How to Cook Chicken Breasts on the Stovetop – The Foolproof Method

Until recently, cooking chicken on the stovetop went something like this. Step 1: Take out of the freezer and not allow nearly enough time to thaw. Step 2: Cook in lots of oil, turning often to avoid completely charring. Step 3: Cut the chicken (while still cooking in the pan) in an attempt to get the chicken to cook evenly. Step 4: Serve overdone chicken to family with far too much sauce to mask the subpar taste and texture. A friend recently told me about this method and it’s really quite perfect. It’s super easy and gives you perfectly moist chicken every time. You have to keep an eye on the timer, but other than that your attention can be elsewhere during meal prep. I use this method a lot on the weekend if I’m prepping meals for myself during the week (having chicken on hand to bring to the office is a huge time saver). Steps are included below.

Anthropologie plate

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Reality Check. I have a huge fear of undercooked chicken and therefore still never trust the method fully – I generally wait and extra one or two minutes cooking the chicken on low and again with no heat (for a total of 22 to 24 minutes) and they still turn out perfectly moist. But even after cooking them this way 10 times or more, I always think to myself “there’s no way this is going to work.” But it does!

Cooking Chicken Breasts on the Stovetop: Foolproof Method


1. Flatten the chicken breasts. Using fresh or fully thawed chicken breasts, pound to an even thickness. I like to cover with parchment paper to contain any splatter and make for easy cleanup. For pounding I use the bottom of a mason jar.

2. Season the chicken breasts. You can use anything here – from simple salt and pepper to fresh herbs. For this version I used Byerly’s packaged Signature Chicken Seasoning (link here).

3. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat until quite hot – swirl oil to cover pan.

4. Turn down the heat to medium and add the chicken. Cook for one minute without moving. This should just lightly cook the chicken on one side. The third picture shows the desired result. You do not want to sear or brown the chicken.

5. Flip the chicken breasts over and season the other side if desired.

6. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, turn the temperature to low and cook for 10 minutes. Set a timer. Important: do NOT lift the lid – no peeking! (This cooking method requires trust.)

7.  After ten minutes have passed (I have cooked for one to two minutes longer, and the method still works beautifully) turn off the heat and let sit, covered (again, no peeking!), for an additional ten minutes – set your timer again. If you have an electric stove, move off of the heat source.

8. After the ten minutes in step 7 above have passed, your chicken is done! Make sure there is no pink by slicing into the largest part of the chicken or by using an instant-read thermometer to see that the chicken is at least 165 degrees.

5 Comments on How to Cook Chicken Breasts on the Stovetop – The Foolproof Method

  1. megan weizel
    March 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm (8 years ago)

    awesome! sort of the hard boiled egg method. i like it.

    • Kerry
      March 26, 2015 at 9:09 am (8 years ago)

      You are the other one that knows so many tricks – have you tried this before? You’re going to love it! Best part is how easy it is to multi-task while making the main part of the meal!

  2. Healthy Foods
    March 25, 2015 at 9:22 pm (8 years ago)

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  3. Emily
    March 26, 2015 at 3:48 pm (8 years ago)

    Mike and the kids will be thrilled I have this new method! My cooking chicken method is EXACTLY what you listed as your former way and involved lots of water gulping to support getting the dry chicken down:) Can’t wait to try this soon!

    • Kerry
      March 26, 2015 at 8:54 pm (8 years ago)

      No joke, Ella now actually says “I want chicken. But not the yucky chicken.” You’ll love it!


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