Need a quick and delicious entree for dinner tonight? These pan-seared chicken breasts are the perfect solution and an all-purpose protein option you can use to create great-tasting meals for your family.
I still get excited when I come across a new recipe that looks super tasty, and 95% of the time, it involves chicken. Who would’ve guessed? I mean it’s full of protein, and you can cook it 50 different ways without anyone complaining.
And today’s recipe is one of the most popular methods to cook chicken: pan-searing. The chicken itself is super tender with golden-seared edges that pack a ton of flavor.
Seared Chicken Breasts
Searing or pan-frying is a cooking technique in which you cook it on a hot surface until the edges develop a golden brown crust and locks in moisture.
It’s the quickest way to cook delicious chicken, we’re talking 15 minutes from start to finish if you don’t count marinating, but that part can be prepped ahead to save you time.
What You Need to Sear Chicken Breasts
The essential things you need to make perfect seared chicken breasts are a good skillet and oil for greasing.
You’ll also want to season the chicken or add it to a quick marinade. For this recipe, I chose my quick lemon marinade. It’s made with simple ingredients and adds a ton of flavor. Here’s what you need to make it:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves grated garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
How to Sear Chicken Breasts
Making pan-fried chicken breasts on the stove-top is as simple as it gets. Grab your skillet and let’s get cooking!
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large zip bag and add the chicken. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or overnight.
- Heat the skillet
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet. Let the skillet get hot.
- Add the chicken
Add the chicken breasts to the skillet, working in batches if necessary. You want to hear a sizzle once the chicken makes contact with the hot surface.
Cook the chicken on one side for 6 minutes or until the bottom is golden and crispy. Flip and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and allow it to rest 5 minutes before serving or slicing.
Check out this video for a visual on how to make juicy, seared chicken:
Find yourself making chicken for dinner on repeat? Then you are going to love the recipes from my Chicken. It’s What’s for Dinner eBook!
It has over 70+ mouthwatering ideas to make with chicken, like pasta, slow cooker meals, soup, and epic power bowls. I can guarantee you won’t run out of ideas anytime soon.
Best Skillet to Use for Pan Seared Chicken
A quality skillet that heats evenly is important for making perfect pan-seared chicken breasts or any recipe, for that matter. Cast-iron and stainless steel skillets are both ideal. They do a great job of convecting heat which helps the chicken cook evenly and develop those bronzed, slightly crisp edges.
Thicker Chicken Breasts
Chicken breasts tend to be thicker on top with a thin bottom half that tapers off. This shape often results in the bottom half cooking through long before the thickest part reaches 165F, making the majority of the fillet dry and overcooked.
The easiest way to avoid uneven cooking is to butterfly the fillets by slicing the chicken breast horizontally through the center. It opens the fillet like a book so that both sides are the same thickness and creates deliciously juicy chicken.
Definitely worth the additional 2 minutes to butterfly a pound of chicken.
Don’t need the whole thing? See how to cook chicken pieces in a pan here!
Is Pan Seared Chicken Healthy?
Pan searing is a healthy cooking method for chicken that uses minimal oil and ingredients while maximizing flavor. I also love that it’s an easy option to prep ahead and keep in the fridge as a protein source for various meals like my Mediterranean Farro Bowls or salads for lunches throughout the week.
Tips for Juicy Pan Fried Chicken Breasts
Below are additional tips to help you perfect the art of pan-searing chicken:
Cook according to internal temperature
The key to tender chicken is to cook for temperature and not time. One to two minutes before the end of the recipe’s specified cook time, use a meat thermometer to check the thickest part of the fillet. Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F, it’s ready to be removed from heat.
Make sure the skillet is hot
The trick to getting the perfect sear on chicken is a greased HOT skillet. I like to make sure my skillet is at the right temperature by adding a few water droplets. If they sizzle on the skillet’s surface- you’re ready to roll.
Don’t touch it
Once you place the chicken into the skillet, let it cook untouched for 6 minutes. If you try to move it, the chicken will stick to the pan and disrupt the cooking process.
Butterfly the chicken breasts
The quickest way to cook juicy chicken!
Keep the heat at medium-high
If the temperature is too high, the oil will burn and the chicken’s surface will be cooked and the center still raw, which results in dry, bitter-tasting chicken. Keep the heat to medium-high, and everything will be just fine.
How to Serve Seared Chicken Breasts
While pan-seared chicken is delicious all by itself, I’m certain you’ll want to serve it with something else. You can top it over a salad, like this Winter Salad, over a bed of cooked couscous, or pair it with one of these tasty side dishes:
- Lemon Roasted Asparagus
- Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
- Roasted Vegetables
- Sweet Potato Salad
- Easy Roasted Parsnips