Pan frying chicken breasts is easier than you think. I learned this “secret” technique while in culinary school. Many fine dining restaurants use this process. First the chicken is pan fried in a thin layer of natural, high smoke point oil until it achieves a beautiful golden brown color on both sides. I love to use a combination of ghee (clarified butter) or avocado oil. Once the chicken is golden brown it is then finished in the oven. I use a 375F degree preheated oven and bake the chicken for a few minutes until it reaches a minimum of 155F to 165F internal temperature. The breasts will continue to cook while resting for 5 to 10 minutes. This method or technique prevents the breasts from drying out – it’s perfectly tender and juicy.
What’s great about this entire meal, is the fact that it is relatively quick and easy. While the chicken is baking it’s easy to use the pan drippings, know as fond, to make a delicious sauce. The sauce adds another depth of flavor and texture to the dish. I love serving this chicken breast dish with an easy sautéed baby spinach with garlic and olive oil.
About the fats I use in this recipe:
Avocado oil – there are two reasons I love to use. It has a high smoke point, which simply means that it holds up well to high heat and it has a neutral flavor. The smoke point is around 520 degrees Fahrenheit. It is great for deep frying as well. The downside is that is somewhat expensive and I find it cheaper to purchase a large bottle which I find easily on Amazon. I use this Brand of Avocado oil.
Ghee or Clarified Butter – is simply butter that is cooked on low heat to remove the water content. Ghee specifically is cooked a little longer than clarified butter to attain a nuttier flavor. Because the water is removed from both ghee and clarified butter, it has a higher smoke point of approximately 465F Fahrenheit. They both have a stable shelf life, meaning it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Whole butter on the other hand needs to be refrigerated.
What’s the best cooking vessel to use when pan frying chicken breasts?
I love to use a good quality stainless steel deep sauce pan, like an All Clad Pan. The size used should be large enough to be able to handle the flipping of the breasts without issues. It is not necessary to use a non stick pan as it will not allow for maximizing the golden brown color. With a good quality stainless steel pan, enough oil and the right heat temperature the chicken will never stick.
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How to cook the perfect Pan Fried Chicken Breasts, with Pan Sauce & Sautéed Spinach
An easy and delicious meal that will make you feel like you are eating in an expensive fine dining restaurant. And it's relatively healthy.
FOR THE CHICKEN BREASTS:
FOR THE PAN SAUCE:
- Reserve pan fat about 1 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons shallots finely minced
- 1 ounce white wine vinegar
- 1 ounce Prosecco or white wine
- 4 ounces chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon capers rinsed (can add up to 2 tablespoons capers)
- 1/2 ounce cold butter cut into several chunks
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
FOR THE SAUTEED SPINACH:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 10 ounces baby organic spinach
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
PREHEAT OVEN 375F DEGREES
SEASON AND COOK CHICKEN BREASTS:
Season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper
In a large deep sauté pan, add the ghee and avocado oil. Use medium to medium high heat to heat the oil until you see ripples in the oil.
Add the chicken breasts, skin side down.
Note: Adjust the heat down to medium if necessary. You do not want the oil to be smoking nor do you want the heat too low.
Cook the skin side down until golden brown and the skin is crispy. The breasts are ready to flip when they are no longer sticking to the pan.
Flip the breasts and continue cooking until golden brown.
Remove the breasts to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.Turn off the stove.
Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature by inserting it into the thickest part of the breasts. If the breast temperature is between 155F to 165F it is done.
If less than 155F, place in a 375F degree preheated oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 155F to 165F.
Note: The breasts will continue to cook while resting. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of the fat/oil in the pan.
MAKE THE SAUCE WHILE THE CHICKEN IS COOKING IN OVEN OR RESTING.
In the reserved pan fat and brown bits, add the shallots. Turn on the stove to medium. Saute 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant and softened.
Note: Do not brown the shallots.
Add in the vinegar and Prosecco. Stir scraping any brown bits incorporating into the sauce. Cook until reduced to almost dry (au sec).
Add in the chicken stock. Cook until reduced to half, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add in the capers. Stir.
Turn off the stove or reduce the heat to low. Whisk or stir in the butter 1 to 2 chunks at a time. Stir each time until melted. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
Note: To test the texture of the sauce, use a back of a metal or wooden spoon. Run finger down the middle and if the sauce stays separated on the back of the spoon, it is ready.
COOK THE SPINACH:
In a large deep sauce pan, add the extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Turn on the heat to medium or medium low. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir and cook the garlic until softened – 1 to 2 minutes.
Note: don't brown the garlic as it changes the flavor of the spinach.
Add in the spinach. Turn up the heat to high. Keep mixing the spinach to allow it to wilt quickly. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Once the spinach is wilted and beautiful bright green, turn off the heat. It's ready.
Serve the chicken breasts on a layer of sautéed spinach and drizzle the sauce over the breasts. Enjoy.
Tutorial Video Available for How to cook the perfect pan fried chicken breasts with pan sauce & sautéed spinach.
Nutritional information will vary depending on actual serving size.