These pan seared chicken breasts with tomatoes and basil are so tasty, you'd never guess they're so easy to make. Ready in just 20 minutes, it's the perfect meal for a busy day.
I love cooking, but having all the kids in the house and many other things going on make it hard for me to find time to cook.
So this week I made this very simple chicken in the skillet recipe, that is all cooked in just one skillet. It's very easy and quick to make, and the best part is the flavor! It's simply amazing!! As you deglaze the pan and add a little butter, a delicious sauce is created in the skillet, so you can pour it over your fillets. No words to describe it... It's just DE-LI-CIOUS!!!
Preparing the chicken breasts
First thing you need to pay attention is the thickness of the chicken breasts. If they are too thick and uneven they'll take a long time to cook, and you'll probably end up with one well cooked end, and one dry, overcooked end.
So, what I like to do is halve it lengthwise, or pound it with a mallet, so the whole fillet has the same thickness.
In my case, since the chicken breasts I bought were thick enough, I preferred to halve it and double my fillets. This way I got 4 fillets out of 2, with the perfect thickness to cook in just 10 minutes.
How to get the perfect sear on chicken breasts
- Pat chicken breasts dry. Moisture is the enemy of the maillard reaction (browning).
- Start with a very hot pan. Adding the breasts when pan is not hot enough can make them loose water, consequently slowing down browning, and preventing them from creating that nice flavorful crust.
- Use olive oil or vegetable oil. Although extra virgin olive oil and butter have great flavors, because you have to bring the pan to a high temperature, they'll start to smoke and loose their properties and flavors.
- After adding the chicken breasts to the pan, be patient, and wait until it has seared and created a nice crust on the surface. If you attempt to move it and it's stuck to the pan, it's a sign that's not time to move it yet.
Ingredients and possible substitutions
The ingredients for this pan seared chicken breasts are all very affordable and easy to find. Here they are:
- Chicken breasts
- Grape tomatoes (cherry tomatoes or even diced tomatoes would work)
- Basil (you could leave it out, but it does bring a great flavor to the dish)
- Olive oil (vegetable oil also works)
- Salted Butter (unsalted also works. Adjust the salt if necessary)
- Garlic (fresh or from a jar. If using from a jar you can increase the amount a little bit, since the flavor is not as strong as when using fresh)
- White vinegar (rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar are also good options)
- Smoked Paprika (you can use common paprika, but, if possible, try buying the smoked kind. It's life changing in the kitchen!)
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Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Basil
- 2 chicken breasts (halved lengthwise)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp salted butter (divided)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 6 tbsp water
- ½ tbsp white vinager
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 4 big basil leaves cut into slices (chiffonade)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Over a meat board halve chicken breasts, lengthwise (you'll have 4 fillets now). Salt and pepper each of them on both sides.
- Preheat olive oil in a big skillet over medium-high heat. Sear chicken breasts on both sides. It should take about 5 minutes per side (depending on how thick the fillets are). Add 3 tbsp of water and cover for the last 2 minutes. This will help to cook chicken a little faster, and to not burn the fond that's being created on the bottom of the pan. Chicken is done when temperature reaches 165ºF, or it's no longer pink inside, and juices run clear. Remove fillets from pan and place them on a plate, covered with foil to keep it warm.
- Lower heat to medium-low, add 1 tbsp of butter and saute garlic until it starts changing color. Add 3 tbsp of water, vinegar and smoked paprika. Mix it all together, scrapping the fond off the bottom of the pan. Then add the tomatoes and let it cook for about 1 minute. Turn off the heat, add the last tablespoon of butter, and stir it in until completely melted.
- Bring fillets back to the skillet, spoon sauce in the skillet over the fillets, and sprinkle it with basil.
- Enjoy it with some white rice and salad.
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