Pan fried chicken breasts are delicious and an easy dinner recipe to make. The breading is a simple mix of parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and a couple common spices. They are not deep fried, we only use a little oil.
These are quick to prepare and they cook quickly, making them perfect for a busy night. You can even take out the days frustrations while prepping the chicken! We pound it down to flatten it if the pieces are too thick so they cook evenly. It can be a great stress relief.
You can fry them in any frying pan that is at least 12 inches or a large Dutch oven. We usually use our 12 inch cast iron skillet or the 6 quart Dutch oven. I prefer the Dutch over for it's deep sides, but it has to be at least 10 inches wide. Ours is 10.5 inches and the chicken just fits nicely.
If you prefer sauce and cheese, our chicken parmesan is similar to these chicken breasts.
Chicken - Boneless chicken breasts are the best for this recipe. I do love thighs, but not when we make these.
Eggs - No substitutions recommended, they are used for coating the breading.
Oil - Olive oil is my favorite, but you can use your favorite. Just be sure it has a high enough smoke point to fry with. You are not deep frying so most oils will be ok.
Bread crumbs - We prefer regular bread crumbs for these tender pan fried chicken breasts. Panko are good for many things, but the crumbs are a bit bigger and don't coat as evenly.
Parmesan cheese - Grated parmesan is highly recommended, we use the store bought grated. We often garnish them with freshly shredded parmesan, but the breading is best to have grated in it.
Flour - We use all purpose flour, it is put on before dipping in the egg.
Salt - Recommended to enhance the flavors, can add more or less.
Pepper - No substitutions recommended.
Garlic - Garlic powder should be used, fresh garlic will not work in this recipe.
Cayenne - Optional but recommended. It is not enough cayenne to make it too spicy, add more if you like spice!
Making the chicken
These pan fried chicken breasts are easy to make. Here are some tips to help you make them perfect every time.
Prepping the chicken
If your chicken is thick and/or uneven in size, you will want to pound it down first. This is an important step because the thicker pieces will take longer to cook if they are not pounded down. You don't need any special equipment to do this.
If you are using a meat mallet, use the flat end not the end with the spikes. You are not tenderizing the chicken, just flattening it to cook evenly. If you do not have a meat mallet, no worries because you don't need one.
Place the chicken on a cutting board and place a sheet of wax paper on top (or you can put chicken in a storage bag.) Take a pan, pot, rolling pin or anything you think will work and pound that chicken down to flatten it. It is best to have them the same thickness throughout the whole piece.
I use a storage (or freezer) gallon size bag to mix the flour, salt, garlic, pepper and cayenne in. It is the easiest way to coat the chicken breasts evenly with the flour mixture. Close the bag and shake the flour mix well before adding the chicken. The flour helps to create tender pan fried chicken by locking moisture in before the egg. The seasoning in the flour adds some nice flavor to the chicken.
Before adding the chicken, take a paper towel and gently pat each one to dry them a little bit. If you do not dry them a little, the juice might cause lumps in the flour and result in not getting an even coating. You don't have to go crazy here, just pat some of the excess moisture off.
Add the chicken to the bag and seal the bag leaving a little bit of air in the bag, but not a lot. Make sure it is sealed all the way to prevent a mess. Be sure to keep one hand on the top of the bag (to prevent it from opening and making a mess) and shake well moving the chicken around to coat it even with the flour mixture.
Beat the 2 eggs into a bowl with about 1 Tablespoon of water. Mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together in another bowl. Be sure both bowls are a good size for breading the chicken.
Take 1 piece of chicken out of the flour mixture at a time. Dip into the egg mixture and be sure the egg coats the whole piece. Transfer over to the bread crumb mixture and coat well. I usually flip the chicken a couple times to coat it nicely. Set aside and repeat with the remaining chicken.
Frying the chicken
I love to use my Dutch oven for this to prevent splattering, but sometimes I use my cast iron frying pan. My Dutch oven is a 6 quart that is 10.5 inches wide, my cast iron pan I use is a 12 inch pan. Most 10 inch frying pans are a bit shallow on the sides and may get messy so I do recommend using a 12 inch or larger if using a frying pan.
