Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

5 from 8 votes

Pan seared chicken breasts are juicy with a caramelized crust, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner ready in 15 minutes.

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For the most tender chicken with a flavorful golden crust, this easy recipe for Pan Seared Chicken Breasts delivers! Searing your chicken breasts in a piping-hot skillet seals the juices inside the golden, crispy exterior for perfectly cooked chicken breasts every single time. This simple cooking method cooks chicken fast, helping get dinner on the table in minutes!

Juicy pan seared chicken breast in a stainless teel pan garnished with fresh parsley with a small bowl of lemon wedges nearby.
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Whether you’re preparing a simple meal of juicy skillet chicken breast with a side of veggies or cooking chicken to slice and serve on top of broccoli and chicken alfredo or a hearty Mediterranean chicken salad, you can’t beat this recipe’s versatility. It’s truly a game-changer in the kitchen! Getting enough protein can sometimes feel like a chore, but pan-searing chicken makes it so much easier to serve up a tasty, protein-rich main that can be served in a variety of ways, all with minimal effort. 

These seared chicken breasts are also an easy–yet impressive–main dish for special occasions. They’re so fast and easy to make that you’ll get to enjoy more time with your guests, too. Win-win!


Cuisine Inspiration: American
Primary Cooking Method: Stovetop
Dietary Info: Protein-rich
Key Flavor: Chicken & Seasonings
Skill Level: Beginner


  • Foolproof recipe: This sauteed chicken skillet method turns out perfect chicken every time! You’ll never have to suffer through dry or rubbery chicken breasts again.
  • Cooks in 15 minutes: Pan-searing is a quick and simple method that gets dinner on the table fast.
  • Healthy source of protein: Skinless chicken breasts have lower fat content than many other cuts of chicken, making this sautéed chicken breast a lean source of protein.
  • Versatile: You can enjoy these pan-seared chicken breasts in so many ways! Serve them right out of the pan, or slice them into strips to top pasta or layer in sandwiches. The leftovers are perfect for pizza or adding protein to salads.
  • Perfect for meal prep: Make a batch of these juicy chicken breasts to add to healthy meal-prep lunches, then enjoy them all week! You can reheat them or not–this sautéed chicken breast is delicious either way.

Ingredients You’ll Need For Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts

Ingredients for recipe: oil, chicken breasts, butter, and seasonings.
  • Chicken breasts: Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can start with fresh chicken breasts or frozen ones–just make sure you thaw them completely in the refrigerator first.
  • Seasoning: I use a mix of thyme, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I love thyme because of its savory, earthy flavor. Paprika adds a peppery, slightly sweet note, while garlic powder is an easy way to add a hint of garlic flavor without overpowering your chicken. Rub them with salt and pepper on the chicken before searing for maximum flavor.
  • Olive oil & butter: Olive oil is ideal for sautéing at high temperatures, while butter adds juiciness and even more flavor.
  • Substitute chicken thighs: This method also works with chicken thighs! Just be sure to sear the smooth side of the chicken first. Thighs can be thicker, so they might take a few more minutes to cook. Use your meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is completely done.
  • Swap in chicken tenders: Searing is a great way to cook tenders, too! Because they’re smaller, chicken tenders will take less time to cook–around three minutes per side (use your meat thermometer to be sure it’s cooked through!)
  • Use salt & pepper only: For an even simpler seared chicken breast recipe that’s still delicious, you can leave out the thyme, paprika, and garlic. Just season both sides of the chicken with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

How to Make Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  2. Season the chicken on both sides with the spice mix.
  3. Place the seasoned chicken breasts into the hot pan, trying not to overcrowd them. Once they’re down, don’t move or flip them!
  4. When the chicken develops a golden-brown crust and releases easily from the pan with a spatula, it’s ready to flip and cook until the juices run clear.
4 image collage making recipe: 1- chicken breasts on a cutting board with paper towels patting them dry, 2- coating chicken with dry rub, 3- seasoned chicken in a skillet before cooking, 4- after cooking.

Tips for Cooking the Best Chicken Breast on the Stove Top

  1. Pound your chicken breasts for more even and tender meat: While this extra step is not required, if you prefer thinner and/or more evenly cooked chicken, you can pound your chicken breasts to make them thinner. Place the chicken breasts inside a plastic storage bag and pound them with a mallet or rolling pin until they’re about ¾” thick. Thinner chicken will cook faster, so keep an eye on the cooking time.
  2. Be sure to pat your chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Drying your chicken before covering it with the seasoning mix helps ensure the crispiest crust.
  3. Use a stainless steel pan or cast iron skillet to cook the chicken. That’s because they conduct the heat very well, and give the best sear on chicken.
  4. Make sure the skillet is hot before you add your chicken. This is very important because it will help prevent the chicken breast from sticking the majority of the time. When a pan is properly preheated, the moisture in the food wicks away from the pan and allows the oil to do its job of coating the surface.
  5. Don’t overcrowd the pan. When you place your chicken breasts too close together, it lowers the overall temperature of the pan, which will affect the quality of the sear. The hot pan is critical! Also, overcrowding keeps the moisture from releasing properly from the chicken, retaining it instead, which also prevents a good sear from forming.
Pan seared chicken breast on a large oval platter, garnished with fresh parsley and lemon wedges.

