Prep Time  8minutes
Cook Time  12minutes
Total Time  20mins

How to Sear a Chicken Breast

One of the most important, yet mis-understood and poorly performed cooking techniques is searing, also called pan searing.  When you sear meat, you create an intense layer of flavor where the proteins brown/caramelize, literally changing their chemical composition.  The result, is the development of flavors and textures, that are totally unique to that cooking technique, and can’t be replicated via steaming, boiling, sautéing, or any other cooking process.  In this cooking technique video, I show you how to sear a chicken breast on the stove top, but the same techniques can be used on any protein and on other cooking surfaces…like the grill.

How to Sear (Pan Sear) a Chicken Breast

  • It’s a common myth, that searing “seals” in the juices.  It doesn’t.  It does develop a crusty outside that is packed with flavor, but it’s just as easy to dry out a seared piece of chicken as unseared chicken.
  • Heat the pan until it is very hot, and just starts smoking
  • Make sure the chicken is dry; pat it with paper towel if needed
  • Add a splash of oil to the pan and roll the pan to coat it
  • Lay the seasoned chicken down in the pan.  You should hear loud sizzeling, if you don’t the pan is not hot enough. Remove the chicken and let the pan to get hotter
  • Don’t flip the chicken for at least 3 minutes.  It needs time for that sear to develop and if you flip the chicken, or even shake it around the pan, you lessen the amount of heat – which at best means you have to wait longer to get a sear, or at worse you’ll never get it at all
  • After 3 – 4 minutes on high heat, peak at the underside of the chicken.  If it’s golden brown, flip it, and sear the other side with the same technique
  • Depending on the thickeness of the chicken, you’ll be able to cook the breast through with just that one flip, or after a few minutes on the second slide, you can flip it back over and/or put it into a hot oven

What do you end up with?  Well assuming you properly seasoned with salt and pepper, you get a chicken breast that has a crispy, flavorful outside, with a tender juicy center.  Hope you enjoy it!!

Comments (12 )

December 6th, 2012 - 5:39pm
This technique works great, but I have trouble with it if my chicken has a wet marinade. How do I sear with a wet marinade?
December 8th, 2012 - 8:44pm
Best thing to do is dry the chicken (use some paper towels). Then do the same thing. Nearly impossible to get as good a sear on it...but it works well
Eric Davenport
March 6th, 2013 - 12:31pm
How do you tell if the chicken is fully cooked all the way through? Do you suggest cutting into the chicken or would this release juices and flavor? Also, would it be best to butterfly and flatten the chicken breast?
March 6th, 2013 - 8:46pm
no need to butterfly them, but I do like to pound it out a bit, so that it's even thickness. With practice, you'll just know if they are cooked or not, but their look, their feel, and the amount of time cooking. Starting off, you can use a meat thermometer if you're unsure. You can cut them if you have too, but that's not great, as juices will run out - but it's far worse to cut into say a steak, than chicken. Good luck!
December 4th, 2013 - 7:48pm
for some reason when i sear the chicken it seems to end up being dry =/
April 14th, 2014 - 6:40pm
Thank you for every other informative blog. The place else may just I get that type of info written in such a perfect means? I've a project that I'm just now working on, and I have been at the glance out for such information. ddccaba
Hope Collins
September 16th, 2014 - 2:36pm
Will the chicken sear too quickly if I use cast iron?
Hope Collins
September 16th, 2014 - 2:36pm
Will the chicken sear too quickly if I use cast iron?
May 7th, 2017 - 7:14pm
I do NOT recommend putting oil on a hot pan. After watching this video, I about caught my house on fire. The pan got too hot and the oil immediately burst into flames. I doused it with flour and it still wasn't enough. Had to beat it with a kitchen towel.
Lita Watson
June 14th, 2017 - 7:41pm
When the chicken is cooked on the grill, we can use shrink test method to make sure that our dish certainly is overcooked. A well-done chicken will shrink about 10 to 25 percent in the size of the meat.
May 7th, 2020 - 5:24pm
Sorry if this is a dumb question, but how do you stop the oil from smoking and burning while you're letting the chicken sit for that long?
January 2nd, 2021 - 3:22am
If not, I will go through the procedure to sell it to the first person to buy it.

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