For the juiciest cast iron chicken breast, this easy recipe will become your go-to weeknight dinner. In just a few simple steps you will learn how to make succulent boneless skinless chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet. This simple recipe creates a flavorful crust on the outside while ensuring the inside is juicy & tender.
This is an easy one-pan recipe perfect for dinner any day of the week. If you are like me, you love cooking with your cast iron.
You can make just about anything in a skillet, from great dinners like Zucchini & Garbanzo Bean Curry to sides like Blue Cheese & Bacon Brussels Sprouts to desserts as good as my recipe for Old-Fashioned Strawberry Peach Cobbler.
Why the Cast Iron Skillet is Best for Cooking Chicken Breasts?
There are several reasons why I recommend pan-searing chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet. I am using a 12" Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. I have had it for decades & I still love it. Any 8", 10", or 12" skillet will work for this but one with a heavy bottom is best.
Here is why cooking any piece or cut of chicken in cast iron is the best.
- Cast Iron retains heat better than any type of pan or skillet which ensures even cooking.
- A well-seasoned cast iron pan is nonstick without chemicals, sprays, or cooking in lots of oil.
- The high heat in a cast iron skillet helps create a crust on the exterior of the chicken which seals in the juices of the meat - plus that crust is beautiful with great flavor and texture.
- Cast iron pans are easy to clean & last a lifetime - and beyond!
Ingredients for Cast Iron Chicken Breasts
This recipe is quick & easy with a short list of ingredients. It takes only 4 fresh ingredients plus a blend of spices for the most delicious pan-cooked chicken ever.
Spices add flavor to this light & uncomplicated dish. There is no oil which makes it also low-fat. With just a bit of butter & fresh garlic for a quikc pan sauce. The chicken remains healthy & part of a skinny diet.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts - for quick even cooking compared to bone-in breasts.
- Salted Butter - for the pan sauce.
- Fresh Garlic - added flavor.
- Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley - fresh herbs add brightness & color.
- Spices - salt, black pepper, paprika, & onion powder
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to Cook Chicken Breasts in a Cast Iron Skillet
For juicy cast iron skillet chicken breast, this recipe is fantastic. This one-pan meal also has a quick & simple garlic butter sauce.
Here are the easy steps for cooking seasoned chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet on the stove.
- Prep the Skillet & Chicken
- Cook the Chicken Breasts
- Check if Done
- Make the Garlic Butter Sauce
- Check if Done
- Sauce & Serve
1 - Prep the Skillet & Chicken
It is best to cook meat when it is close to room temperature. This is true, especially for steaks and chicken. About 20-30 minutes before you want to begin cooking, take the chicken from the refrigerator.
Open the package, pat the chicken dry on all sides, & set it on the kitchen counter. Once it is almost at room temperature, time to season it and get that skillet hot.
Combine the spices in a small bowl and mix. Sprinkle it liberally on both sides of each piece of chicken.
Place the empty cast iron skillet on the stove. Turn it on medium-high for about 3-5 minutes.
2 - Cook the Chicken Breasts
Once the pan is good and hot, it is time to start cooking. Gently place each chicken breast into the hot skillet. Then leave it alone. Do not flip it, poke it, or move it.
You want the exterior to sear and brown so it creates a crust. The only way to do that is to let it cook without touching it. Let the chicken cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side.
It is ready to flip when using a set of tongs to lift it from the pan it can be done easily. If the chicken releases from the hot skillet without sticking or tearing, it is ready to turn.
Flip the chicken over when it is golden and no longer sticks to the pan.
Continue cooking on the other side for 5 more minutes.
Once both sides of the chicken have cooked on high heat, turn the skillet down to medium-low heat. The crust is done and now it is time to cook it on a lower heat to get the center cooked.
3 - Check if Done
After both sides are seared, the chicken is cooked slowly over a lower heat. I cooked my chicken breasts on 4 in my Lodge cast iron skillet. I cooked it for 10 minutes more on each side.
After 20 minutes of low-heat cooking, start checking to see if it is done. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check to see if it is 165°F in the thickest part of the chicken breast.
4 - Make the Garlic Butter Sauce
Once the chicken is done cooking, it is time to make the pan sauce. Turn the stove off and remove the pan from the heat. Also, use tongs to remove the chicken from the pan and set it on a plate to the side.
PLEASE NOTE: each piece of chicken will vary in size, shape, & weight. This recipe is a guide to estimate how long it will take to pan-cook one pound or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts. Always cook until the center registers 165° on a meat thermometer.
For the final yummy step, make a butter garlic sauce. It will only make a small amount but it adds a pop of flavor & moisture that brings this whole dish to a new level.
Place the hot pan back on the stove. The residual heat should still be in the skillet. If not, turn it on to low heat. Add the butter to the hot pan and let it melt.
Add chopped garlic and stir to brown slightly. As soon as the garlic is aromatic and the butter just starts to brown, the sauce is ready.
6 - Sauce & Serve
Add the chicken breasts back to the pan. Flip to coat all sides.
