If fried chicken is the Sunday special, today’s recipe for quick Pan Fried Chicken Breast is the weeknight warrior.
Because the chicken breast is well seasoned, this recipe can hold its own as a stand-alone entrée, and it’s versatile enough to dice and add to salads, sandwiches, pasta, and more.
Baking Chicken Breast vs. Pan Frying
While both baking and pan frying can give you tasty, juicy chicken, if you are in a hurry, it is better to pan fry it.
- Because baked chicken breast is easy to dry out, it needs time to brine or marinade before you cook it.
- Pan frying chicken breast is a more moist cooking method because of the oil. The pan’s high temperature cooks the chicken quickly, before it can dry out. Brining or marinading isn’t needed, making the recipe faster. If you like, you can marinade pan fried chicken with this Chicken Marinade, but it’s not necessary.
- Baked chicken breast is a good option if you have more time (even 15 minutes of brining will create juicier chicken) and you want to use less oil or no breading.
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast is another excellent option if you are in a hurry.
How to Make Pan Fried Chicken Breast
This simple method for cooking chicken in a pan gives you fast, tasty results.
I like to make a big batch, enjoy some right away, then use the leftovers throughout the week.
- Chicken Breast. A versatile, lean protein with universal appeal. It cooks quickly and pairs well with the pan fried chicken breast seasoning mixture.
- Flour. To create the irresistible crispy pan fried chicken breast exterior (one reason why this Chicken Piccata shines!). Either white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour will work well.
- Spices. A blend of paprika, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne gives the chicken smoky, herby, and savory flavor.
- Canola Oil. Using an oil with a high smoke point is critical. Canola oil has a neutral flavor too, making it ideal for this recipe.
- Lemon. A finishing touch of brightness and acidity.
- Cover the chicken with plastic wrap, then pound it.
- Dry and season the chicken.
- Stir the flour and spices together.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate. Heat oil in a skillet.
- Pan fry chicken breast for 7 to 9 minutes, flipping after 4 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes, then DIG IN!
- To Store. Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, pound the chicken breasts. Cover and refrigerate them until you’re ready to finish the recipe. The flour and spice mixture can be stirred together up to 1 day in advance. Cover and store at room temperature.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Cast Iron Skillet. My choice for making this pan fried chicken breast.
- Pie Dish. The easiest way to make your pan fried chicken breast breaded.
- Meat Tenderizer. A great tool for pounding meat.
I think we should eat this pan fried chicken for the Sunday special too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Because pan frying is a fast and hot cooking method, I do not recommend it for bone-in cuts of chicken, which need a longer, slower time to cook through properly. If you’d like to make bone-in chicken, check out this Baked Bone-In Chicken or Baked Chicken Thighs instead.
The difference between pan fried chicken and pan roasted chicken is the cooking method. Pan fried chicken is made in a skillet on the stovetop, and pan roasted chicken is typically baked in the oven. Sometimes, the pan roasted chicken will be seared on the stovetop before it is transferred to the oven to finish cooking.
Leftover pan fried chicken is a fabulous salad topping. Try it over Spinach Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing. Leftovers are also delicious tossed into your favorite pasta dish. Try it with Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese or Eggplant Pasta.
Pan Fried Chicken Breast
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts about 3 medium breasts
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper divided
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne optional
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- Chopped fresh herbs optional for serving
- Remove chicken breasts from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Place on a cutting board, cover with a large sheet of plastic wrap (optional to keep things tidier) and gently pound into an even thickness (about 1/2 inch).
- With a paper towel, pat dry, then season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.
- In a wide, shallow dish such as a pie plate, stir together the flour, paprika, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
- Working one at a time, dredge each chicken breast in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Transfer to a clean plate.
- Heat the oil in a large, sturdy skillet (such as cast iron or stainless steel) over medium-high heat. Once it is hot and shining, add the chicken, presentation (smooth) side down.
- Cook 4 minutes on the first side without disturbing the chicken, until it is deeply golden and releases easily from the pan. Flip and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes on the other side, until the chicken reaches 155 degrees on an instant read thermometer (chicken is considered cooked at 165 degrees F, but will continue cooking as it rests).
- Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate or cutting board. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Enjoy warm with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of herbs.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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