How to Make the Perfect Pan-fried Chicken Breast (It’s Easy!)

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how to make the perfect pan-friend chicken breast

I often hear people talk about how difficult it is to cook chicken breast well. Many of my friends and acquaintances seem to get inconsistent results, and most often, end up with dry and tough chicken breast when they make it.

Not so in our family.

You see, over the years my husband and I have picked up on some basic principles to help us cook chicken breast well. These can be applied to almost any recipe or situation.

Basic “Chicken-Cooking” Principles

  1. Salting the chicken prior to cooking (whether salting it directly or soaking it in a brine) breaks down the breast, tenderizing it, and infuses it with flavor.
  2. Dry chicken results when the internal temperature of the chicken gets too high during cooking. Internal temperature is the #1 most important factor to consider when cooking chicken breast. A meat thermometer can help you with this, but as I’ll show you, is not an absolute necessity.
  3. A chicken breast of varying thickness will overcook in one spot before the other cooks through. Use a meat tenderizer to even out the thickness of the breast prior to cooking. If you make chicken breast often, this is a must have! A meat tenderizer is inexpensive and essential to good chicken breast.

Easy enough? Now I’ll show you how to apply these concepts. Let’s pan-fry some chicken breast!

How to Make Pan-Fried Chicken Breast

If you have 1-2 hours before cook time, brine the chicken. Do this by filling a bowl with enough warm water to cover the chicken. Add 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar. (The sugar helps the chicken to caramelize in the pan, creating that tasty brown crust). Then place your chicken breasts in the water and stick it in the refrigerator.

If you don’t have time, simply salt it on both sides.

Creating a chicken brineAbout 25 minutes before meal time, pull the chicken out of the refrigerator. Start preheating your pan over medium-high heat with a couple tablespoons of oil.

preheating oil in the pan

Lay the breasts on a cutting board, cover them with plastic wrap, and pound them with the flat side of your meat tenderizer until they are even throughout.

tenderizing the chicken breastsPlace the chicken breasts in the pan once it’s hot. Let them cook over medium-high on the first side until it is crusty and brown but not burnt, about 6-7 minutes.

Chicken breast cooking in the panOnce you see that the bottom side looks good, flip them, add some chicken broth, turn the heat to medium-low and cover.

Add chicken brothThe chicken may take another 6-7 minutes to finish cooking, but don’t take my word for it! If you want tender, juicy chicken, you have to check it frequently. Don’t let it get a degree above 165°F (the FDA recommended safe temperature for cooking chicken).

As a matter of fact, we pull our chicken off a few degrees below that. We then “let it rest” for 5-10 minutes on the counter while making our pan sauce. During this rest process the internal temp will continue to rise the last few degrees.

internal temperature for chicken

What if you don’t have a meat thermometer? We didn’t for years. The nice thing about chicken and most meats is, God created a built in way to determine doneness… the color.

If you’re not using a meat thermometer, you have to cut into the breast as time goes by and watch it closely. If it’s just a tiny bit pink, it may only take 30 seconds to finish cooking, so be vigilant. The second it looks white throughout, pull it off!

Easy Pan Sauce

As your chicken rests on a plate, you are ready to make your pan sauce. This will greatly enhance the chicken, adding additional moisture and flavor. Plus it’s already half made there in your pan!

Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter quickly in the microwave.

Add butter to chicken pan sauceThen whisk an equal amount of flour into the butter.

Whisk flour into butter for pan sauce

Add this mixture to your pan and stir. It will thicken quickly. Stir until fully incorporated. Add whatever spices your family prefers. We used garlic, salt, pepper and oregano. Add broth until the sauce is your desired consistency and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and serve!

Stir chicken pan sauce

Your done! Now you know how to pan-fry chicken breast.

Perfect Pan Friend Chicken Breast with Pan Sauce

Q: Do you have any tricks for cooking chicken breast? If so, please share them below! You can also share links to favorite recipes in the comments section.


4 Comments on How to Make the Perfect Pan-fried Chicken Breast (It’s Easy!)

  1. Crystal
    August 4, 2014 at 9:38 AM (3 years ago)

    This post is making me hungry, lol!

    • Katie Bennett
      August 4, 2014 at 2:27 PM (3 years ago)

      I’ll have to make this for you next time you’re up! It’s one of our go-to meals for sure.

  2. Kristi
    August 4, 2014 at 3:41 PM (3 years ago)

    Have been waiting for this post! Can’t wait to try it out:) you are a great cook my friend and I have learned many goid recipes from you!

    • Katie Bennett
      August 4, 2014 at 5:18 PM (3 years ago)

      Thanks Kristi!! Let me know how it goes!

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