Making the perfect stove top chicken breasts is possible! I am sharing all the tricks and secrets to make moist and juicy pan-seared chicken breasts. No marinating or brining necessary!
An essential cooking skill is knowing how to make tender and juicy chicken breasts in a few easy steps. We’ve all been there: dry, tough, and chewy chicken breasts. Well, that’s going to change today! I am sharing all my best tricks and tips for making the best stove top chicken breasts ever.
It does not require any marinating or brining, which makes putting dinner on the table so much easier. All you need is a meat mallet or a meat tenderizer tool. So let’s get started!
The Secret to Moist and Juicy Chicken Breasts
It’s so simple: pound the chicken breast to even thickness, no more than 1/2 inch thick, using a meat mallet.
- Pounding the chicken to 1/2 inch thick prevents overcooking. If the chicken breast is too thick, it will take much longer for the center to fully cook, resulting in overcooked meat overall.
- Pounding to even thickness ensures that the cook time required is the same for the entire chicken breast.
- Pounding the chicken with a meat mallet or meat tenderizer tool breaks down the fibers, resulting in tender meat.
- Safety first! Cover the chicken with plastic wrap before pounding…unless you want all that bacteria flying all over your kitchen counter top.
How to Pan-Sear Chicken: Step-by-Step
- Using a meat mallet or tenderizer tool, pound the chicken breast to even thickness: about 1/2 inch thick, and remember to cover chicken with plastic wrap or use a large ziploc bag!
- Season generously on both sides: after seasoning, let it sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate.
- Heat some olive oil on a large pan on medium heat: The pan should be large enough. If too crowded, the chicken will steam instead.
- Cook for about 6-8 minutes on each side until internal temp reaches 165 degrees F.
- Transfer chicken to a plate and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing: This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender chicken breast. Tip: cover with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
- Slice and serve!
One more note…some people like to use a rolling pin to “pound” the chicken, but I do not recommend it. Meat tenderizers have a textured side shaped like mini pyramids designed to break down fibers effectively.
That’s all! It really is super easy and you only need about 30 minutes from start to finish.
It’s also a very versatile recipe. You can season the chicken with your favorite spices. I love using Italian herbs or oregano, along with some garlic powder.
Here are my favorite chicken breast recipes:
- strawberry and spinach salad with herbed chicken
- mediterranean grilled chicken salad
- cajun chicken alfredo
- chicken fajita bowls
- easy chicken parmesan
- the best chicken pot pie
- chicken quesadillas
Thank you for reading and please don’t forget to pin this recipe! Much appreciated.
Tips for Pan-Searing Chicken Breasts
- Pound the chicken to even thickness to about 1/2 inch thick. See “The Secret to Moist and Juicy Chicken Breasts” section above for details.
- Season generously on both sides and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking for flavor maximization!
- Use a large pan: you want to give each chicken breast space to pan-sear and not steam.
- Make sure the pan and oil are hot enough. It should sizzle when you put in the chicken. Especially with stainless steel pans, if it is not preheated, the meat will stick to the pan like crazy.
- Cook on MEDIUM heat.
- Do NOT skip this step! Let the cooked chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Letting it rest allows the juices to redistribute for tenderness.
Juicy and Moist Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts
- 2 chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Spices to taste - (oregano, Italian herbs, garlic powder, etc)
- Pat dry the chicken breasts. Cover with plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet or meat tenderizer tool, pound to even thickness to about 1/2 inch thick.
- Season with salt and pepper on both sides. For each chicken breast, I usually use 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and about 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. If desired, season with other spices too! I like to use garlic powder, Italian herbs, or oregano. Let the seasoned chicken sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking. This will make the chicken more flavorful.
- Heat some olive oil on a large pan to medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken breasts. If the pan is hot enough, it should sizzle. Cook on each side for about 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.
- Remove from pan and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. This will ensure the juices redistribute, resulting in a more tender chicken breast. If desired, cover with foil to keep it warm. Enjoy!
- Equipment: meat tenderizer or meat tenderizer tool, meat thermometer,
- Safety first! Cover the chicken with plastic wrap before pounding to prevent bacteria from flying all over your counter top.
- Heat control: cook on medium heat to ensure even and steady cooking.
- Let the chicken rest before slicing: 10-15 minutes should be enough.