Once the chicken and butter sauce is done, it is time to serve the cast iron chicken breasts. Use tongs and plate the chicken.
These two big pieces of chicken are enough to feed 4 people. I recommend slicing it to enjoy. I like to slice it and then add it back to the pan to get every drop of the garlic butter. Top with fresh parsley leaves.
Substitutions & Variations
This is such a simple recipe that does not need any changes or alternates. But of you want to make it your own or have dietary restrictions, try some of these choices.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - instead of a chicken breast, you can use this recipe for boneless skinless chicken thighs - cooking time to reach 165° will be shorter.
- Shallots - use a combination of garlic and shallots for even more flavor.
- Butter - instead of butter use olive oil for a dairy-free recipe.
- Spicy - Add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the spices.
- Low-Sodium - instead of the spice blend in this recipe, use your favorite low or no-sodium seasoning blend instead.
- Creamy Deluxe - double the amount of butter and garlic for more sauce & add a splash of cream.
This recipe is already low-carb, keto, gluten-free, & diabetic-friendly.
All of these great tips are shared in the recipe. But these are so good and important they are worth mentioning again so you don't miss them.
- Let the chicken rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking.
- Heat the pan to high heat before adding the chicken.
- DO NOT flip the chicken until it releases easily from the pan.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the chicken is 165°.
- Serve as soon as you slice it.
The most important piece of kitchen equipment for this chicken breast recipe is a good quality cast iron skillet. This inexpensive kitchen tool should be in every home kitchen. It is so versatile, easy to use, easy to clean, & lasts decades. Invest in a good quality pan and you will be rewarded with amazing food for a lifetime.
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Leftover cooked chicken will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or 30 days in the freezer. Place cooled chicken in an air-tight container or Ziploc bag to store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Here are answers to some common questions. I hope you find what you need but if not, you are always welcome to send me a comment and I will get back to you.
A cast iron skillet that is seasoned, is naturally nonstick. No oil or sprays are needed when cooking in one. But you can do more to ensure your food releases easily when cooking.
The key to making chicken (or steak, pork, etc) that does NOT stick to your cast iron pan, is two important tips! #1 The very first step in the cooking process of this recipe is important. #2 Add meat that has sat at room temperature for about 30 minutes before adding it to the pan. Do not chicken that is ice cold straight from the refrigerator.
This simple chicken recipe stores well for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If you like to meal-plan, this chicken breast made in cast iron is for you. You can cook it, slice or dice it, & reheat it to enjoy it later.
It is great to add to salads, wraps, soups, & casseroles. Use it wherever you may use leftover rotisserie chicken. It is great in my Chicken & Cheese Keto Enchilada Recipe.
More Skillet Chicken Recipes
Here are more great recipes for cooking chicken in a skillet. These are all easy to make & deliver a lot of wow! So for something tasty & cooked in one pan, these recipes are the best on the blog.
Here are some delicious side dishes that pair well with this chicken recipe. So if you want to know what to serve with boneless skinless chicken breasts that are pan-fried, here are some good recipes. I enjoy a quick salad like a fresh Spinach Blueberry Salad.
Cast Iron Chicken Breast
- cast iron skillet
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Bring the chicken to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the 4 spice mix ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Pat the chicken dry and place it in a rimmed shallow dish. Sprinkle the spice mix on all surfaces of the chicken.
- Place the empty cast iron skillet on the stove. Turn it on medium-high for about 3-5 minutes to preheat.
- Once the pan is good and hot, it is time to start cooking. Gently place each chicken breast into the hot skillet. Then leave it alone. Do not flip it, poke it, or move it.
- Let the chicken cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side.
- If the chicken releases from the hot skillet without sticking or tearing, it is ready to turn. Flip the chicken over when it is golden and no longer sticks to the pan.
- Continue cooking on the other side for 5 more minutes.
- Once both sides of the chicken have cooked on high heat, turn the skillet down to medium-low heat.
- Cook the chicken for an additional 10 minutes on each side.
- After 20 minutes of low-heat cooking, start checking to see if it is done. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check to see if it is 165° in the thickest part of the chicken breast.
- Turn the stove off and remove the pan from the heat. Also, use tongs to remove the chicken from the pan and set it on a plate to the side.
- Place the hot pan back on the stove. The residual heat should still be in the skillet. If not, turn it on to low heat. Add the butter to the hot pan and let it melt. Add chopped garlic and stir to brown slightly.
- As soon as the garlic is aromatic and the butter just starts to brown, the sauce is ready. Add the chicken breasts back to the pan. Flip to coat all sides.
- Serving suggestion - slice and add back to the pan to coat with the garlic butter. Top with chopped fresh parsley.
|Amount per serving
|% Daily Value*
|Total Fat 14.2g
|Saturated Fat 6g
|Total Carbohydrate 1g
|Dietary Fiber 0.3g
|Total Sugars 0.1g
|Vitamin D 4mcg
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Safe food handling techniques, practices, & habits are very important when cooking with raw meat & poultry. Follow these tips to ensure you have a clean kitchen & food that is delicious & safe to eat.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't let food sit out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove