Seared Chicken Breast with Quick Pan Sauce Recipe

Grilled Chicken
Michael Krinke / Getty Images
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings

This technique and the accompanying sauces also would work well with turkey cutlets, boneless pork chops, or sliced pork loin.

Recipe reprinted with from How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat, 200 Recipes From the Editors of Fine Cooking by Pam Anderson (Taunton Press).


  • 4 trimmed boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloin removed and cooked separately or saved for another use
  • dash of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups flour for dredging
  • Ingredients for pan sauce (see the recipes below)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 Tablespoons low-salt chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons prepared curry powder
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary (minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons low-salt chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers
  • 2 Tablespoons cider
  • 1/4 cup chopped prunes
  • 1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tomatoes (minced)

Steps to Make It

  1. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with ample salt and pepper.

  2. Put a handful of flour in a pie pan or other sided plate and position it near the stove.

  3. Combine the sauce ingredients (see options below) of your choice in a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup or small bowl.

  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

  5. Dredge one of the chicken breasts in the flour, coating both sides well but shaking off any excess.

  6. Increase the heat of the pan to medium high.

  7. Before adding the chicken, test the heat of the pan by flicking in a little of the dredging flour. If the flour sizzles enthusiastically and immediately turns golden, the pan is ready. Add the first floured chicken breast. Then quickly flour the remaining breasts and add them to the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes without moving the breasts. Then, starting with the first one in the pan, turn them over and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes on the other side.

  8. Transfer the chicken to a plate or plates and keep it warm.

  9. Add the pan sauce ingredients to the hot pan and boil, stirring and scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan, over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half.

  10. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and whisk until smooth and glossy. (Tilt the pan to bring the small amount of liquid to one side while you whisk in the butter.)

  11. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Cooking Right Notes: Choose the right size skillet so that the cutlets have neither too much nor too little space between them. A 12-inch pan works best for four cutlets.

Quick Pan Sauces

These sauces are designed for 4 chicken breasts, yielding about 1 to 1-1/2 Tablespoons of sauce per breast. If you decide you want a bit more sauce, increase the total liquid ingredients to 2/3 cup and whisk in a little more butter.

Refer to the above recipe. The instructions are simple. Add the flavorings to the hot pan. Scrape up those yummy stuck-on bits and reduce the liquid by half. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts and serve immediately.

Red Wine and Mustard
1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock
1/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Curried Chutney
6 Tablespoons low-salt chicken stock
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons prepared chutney
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Port with Dried Cherries
1/2 cup port wine
2 Tablespoons dried cherries or cranberries
2 teaspoons seedless raspberry jam

6 Tablespoons low-salt chicken stock
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons drained capers

Vermouth with Prunes
6 Tablespoons sweet vermouth
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped prunes

1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
4 canned tomatoes, seeded and chopped