Pan-fried Chicken in Butter


I’ve been described as something of a “skin freak” when it comes to chicken and turkey. So it always catches me by surprise when someone says that they prefer skinless chicken breasts. Not as a dietary issue — which is misguided anyway — but they actually don’t like the skin. Baffling.

That doesn’t mean I can’t still do a fabulous skinless chicken breast. Oh, sure, it’s cooked in butter. But as long as it’s skinless, people seem to be happy. I can work with that.


ingredients_Lg2 chicken breasts — boneless, skinless
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
kosher salt
coarse ground black pepper


The first two steps will improve any chicken dish you make: start with the chicken at room temperature, and pound it thin. The longer it takes to get the center cooked, the more likely it is the outside will be tough and dry.

Pounding it doesn’t take any special tools, either. Start by laying out a long piece of plastic wrap on your counter. Sprinkle it with a little water so the chicken slides around instead of tearing. Start with one breast, and fold the plastic over so the chicken is covered.


Using a heavy-bottomed skillet — like the one you’re about to cook the chicken in — pound the breast until it is as flat as you can make it. Start from the thickest part and work your way out.


Compare the size of the pounded breasts with what they looked like in the ingredients picture above.


Coat the breasts on both sides with a generous helping of salt …


and pepper.


Put the flour in a dish or shallow bowl, one that is large enough to lay a breast out flat in it. Place this dish, and the one with the breasts, on the stovetop next to the frying pan. Divide the butter into a couple of small pieces and melt it over low heat.


Once the butter is melted, dredge the breasts one at a time in the flour …


on both sides …


and shake off the excess.


Lay the breasts in the butter, with a little space between them.


Keep an eye on the pan to make sure the butter doesn’t start smoking. (It’s okay for the flour and butter to turn brown.) If it smokes, remove the pan from the heat until the smoke stops, turn the heat down, and keep going.

Cook on the first side until the thinnest edge starts turning white on top …


then flip them over. Make sure there is still a little butter underneath when you flip them. If there’s not, add a little bit before putting them back down.


Cook on the second side until there is no more pink showing around the edge.


Let the breasts rest for at least five minutes before cutting.



  1. Complete novice who just made this and it is excellent. Super easy, super quick and very tasty.

    My only advice would be to not be as generous with the salt as I was!

    Thanks for the recipe.

    • Gord, Vancouver says:

      Awesome! I substituted Italiano spice(my favorite) for salt and pepper and didn’t use flour because I’m off of the carbs. Still turned out delicious. Prepared in a heavy stainless steel frying pan(another favorite). Chicken turned out a nice golden color.
      Thank You!

  2. Glad you liked it. And I’d rather go a little heavy on the salt the first time. If you overdo it, you know, “Okay, good but a little too much salt.” Not enough and you’ll just be disappointed and think it’s a bad recipe.

  3. sickest says:

    very nice. just simple and quick.

  4. I know I'm late to the dance but c'est la vie.

    Question–would you brine this chicken first?


  5. Danelia, you could, but if I wanted really juicy chicken I'd use the yogurt marinade.

  6. Yummy and easy!


  7. Good to know.

    Why kosher salt? or have I missed where you addressed that elsewhere?


    P.S. My son (11 y/o) and I have just discovered sea salt–okay.. I know, I know; we didn't discover it..people have been using it for eons–still it's new to us. From what Wikipedia says wouldn't it work just the same basically?

  8. Danelia, kosher salt isn't ground as fine as iodized (table) salt. It comes in either larger chunks, like sea salt, or sometimes as flakes. Either way, it sticks to the meat better instead of bouncing off and landing in the pan. Yes, sea salt will work fine, too.

  9. I used a generous helping of table salt, fresh ground pepper, and garlic powder on the chicken before dredging them in the flour. The flavor was amazing! The butter adds so much to the flavor of the chicken. It took all of 5-6 minutes of cooking time and the chicken was REALLY juicy and just right! Great recipe!

