Knowing how to make the PERFECT Cast Iron Chicken Breast can make life so much easier. This cooking technique will add a healthy lean protein to whatever meal you need and is great to use for meal prep for the family!
I used to make so many mistakes when it came to cooking chicken breast! It is so easy to dry out, can be tough and chewy, and is a guessing game if you don't use a thermometer.
The cast iron skillet is a versatile tool that makes it easy to cook delicious chicken all year round without needing a grill!
Choosing Your Chicken Breast
There are good and bad chicken breasts. Sometimes you just get stuck with a stringy piece of chicken. Cooking this chicken starts in the grocery store.
When you're looking, choose chicken breasts that are smooth, pale pink-colored, and shiny. Smaller chicken breasts will cook more evenly and tend to be less chewy. The chicken should be plump but not bulbous.
Avoid chicken breasts that look like they have lots of striations or stringy pieces hanging off of them. Avoid yellow chicken breasts. Avoid huge bulbous chicken that looks like it has been injected with water.
This recipe is more of a tutorial on how to cook the chicken. Although the seasonings are what I typically use, your options are endless. Typically, I go with an Italian flavor with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.
Some of my other favorite combos:
- Garam masala, thyme, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
- Paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- Chili powder, cumin, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- Chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper
Another way to change up the flavor is to replace the lemon with lime. You can also add fresh herbs to the cast iron with the butter like fresh sage, thyme, or rosemary.
Master this technique to cook your chicken and you will always end up with the juiciest piece of chicken breast for your everyday meals!
Seasoning the Chicken
The first step is pounding and tenderizing the meat. It takes two extra seconds and can make a huge difference!
Place your cast iron over medium heat. While the cast iron is heating, season the chicken breasts with whatever seasoning you prefer. You don't need to marinate if you don't have time. I usually don't have time and it still comes out delicious.
Cooking the Chicken
Once the cast iron is hot, add the avocado oil. I prefer to use avocado oil on the cast iron because the skillet conducts heat so well and can burn olive oil.
Place each chicken breast flat on the cast iron. Add half of a lemon, cut side down, on the skillet. You may need to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your cast iron.
Cook the chicken breast for 7 minutes and then flip it over. If the chicken is looking darker or browner than you think it should, lower the temperature.
Cook for another 7 minutes and check the temperature with your instant-read thermometer. Use tongs to roll the chicken breast onto its edges to cook the sides of the breast and develop a golden brown color. Leave the chicken on the cast iron until it reaches 165℉.
Once the chicken reaches 165℉, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter to the pan near the lemon. Use a spoon to baste the chicken in the butter. Then use tongs to grab the lemon and squeeze it over the chicken.
Remove the chicken and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it.
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel after tenderizing and before seasoning to get the best sear on the chicken.
- Remove the pan from the heat when you add the butter to make sure you don't burn the butter when basting.
- The less you move the chicken the better. Let the chicken develop a sear before you flip it or check it, otherwise, it will stick to the pan
How to Store and Reheat
Store the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
This chicken can be eaten hot or cold. I prefer not to reheat and to eat it cold in salads. If I do reheat it, I place it in the microwave for 45-second intervals flipping after every 45 seconds until warm.
Chicken does dry out more when you reheat it. