can consistently achieve a juicy, flavorful, and beautifully browned chicken breast.

      Experiment with different seasonings, sauces, and accompaniments to make this dish your own. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family, or guests, pan-seared chicken breast is sure to impress. Enjoy the satisfaction of creating a perfectly seared, delicious chicken breast every time.


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