  10. Drew, trust you to come up with chicken breasts that actually sound GOOD. (Normally I hate white meat!)

  11. i just made this chicken, and i am going to break it up and put it in my “chickenetti.” this is an alternative to buying a pre-roasted chicken for my recipe.
    very good.thank you.

  12. Nicole, you’re right, this makes a really good base for a lot of other dishes.

  13. What a great recipe! I was skeptical to attempt this as first as I am really not much of a chef. I really surprised myself when the chicken came out fantastic (a little heavy on the salt lol, but I’ve seen a few other comments here explaining about using too much as well). This recipe is very easy, does not require many ingredients, cooks FAST, and is absolutely delicious! I might actually buy this book because of this. Excellent posting :)

  14. Yes, Ryan, this is a really subtly-flavored dish. I can see how easy it would be to over-do the salt. I started with too little the first time and adjusted up.

  15. I didn’t try cooking it yet, but I like the step by step photos that you included. Makes it much less stressful for us non cookers.

  16. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I was never taught how to cook, and now that I stay home, I am cooking for my family a lot….. The step by step pictures are wonderful, because I am really clueless when it comes to cooking. I can’t wait to try this tonight!

  17. what setting do u cook the chicken on? low heat?

  18. Yes, this is fairly low. I did it about halfway up on the gas stovetop. When I got the electric, I set it halfway and the butter nearly exploded when I laid the chicken in. Lesson learned: Electric can be much hotter.

  19. I have just one question. Can I do this in a non-stick pan? I noticed that in your pictures you weren’t using a non-stick pan and I was just wondering if it would be bad to use a non-stick pan.

  20. John, non-stick will work fine. You might not get as much browning, but it won’t make a huge difference.

  21. Found your blog about a week ago and spent days just pouring through it all.. I just tried this today, my first recipe from your blog.. it is to die for! Delicious, juicy chicken.. Thank you so much !

  22. Drew, I googled boneless fried chicken for my husband’s birthday dinner, found your recipe and site, and tried your version. It was lovely. I was running low on butter, needing to conserve what I had for the mashed potatoes and green beans, so I fried our chicken in olive oil.

    One question — the recipe stated that the butter should be melted on low heat. No further instructions were given regarding the cooking temperature. Do you do the frying on low heat as well? I got nervous and so cranked it up a bit. …


    • Dina, the low temperature wasn’t because the chicken needed it, it’s so the butter wouldn’t burn. Olive oil can go a bit hotter without scorching.

      I like the flavor the butter adds, but if I wasn’t looking for the extra flavor I’d be frying with olive pomace oil, which has no flavor at all and a very high smoke point.

  23. I’m making this right now, and it smells good! can’t wait to try it..

  24. What temperature are you supposed to cook until?
    Aren’t you always supposed to use a meat thermometer?

    • When you pound the meat flat — this is true for any meat that’s really thin — you can’t find a probe thin enough to tell the difference between the surface temperature and the inner temperature. For example, the probe on my digital thermometer is about 3 mm wide. These breasts were maybe 10-15 mm thick at the thickest part.

      That’s the beauty of pounding or slicing the meat thin before cooking. See for example my post about grilling the perfect steak.

  25. Does the kind of butter you use matter (meaning if its ‘ I can’t believe its not butter’)?? what if the chicken has marinated for 2 days ( 3 pieces 3 different marinades) do I still cover it in flour and salt and pepper??? SUPER new to cooking and am terrified to ruin the chicken :(

    • If you use a marinade, make sure you wipe most of it off before dredging in the flour.

      As for butter, use real butter not margarine. Margarine is seed oil and shouldn’t be considered fit for humans.

  26. Does this also work the same with bone in chicken or only with boneless breast?

  27. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was easy to follow for someone like me who doesn’t really cook. I made this for my boyfriend & he loved it. :)


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