One of my favorite dinners is a simple chicken breast with some veggies on the side. I used to bake chicken regularly but have recently found that I prefer the taste of sautéed chicken over baked. It’s much more juicy and has a nice little crisp on the outside. The problem is that cooking the perfect sautéed chicken takes some practice. I’ve been working on it and think I’ve finally got it down.
This easy sautéed chicken is perfect for those recipes that call for already cooked chicken and it is a great addition to pasta dishes and salads as well. It’s also great on its own. To make it, you pound the chicken breast, season it, and then sauté it on the stove.
The key to getting this chicken just right is to pound it to even thickness before seasoning and cooking. If you don’t pound it, the thinner parts of the chicken will be overdone once the thicker parts are finally done. You can always slice your chicken breasts in half to make cutlets but I find it easier to just pound the chicken. To do this, lay out a long piece of plastic wrap over your cutting board and place your chicken (smooth side up) on top. Pull the rest of the plastic wrap on top of the chicken. Pound the chicken starting in the middle and work your way out until it’s flat. Use the flat side of your meat tenderizer (mallet) for pounding.
Chicken should always be cooked to 160º F. You don’t have to use a meat thermometer but it just assures you will know when it’s done and help you to not overcook the chicken. When I don’t use my thermometer I tend to overcook it and it’s not quite as good. But the more you make it the better you will get at knowing when it’s done.
Two kitchen tools that I don’t use often but find very useful when I do need them are my meat thermometer and meat tenderizer. I actually have two meat thermometers, one that is an instant read thermometer and one that can be used in the oven.
- 2 medium chicken breasts
- 2 tsp butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano or rosemary (optional)
- Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside.
- Pound chicken breasts until they are an even thickness.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a saute pan (or cast iron skillet) over medium to medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle the spices on both sides of the chicken.
- Sauté the chicken for about 4-7 minutes per side, depending on the thickness.
- Once cooked through, transfer to a plate and cover with foil for 5 - 10 minutes.
- Optional Step: While the chicken is cooling on the plate, you can add 2-3 T chicken broth to the pan and scrape up the crunchy bits on the bottom. Add some squeezes of fresh lemon or lime juice for extra flavor. Simmer for a few minutes. This mixture can be used as a topping for the chicken. I love to put the chicken on a bed of brown rice and then pour a few teaspoons of this mixture on top.
2. Chicken is done when it reaches 160 degrees.
Real Food Tips:
- If it’s in your budget, organic or pastured chicken is best.
- Don’t be scared to use real butter! As long as you use it in moderation, butter can be a part of a healthy diet. My favorite is Kerrygold grass fed butter. It can be pricy but I find it for a pretty good deal at Costco. (Margarine and other butter substitutes are often made with unhealthy vegetable oils and other unnatural ingredients.)