pan-caramelized chicken breasts

Simple Pan-Caramelized Chicken Breasts

I want to share something with you that’s so simple it’s hardly even a recipe – more like a method. But it’s one of my go-to foods in my arsenal of keeping me away from simple carbs because it’s quick, easy, and delicious both hot and cold!

All it is is chicken breasts, sauteed in a cast iron pan until caramelized and crisp and flavorful. Here’s the best thing about this chicken: since it’s delicious cold, this is perfect for food on the go. If I’m going to be somewhere that I need to pack lunch, or on a trip and want to take easy protein along, I’ll cook up three or four chicken breasts this way, cut them into bite sized pieces, and store in a container. All I have to do is pop a few in my mouth whenever I feel peckish and they’re so good – so completely flavorful and satisfying. So if you’re stuck for what to do about lunch on the go without being able to eat sandwiches anymore, this is your answer!

A note about cookware: For this to really work, a cast iron skillet is really necessary. There’s no way you’ll ever get that beautiful brown, caramelized goodness from a nonstick pan. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet you can always do this anyway in whatever pan you have and it’ll taste fine – but it won’t come close to the fantastic goodness that a cast iron skillet will give it! (consider this your motivation to go get one. A 12 inch Lodge pan at Target is only like $20, so what are you waiting for?)

Get yourself some chicken breasts. I like to sort of even them out with a meat mallet if the one end is especially thick. Just pound it until it’s flatter. It’ll cook much more evenly that way!

pan-caramelized chicken breasts IMG_3555

Season them on both sides with whatever you want. I usually do salt, pepper, sage, and rosemary.

pan-caramelized chicken breasts

Heat your skillet over medium-high heat until good and hot, and then put in a generous amount of some sort of fat. I like to use ghee, but most people don’t have that on hand. A swirl of olive oil and a pat of butter would also work, as would coconut oil. Toss in a few cloves of garlic sliced into pieces, and lay your seasoned chicken in the pan.

Pan-Caramelized Chicken Breasts

Let them cook on that side until the edges of the chicken are opaque white and firm. It should take 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick your chicken is.

IMG_3355Pan-Caramelized Chicken Breasts

When you flip them, the underside should look like this.

pan-caramelized chicken breasts


Cover with a lid if you have one (or cover with tin foil if you don’t have a lid) and let cook for about five more minutes.

And they’re done!

pan-caramelized chicken breasts

Serve them up with some salad and it’s lunch or dinner in less than half an hour.

Pan-Caramelized Chicken Breasts

Or cut them up and put them in a container to eat for easy lunches all week. Put them in a container to eat on the go. Take them along with you in a cooler on a long weekend so that you don’t get stuck not knowing what to eat if you’re on the road.

Pan-Caramelized Chicken Breasts

Hopefully this helps you with some of the practical “what on earth do I eat now?!” quandries that come up when you switch to an anti-inflammation diet!

Simple Pan-Caramelized Chicken Breasts
Recipe type: dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This is a great quick, delicious protein, and something good to take along if you're going to be on the road or need to take your lunch somewhere. It's great hot or cold!
  • Chicken breasts
  • salt, pepper, sage, rosemary (or spices of your choice)
  • ghee, coconut oil, or another cooking fat of your choice
  1. Start heating a cast iron skillet until very hot.
  2. Pound your chicken breasts, if necessary, until they're more or less uniform in thickness.
  3. Season both sides with the spices.
  4. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and turn down the heat to medium.
  5. Cook, uncovered, until you can see opaque white extending about half an inch up the sides to the top. The bottom should be a nice, caramelized brown.
  6. Flip the chicken and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until the bottom is the same caramelized brown.
  7. Check for doneness by pressing the center of the chicken - it should all be firm. If you're not experienced with checking for doneness by feel, then just slice in the thickest part and check that there's no pink!