Chicken pieces (or cubes) are the foundation of so many delicious family dinner recipes. From pasta to salad to stir fry, everything is better with chicken!
Today, I’ll show you how to cook chicken pieces in a pan so they get that perfect sear and stay juicy in the center. You’ll find tips, what equipment to use, and a few marinades and seasoning recipes to make your chicken extra flavorful.
Perfectly Pan-Seared Chicken Pieces
When cooking chicken pieces in a pan, you want the exteriors to be crispy, golden brown, and the centers to be juicy- this is what makes incredible chicken dinners.
And it’s much easier to achieve when the chicken is cut into smaller pieces. I also love that you can prep this recipe ahead and keep it in the fridge for a convenient option to add to meals throughout the week.
If you need help getting quick and easy meals on the table each night, then check out my weekly meal plan. It’s a done-for-you solution that will save you time and money every single week!
What Do You Need to Cook Chicken Pieces in a Pan
Here’s what you need to make perfectly cooked chicken with golden, crisp exteriors:
- heavy-bottomed cast-iron or stainless steel skillet
- cooking oil – just a little olive or neutral cooking oil.
- spatula – to flip the chicken.
- boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs
- meat thermometer – to check for doneness.
How to Cut Chicken Breasts
In this recipe, we’re using boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. I find this is less time-consuming than trying to cut a whole chicken, remove the skin, debone, and cook it.
To cut a chicken breast or thigh into 1-inch cubes, place each fillet onto a sturdy cutting board and hold it with your non-knife hand. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the piece of chicken into ¼-inch slices. Next, cut each of those slices crosswise into cubes.
If you want to cook chicken slices for fajitas or a stir-fry, you can just cut each fillet into ¼-inch thin strips.
Cooking Chicken Pieces in a Pan
Here’s how to make tender chicken pieces with golden brown crusts in less than 10 minutes:
- Prep the chicken
Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes or thin strips, then season with your favorite seasoning blend or add them to a large zip bag with your choice of marinade. *If using a marinade, allow 20 minutes or up to 24 hours for the chicken to marinate.
- Get the pan hot
In a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken pieces and cook undisturbed until the bottoms are opaque with golden brown patches. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
Remove the chicken from the heat and add to your favorite recipe.
Watch this video to see the whole process!
How Long to Cook Cubed Chicken Pieces in a Pan
Cubed chicken will cook in a pan in just 7 minutes. I like to give them a good sear on the first side, then flip and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F, about 3 additional minutes.
There is also a visual cue to look for when checking for doneness that doesn’t involve burning your fingertips. Using the tip of a knife, poke a few chicken pieces. If the juices run red, they need more time, if it’s clear, the chicken is cooked.
Seasonings & Marinades for Cooked Chicken Pieces
I recommend using a seasoning blend to sprinkle over the cut chicken before cooking. The granules adhere to the surface of the chicken pieces and give them a crust.
Marinades will also add flavor, and you can marinate the uncooked chicken pieces overnight then cook it the next day. I have a collection of delicious marinades, and seasonings blends you can use that will add serious flavor.
- Quick Lemon Chicken Marinade
- Cilantro Lime Marinade
- Sweet & Spicy Chicken Marinade
- Taco Seasoning– 1 ½ teaspoons per pound
- Creole Seasoning– about 1 ½ teaspoons per pound
How to Use Chicken Pieces
Chicken is my family’s #1 protein of choice and having cooked chicken on hand makes it so easy to add to recipes.
You can serve cooked chicken pieces over salads, add them to cooked veggies for a stir-fry, or stir into cheesy pasta. There’s also nothing wrong with keeping it simple and dipping them into your favorite sauce, just like chicken nuggets.
How to Cook Chicken Pieces in a Pan
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking
- Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes on a large cutting board. Sprinkle the salt, black pepper, and garlic powder over the chicken pieces and toss to coat.
- In a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken pieces in an even layer and cook undisturbed for 4 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
- Remove from heat and add to your favorite recipe or serve with dipping sauce.