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Cast Iron Chicken Breast Recipe

This cast iron chicken breast recipe makes perfectly cooked chicken breasts in under 30 minutes. It’s easy. And it’s reliable.

Unlike other recipes, you don’t need any fancy kitchen cookware or gadgets. There’s no Instapot. No air fryer. All you need for delicious pan-roasted chicken breasts is an inexpensive cast iron skillet that goes from stove top to oven.

If you are new to cooking, one of the first things you should learn to make is simple, pan-roasted chicken breasts. And if you are an experienced cook, you can play around with spice combinations to vary the recipe in an infinite number of ways.

two cooked chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet.

I promise you. These chicken breasts appear on my table nearly every week.

Why boneless chicken breasts

The short answer is ease and convenience. Boneless chicken breasts cook quickly, and you shouldn’t need to trim them of fat, skin, or bone.

The downside is also that boneless chicken breasts cook quickly. So you need to be careful not to overcook them until they become dry.

Chicken breasts can also be cooked quickly by poaching (simmering in a liquid over low heat), and this is a great method for cooking chicken for tacos or chicken pot pies. But reach for other cuts like bone-in thighs or legs if you are going to be cooking the chicken for a longer time.

Tips and tricks

To make this recipe

In addition to chicken breasts and a little oil, you’ll need just two things:

1. A cast iron skillet

If you only have one piece of cast iron in your kitchen, it should be a 9 or 10 inch skillet. They cost about $20 to $30 and can be “pre-seasoned” or you can do it yourself. Rub the pan all over with Crisco or oil and put it in a hot oven for 2 to 3 hours.

You should be gentle with cast iron when you clean it. Don’t use steel wool or hard scrubbing. And make sure to dry it completely after you wash it, or it will rust.

But if you aren’t gentle, you can always bring cast iron back to life by re-seasoning it. Cast iron pans are the best investment ever.

a cast iron skillet.

2. Spices

Make a spice mixture of about 1 teaspoon per chicken breast. You can go simple with salt, pepper, and paprika. Or use one of these other spice mix variations:

  • taco seasoning: 1 teaspoon cumin, one half teaspoon paprika, one half teaspoon salt, one quarter teaspoon pepper, cayenne or other ground chili pepper to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, one half teaspoon thyme, one half teaspoon salt, one eighth teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.
a glass bowl filled with a red spice mixture.

Step by step

Turn on your oven the minute you start making this recipe. Heat your cast iron pan over medium heat, and add a splash of vegetable oil. This very thin coat on the bottom of the skillet will ensure the chicken doesn’t stick.

ProTip: Use oils like safflower, peanut, or canola oil when you’re frying or cooking at higher temperatures. Low smoke point oils like extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil may give your food a scorched taste if they start to smoke.

Use your hands to rub half of the spice mixture over one side of the chicken breasts. Turn them over, and repeat with the second side.

As an aside, you don’t need to dry the breasts. The infectious disease doctor in me needs to tell you not to wash chicken, because all it does is spread bacteria around. You can read more here about other hazards in your kitchen, including many that will surprise you.

When the oil is hot, put the chicken breasts in the cast iron pan (Panel #1, below), and don’t touch them for about 5 to 7 minutes until the bottoms have browned. Flip the chicken breasts over so that the cooked side is up (Panel #2).

two panels showing the steps in making the cast iron chicken breasts.

Turn off the heat on your stove top. You don’t need to cook the second side on the stove top because the cast iron retains all that heat to brown the second side while the breast is roasting.

But that also means that the cast iron pan will be hot! So use an oven mitt or pot holder to transfer the cast iron skillet to the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes until the thickest part of the breasts are 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to serve these cast iron chicken breasts

Here are some ideas:

  • Serve with the world’s best cavatappi mac and cheese and a side salad.
  • Rub the chicken breasts with a taco seasoning mix and make a chicken taco salad with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, a can of black beans, frozen corn, and some toasted sunflower seeds.
  • Add parboiled potatoes and cauliflower to the pan before you put it in the oven.
  • Serve over white rice (because it cooks quickly), steam or roast some vegetables, and top with cilantro.
  • Make a creamy mushroom Stroganoff.
  • Make a fabulous chicken salad with cranberry and pecans.

Substitutions and variations

  • Use a marinade instead of a rub, and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for an hour. For Asian flavors, try a mixture with 3 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, a smidge of sugar, and equal parts of minced garlic, ginger, and chili pepper.
  • Substitute a pork tenderloin for the boneless chicken breasts. Trim the tenderloin, and treat it otherwise the same. Cook pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and then give it a three minute rest after removing it from the oven.

FAQs

How can I tell if it’s done if I don’t have a meat thermometer?

A meat thermometer really is a handy kitchen tool. If you don’t have one, there are a few ways to tell the chicken breasts are fully done. The most reliable is to cut into the breast. There should be no pink remaining to the meat, and the juices should be completely clear.

Can I freeze pan-roasted chicken breasts?

Yes, cooked chicken breasts will keep in the freezer for a few months, but they won’t be moist and juicy after freezing. Use this leftover chicken in soups or stews.

Related recipes

Check out other chicken recipes from the uglyducklingbakery chicken, duck, and turkey archives like these BBQ chicken meatballs, baked coconut panko chicken tenders, or these Parmesan-crusted chicken muffins.

Cast Iron Chicken Breasts

5 from 1 vote
Category: Main Course
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 95kcal
This cast iron chicken breast recipe makes perfectly cooked chicken breasts in under 30 minutes. It's easy. It's reliable. And leftover chicken makes a fabulous chicken salad.
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • 1 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon paprika sweet or smoked
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Instructions

  • Turn on your oven to heat to 425°F.
  • In a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, and black pepper.
    1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Put the cast iron skillet over a stove top burner on medium heat, and add the oil.
    1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
  • When the oil is hot, smear the spices over both sides of the chicken breasts and place them in the pan. Let them cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until the side touching the pan has browned.
    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Flip the chicken breasts over and turn off the heat.
  • Use an oven mitt or potholder to transfer the cast iron skillet to an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast is 165°F.
  • If slicing the chicken breasts, move them to a cutting board and let them sit for a minute or two before slicing.

Notes

This recipe will use about 1 teaspoon of spice rub for each chicken breast.
Spice mix variations:
  • taco seasoning: 1 teaspoon cumin, one half teaspoon paprika, one half teaspoon salt, one quarter teaspoon pepper, cayenne or other ground chili pepper to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, one half teaspoon thyme, one half teaspoon salt, one eighth teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.

Nutrition

Calories: 95kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 356mg | Potassium: 213mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 56IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg
Love this recipe?Mention @Uglyducklingbakery or tag #uglyducklingbakery!

Note: This cast iron chicken breast recipe was originally published 1/1/2021. It was last updated 5/14/2022.

What’s next

If you make this cast iron skillet chicken breast recipe, please leave a comment or rating here. Pretty please!

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References:

  • Safe cooking temperatures:
    https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-internal-temperatures
  • Smoke points:
    https://www.seriouseats.com/cooking-fats-101-whats-a-smoke-point-and-why-does-it-matter

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