How to Perfectly Cook Chicken Breast on the Stove

updated Nov 8, 2023
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There are as many variations on cooking chicken breasts 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 breast on the stove 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. Learn how to make this classic dish — no sticking to the pan or bland flavor, guaranteed.

Quick Overview

How to Cook Chicken Breasts in a Pan

Cook a boneless, skinless chicken breast over medium-high heat in a pan that’s wide and deep to accommodate the chicken and keep splatter to a minimum. Flip the chicken after 5 minutes (don’t poke, prod, wiggle, or try to flip). After you’ve flipped, add 1 tablespoon of butter and cook for another 5 minutes for a golden, juicy piece of meat.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How Long to Cook Chicken Breast on the Stove

You’ll cook chicken breast on the stove for roughly 10–14 minutes, flipping halfway through the cook time.

What Kind of Pan Should I Use for Chicken on the Stove?

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.

What Ingredients Do I Need?

For classic pan-seared chicken breast, you’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about one pound total)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil and butter
Credit: Joe Lingeman

How Can I Tell When My Chicken Is Done?

An instant-read thermometer is the best way to tell when the chicken is done. You’ll want to cook the breasts until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.

What to Serve with Pan-Seared Chicken Breast

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

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter or ghee


  • Measuring spoons

  • Knife and cutting board

  • Paper towels

  • 10-inch or larger skillet

  • Tongs

  • Instant-read thermometer


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  1. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Pat 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Season all over with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a 10-inch or larger skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes.

  3. Carefully add the chicken to the hot pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Swirl the pan just before adding the chicken to evenly distribute the oil. Add the chicken and do not touch, poke, or move the chicken. Cook until browned on the bottom, 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.

  4. Flip the chicken and cook until it reaches 165°F, 5 to 7 minutes more. Reduce the heat to medium. Flip the chicken over and add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee right between them. Pick up the pan and give it a gentle swirl to distribute the melting butter. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F, 5 to 7 minutes more.

  5. Slice and serve. Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate or clean cutting board. Let rest for 3 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.