Skillet chicken breasts are easy to cook, tender and juicy, and make an amazing change from the dreaded dry-as-a-bone grilled chicken you can get anywhere. Dress yours up with the flavor of Old Bay and change the way you think about chicken!Jump to Recipe
20 minutes until dinner and you haven’t made a plan. Isn’t that just the worst feeling?
When I get stuck, skillet chicken breasts are a fast and easy way to make dinner filling and delicious. I love the Old Bay seasoning here as well–it’s not a flavor most people expect on their chicken and the blend of butter and oil used for frying makes the final result feel a little bit rich and just so good.
How do I pan fry chicken and not dry it out?
The key to not drying out skillet fried chicken is to make sure you don’t over cook it.
Use a meat thermometer to take your chicken to just under the ideal temperature of 165 and then let it come up to temperature while it rests on the counter.
This will ensure that you don’t over cook the breast meat and it stays juicy.
Make sure to rest your chicken breasts for 5 to 8 minutes or up to 15 minutes so the juices can redistribute and won’t run out all over the cutting board when you slice the meat.
How to know when your chicken breasts are done
Chicken breasts are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, no pink remains in the meat and it’s firm to touch. A simple meat thermometer is a valuable tool!
What oils are best for frying?
I prefer saturated animal fats for frying over oils like vegetable or canola. You can read more about why we stopped using vegetable oil.
Avocado oil has a very high smoke point and using it in combination with butter which has a lower smoke point helps keep the butter from burning but also imparts flavor to the chicken.
You can use ghee, lard, beef tallow, refined coconut oil or duck fat for frying–all of which I really like.
How long does it take to cook chicken in a cast iron pan?
Depending on how large the chicken is, boneless breasts can take between 15 and 20 minutes total and bone-in, cut up chicken can take 45 minutes or longer.
If your chicken breasts are very large, cut them in half horizontally to thin them out so they cook more quickly. If your chicken breasts have a thick end, use a meat mallet or heavy skillet to thin the breast meat to an even thickness.
What is Old Bay Seasoning?
Old Bay seasoning is a classic spice blend typically used in crab boils in the south and around Maryland. It’s a spice mix made largely of paprika and celery salt. You can buy it or make a batch homemade.
There have been some shortages in supply but you can try getting it on Amazon if you can’t find it in your grocery store’s seafood section.
Ways to season skillet chicken
Herbs and spices shine on the blank slate chicken has. Try these seasonings to dress up yours:
- Lemon pepper
- Herbes de Provence
- Old Bay
- Taco seasoning (homemade is best)
- Ranch dressing mix (homemade mixed with some oil makes a great marinade)
- Chinese five spice
- Cajun seasoning
- Montreal steak seasoning
- Simple single spices like garlic powder, onion powder, or dried herbs like rosemary and tarragon
Side dishes to serve with skillet chicken
Chicken goes with just about anything! Try these fabulous recipes on the side:
- Caesar salad
- Baked macaroni and cheese
- Au gratin potatoes
- Sauteed green beans
- Roasted zucchini slices
- Orange and ginger asparagus
Other chicken recipes to try
Skillet Chicken Breasts with Old Bay
- Working with one chicken breast at a time, cut each one in half horizontally into two thinner breasts.
- If you have one very thick end, use a skillet or heavy meat mallet to pound the breast meat to an even thickness.
- Sprinkle the Old Bay and salt on both sides of the chicken and rub the seasonings in with your hands. Set aside.
- In a 10-inch heavy skillet (I use cast iron) add the butter and oil and heat over medium until the butter melts but doesn't smoke. About 4 minutes or so.
- Add the chicken breasts to the skillet. They should sizzle immediately.
- Cook on the first side until nicely golden; about 6 minutes. Flip and cook on the second side 6 minutes more. Reduce heat to medium low and cook chicken, turning it one more time until it reaches an internal temperature of 165, about 5 to 6 minutes more until evenly golden brown.
- Transfer to a cutting board and let the chicken breasts rest 5 to 8 minutes to redistribute the juices. Slice and serve warm.