There are as many variations on cooking chicken breast as there are cooks, and I'd say that is a very good thing, as it ensures we never grow tired of this dinner staple.
Pan-seared chicken breast, cooked in a little oil with salt and pepper and finished with a generous knob of butter, is the first way I learned to cook chicken and a technique I always go back to. The resulting chicken has a golden-crisp exterior with a still-juicy interior, and is just as welcome served with steamed vegetables as it is atop creamy Alfredo pasta.
Making Juicy Golden Chicken Breast on the Stove
Kitchn has many tried-and-true techniques for chicken on the stovetop. Some are sautéed, while our most popular version is pan-steamed. This technique takes what we know and love from these other techniques to make a chicken breast with a golden, pan-seared exterior and a juicy interior.
For Your Information
- This technique is best for a 10-inch or larger skillet, preferably straight-sided and not nonstick. Cast iron is a great option if you've got it.
- You'll need two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about one pound total), salt, pepper, oil, and butter for this recipe.
The Smart Steps for Golden, Juicy Chicken Breast
- Start with a wide, deep pan and add oil. We're going to cook the chicken over medium-high heat, and we want to have plenty of room for the two breasts. Using something wide and deep that accommodates the chicken and keeps splatter to a minimum.
- Don't move the chicken for a full five minutes once in the pan. Once the chicken is in the pan, don't poke, prod, wiggle, or try to flip the chicken for a full five minutes. If you can't easily flip the chicken with tongs, it's not ready for flipping yet — and it won't be golden-brown.
- Flip it once and don't touch again. Flip the breast one time only, with the goal of golden-brown color on each side.
- Finish with butter. The butter, which would have burned if added in the beginning, will add flavor and some color at the end of cooking.
Serving Your Golden Chicken
My favorite use for this golden, juicy chicken is topping creamy chicken Alfredo; the contrast of the chicken with the creamy sauce is heavenly. But this basic technique can be used to start off any number of meals like chopped chicken salads, chicken wraps, and even chicken sandwiches.
How To Cook Golden, Juicy Chicken Breast on the Stove
What You Need
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Measuring cups and spoons
Knife and cutting board
10-inch or larger skillet (not nonstick)
- Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Thoroughly dry the chicken on all sides with paper towels. Season with the salt and pepper on all sides.
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Heat the oil in a 10-inch or larger skillet, preferably straight-sided and not nonstick (cast iron is a great option), over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes.
- Carefully add the chicken to the hot pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Swirl the pan just before adding the breasts to evenly distribute the oil. Add the chicken one at a time and do not touch, poke, or move the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes. If you try to turn the chicken and it feels stuck, it isn't golden and crispy or ready to flip.
- Flip the chicken and cook until it reaches 165°F, 5 to 7 minutes more. Flip the breasts over and add the butter right between them. Pick up the pan and give it a gentle swirl to distribute the melting butter. Cook until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F, 5 to 7 minutes more.
- Slice and serve. Remove the chicken breasts to a plate or clean cutting board. Let rest for 3 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.