Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts

I woke up today feeling very hungry and craving something meaty and filling. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ingredients to make one of my staples… so I’ll just blog about it instead and drool over old photos!  This is one of my favorite simple preparations of chicken that is spectacular.  It’s definitely not low-fat, though, so if you’re calorie counting you might want to skip this one.  This is also the first part of my two-part recipe for Creamy Chicken Rotini… but that’s another blog, another day.

comfort food at its best!

Pan-Seared Chicken Breast!
serves 4


4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (believe me, they still turn out wonderful!)
3 T of butter, softened
1 Tbsp. oregano, dried
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper (I like my spice! Use less or just cut it out if you’re not a heat-lover)
Note on the above spices: dried spices work much better in this recipe.  They seem to stick to the chicken and the butter a lot better, so I wouldn’t recommend going with fresh unless as a garnish.
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt to taste


Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Heat an OVENPROOF non-stick skillet on high. While heating, mix all the dry ingredients into the softened butter.

this is the color we’re going for

Pat the chicken dry and – this is where it can get messy – cover one side of the chicken breasts with half of the butter mixture, trying to get as much to stick on as possible.  I use my hands because that technique seems to work better at getting the butter to stick – if you’re completely averse to this, feel free to use a basting brush or whatever other tool you have in mind.


Once the pan is HOT (might wanna turn on the oven fan for this next part), plop that buttered side of the chicken down and – VERY IMPORTANT – do NOT move it.  I know its tempting, but it will not get that beautiful golden sear you see up above if you move it around.  Let it sear 2 minutes.  While you’re waiting, go ahead and spread the other half of the chicken with the rest of the butter mixture. Flip the chicken breasts and immediately place into the oven for about 14 minutes.  Chicken is a little trickier to cook than steak, but here’s a tip from the folks at Real Simple: gently press your thumb and pinky together, then feel the muscle at the base of your thumb.  This is how firm you want the chicken to feel when you press down on it with the flat part of a spatula/fork/whatever – just don’t pierce the chicken or it will dry out.  This is the general rule for well-done steaks (yuck) but works for chicken, too.

a little tip from real simple!

Once the chicken is done, remove the pan from the oven – make SURE to use a hot pad!  I’m not kidding – the amount of times I’ve burned myself on a pan that just came out of the oven is ridiculous.  In fact, I just did it last night.  My mom taught me a little trick – take the oven mitt and put the pan’s handle inside of it for the remainder of its time out of the oven.  It’s very easy to forget that that pan was at 350˚ 5 minutes ago.  Not fun.

a little image help from the examiner

Anyway, place the chicken on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to allow to rest around 5 minutes.  Splash that red wine vinegar/red wine into the STILL VERY HOT pan and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom.  Pour this over the chicken and serve!  I love serving it with mashed potatoes garnished with oregano to soak up that delicious sauce and the juices that run out of the chicken breast.

that’s what I call tender, moist chicken


Because of the red wine vinegar in this recipe, I’d go with a red wine to balance.  If you used red wine instead of vinegar to create the pan-sauce, then that would probably be best to drink with the chicken.  I’d suggest something with a somewhat sweeter characteristic – for me, this doesn’t mean a sweet red.  I despise those!  But something along the lines of a Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, California’s Napa or Sonoma (2009 was an AMAZING year for pinot), or a Californian Zinfandel would be perfect.  In fact, I’d recommend an incredibly valuably priced wine:

Ravenswood Zinfandel

Ravenswood Zinfandel, about $8/bottle.  Don’t let the price fool you… this is one of my favorite drinking wines, and will soon be yours too if you enjoy lighter reds.

I hope you enjoyed this post!  This is a perfect meal to impress that special someone on date night or just to give yourself a decadent treat for minimal amounts of  work and money.

Bon appetit,

5 thoughts on “Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts

  1. Pingback: Bacony Brussels Sprouts « Wine to Walnuts

    • As far as oven time goes, I’d say bake the chicken breasts for about 30-45 minutes and check with a meat thermometer (until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF). Keep in mind though that if you are leaving the skin on when you sear them, you’ll want to start at a lower pan temperature, say medium to medium-low for about 5 minutes (skin burns very easily – low and slow is the way to go). You also might want to consider spreading the butter mixture under the skin so it melts into and flavors the meat as well. Yum!

  2. Pingback: Delicious, Yet Quick and Healthy – Chicken, Quinoa, and Tomato Salad – going somewhere

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