If you are using the frying pan, it is recommended to use a splatter shield to prevent oil splatters all over the stove. We are not using a lot of oil, but it is enough to make a mess if you don't use a shield. If you use a large Dutch oven, the sides are high enough to keep any mess inside the pan.
Heat your pan up over medium heat. If your stove runs very hot, you may want it just below medium. For pan fried chicken you want the chicken to sizzle when it goes in the pan, but you want it to brown nicely on each side and not burn before done.
Once the pan is heated, add in the oil and heat for about 1 minute. The amount of oil you need is estimated here in the recipe, you want it to be enough to have between an eighth to a quarter of an inch of oil in the bottom of the pan. We are not deep frying them (I really do not like cleaning up all that oil personally), we are just frying them in a smaller amount of oil.
Once the pan and oil are heated, add the chicken. It should sizzle when you put it in. If it doesn't, you may need to add extra time to the cooking. Cook for about 8 minutes and carefully lift up a piece of chicken to see if it is browned nicely on the bottom. If it is, flip and cook for another 8 minutes.
Check the internal temperature to be sure that it is at 165 degrees Fahrenheit before removing from the pan and placing on a paper towel lined plate. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Frequently asked questions
No, you should heat your pan first. Many oils will begin smoking if you leave them in the pan to heat up for too long before adding the food. It is best to heat the pan all the way then add the oil for about 1 minute.
You can leave that step out, but for best flavor and the most tender pan fried chicken I recommend you use the flour layer.
It will last about 3-4 days in the fridge as long as it is properly stored. I like to use it cut up to make a chicken sandwich with it! You can reheat it as well, but it can dry out if overheated in the microwave.
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You don't have to use cast iron, but we definitely recommend it! The pan fried chicken may stick to stainless steel so I recommend either cast iron or non stick.
- Dutch oven - I love my Dutch ovens for many things! They are a great piece of cookware to have around but you can use a frying pan for this recipe if you prefer. The Dutch oven is deep enough to keep the grease inside the pan.
- Cast iron skillet - There are many to choose from and Lodge is well known for their cast iron products. If you prefer a frying pan over the Dutch oven, this one is a 12 inch and has a handle holder.
- Splatter shield - This is the one I have and I love it! A splatter shield is not needed with a Dutch oven but is recommended with a frying pan.
- Digital thermometer - I have this one and love it! It's not expensive and I use it for everything.
Pan Fried Chicken Breast
- 4 chicken breasts boneless
- ⅓ cup olive oil see notes
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon water
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup Italian style bread crumbs see notes
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese grated
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional or more if you like it spicy
- If the chicken breasts are thick or uneven, pound them down to flatten so they are the same size throughout. Gently pat them with a paper towel to remove some excess moisture.4 chicken breasts
- Mix together flour, salt, garlic, pepper and cayenne pepper in a gallon sized bag. Close the bag and shake well.Add all 4 chicken breasts to the bag. Close the bag and shake until all the chicken is fully coated with the flour mix.¼ cup flour, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Whisk the eggs with the water in a bowl large enough to dip the chicken in.2 eggs, 1 Tablespoon water
- In a bowl large enough to dip the chicken, mix together the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.½ cup Italian style bread crumbs, ⅓ cup parmesan cheese
- Dip the chicken one piece at a time in the egg mix. Then dip into the bread crumb mix and flip a couple times to fully coat it.Repeat with remaining pieces.
- Heat a large Dutch oven or 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in the oil. You may need more oil, be sure it covers the bottom of the pan by at least an eighth of an inch. Heat oil for about 1 minute.⅓ cup olive oil
- Carefully put the chicken into the pan. If using a skillet, I recommend using the splatter shield. It is not needed if using a large Dutch oven.Cook for 8 minutes. Carefully lift the chicken to see if it is nicely browned on the bottom, if not cook another 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook for about 8 minutes, until the internal temperature is 165° Fahrenheit.
- Remove from pan and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.