How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Skillet

Both bone-in or boneless breasts present many options for getting the chicken on the table in 30 minutes or less, since the breasts cook in less time than thighs or legs. Choose bone-in breasts if you want to serve each diner an entire breast, or opt for boneless breasts for quicker cooking times and for recipes that call for bite-size pieces of meat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking all poultry until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.

Fried and Sauteed Dishes

In oil heated to 350 F, bone-in chicken breasts fry in 12 to 15 minutes when coated with a wet batter made with 1 part milk to 3 parts flour plus 1 egg; cut the time in half for strips or nuggets, and decrease it slightly for boneless breasts. Sauteed chicken cutlets or strips take about 3 minutes per side. Cook cutlets in a few tablespoons of oil without any breading or coat them by dredging them first in flour, followed by egg white, then with seasoned breadcrumbs. Use Parmesan cheese to coat the chicken if you have egg or gluten allergies.

Stir-Fried Dishes

Use either a boneless breast or debone the breast yourself for stir-fries of all kinds. Cut the chicken into cubes or strips, and set them aside while you cook aromatics, such as onions and garlic, and longer-cooking vegetables, such as broccoli and red bell peppers. Remove the vegetables from the pan; then add the chicken, making sure you haven't crowded the pan, which can cause the chicken to steam instead of brown. Cubes or strips cook in about 3 minutes. Vary the stir-fry with jarred sauces, such as hoisin sauce or curry paste, and add chicken stock until the sauce gets to the consistency you prefer; to thicken the sauce, add a tablespoon or so of cornstarch.

Stews and Sauces

A large 10- to 12-inch skillet makes enough stew or sauce for about 4 servings, with the chicken, cut into cubes or strips, cooked gently in the sauce for 5 to 6 minutes. To make curried chicken, toss chicken cubes in flour before adding them to a curry sauce; the flour on the chicken helps to thicken the sauce. For gumbo, make a roux with browned flour and oil; then cook chopped onions, garlic, celery and green bell pepper before stirring in chicken broth to create a sauce in which to cook chicken, slices of sausage and shrimp.

Exotic Options

Mild, white chicken breasts benefit from exotic seasonings, such as a mix of cumin, paprika, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne that you rub into blackened chicken before sauteing. Cooking blackened chicken results in lots of smoke, so turn your fan on high before starting to cook. You can also cook chicken skewers in a large skillet for a Thai satay. Begin by tossing cubed chicken in a mix of ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt and a dash of sugar; let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours. Then lay the skewers in an oiled skillet and cook them on each side for about 2 minutes. Serve the satay with a Thai-inspired peanut sauce.

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