What to Serve With Sautéed Chicken Breast

How to Store & Reheat Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

Store your cooked chicken breasts in an airtight container in the refrigerator. As always with chicken, you’ll want to be mindful of safe food handling practices when storing it to eat later. In general, avoid eating cooked chicken that has been at room temperature for two hours or more. Always thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator.

It’s safest to reheat leftover chicken only once, eating it in one sitting rather than storing and warming it another time.

To reheat your chicken breasts on the stovetop, add them to a sauté pan over medium heat. Add a splash of water or chicken broth to the pan to help keep the chicken from drying out, and cover with the lid. Warm for 7-8 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

To warm in a microwave, cook on high for 2 minutes. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer, and if the inside temp hasn’t yet reached 165°F, continue heating in 30-second increments until heated through.

How long will Pan Seared Chicken Breasts last in the fridge?

Store leftover seared chicken breast in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two to three days.

Can I freeze seared chicken breasts?

Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken. Just place it in an airtight container or freezer bag and keep it in the freezer for up to two months.

To thaw frozen cooked chicken, place it in the refrigerator to thaw completely, then reheat it.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know my chicken is done?

The juices will run clear and the chicken will feel firm, but the very best way to know that the chicken is cooked thoroughly and safely is to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. The temperature should register at least 165°F.

What do I do if my chicken starts to burn on the outside before being cooked in the middle?

If your chicken begins to burn on the outside before it’s cooked through, flip it over and reduce the heat. You can cover the pan to trap the heat, which will help the interior continue cooking without drying out the chicken breast. Or, you can continue flipping every minute or so, which will help prevent additional burning until a meat thermometer inserted into the chicken comes to 165°F.

Why did my chicken breast turn out paler than in the photos?

To ensure a golden brown sear, start with a hotter pan. Resist the urge to flip the chicken before the crust has formed, as that will prevent it from developing.

What is the best type of skillet to use?

A heavy-bottomed pan like a cast-iron skillet is an excellent option for the best sear. Cast-iron and stainless steel skillets heat most evenly, helping to turn out perfectly cooked chicken.

My oil and butter started to smoke before adding the chicken. Should I start over?

Yes, I recommend starting over if your oil and butter begin to smoke, which indicates your pan is too hot. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool. Then, discard the burned oil and butter, rinse the pan thoroughly, and dry it. Start again at a lower heat.

Juicy pan seared chicken on a plate cut into slices about halfway up next to a spring mix salad.

This pan seared chicken breast recipe is so fast and easy, turning out juicy chicken breasts every time! Whether you’re meal-prepping, preparing a quick and healthy family dinner, or feeding a crowd, you’ll want to make this sautéed chicken breast again and again.

More chicken recipes:

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Pan Seared Chicken Breast

Pan seared chicken breasts are juicy with a caramelized crust, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner ready in 15 minutes.
5 from 8 votes
Servings 4 pieces
Calories 357
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
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  • Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, whisk together thyme, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the seasoning mix.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter to the pan, allowing it to melt and heat up.
  • Carefully place the chicken breasts into the hot pan, making sure not to overcrowd them.
  • Sear the chicken breasts for 5 minutes without touching until they develop a golden brown crust. Flip the chicken to the other side and continue to cook until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F, 8-10 more minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and let them rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top and your desired side dishes.


Storage: Store refrigerated in an airtight container. As always with chicken, you’ll want to be mindful of safe food handling practices when storing cooked chicken to eat later. In general, avoid consuming any cooked chicken that has been at room temperature for two hours or more. Always thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator. Finally, be sure to keep in mind that it’s safest to only reheat leftover chicken one time, eating it in one sitting, rather than storing and warming it an additional time.
Reheat on the stovetop: Add cooked chicken breasts to a saute pan over medium heat. Add a splash of water or chicken broth to the pan to help keep the chicken from drying out, and cover with the lid. Warm for 7-8 minutes, until the internal temperature is 165° F.
Reheat in the microwave: To warm in a microwave, cook on high for 2 minutes. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer, and if the inside temp hasn’t yet reached 165° F, continue heating in 30-second intervals until it’s reached 165° F.


Calories: 357kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 49g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 153mg, Sodium: 578mg, Potassium: 899mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 419IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
5 from 8 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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  1. Kathy says:

    Looks good will try it soon

    1. Yumna says:

      Hope you enjoy it!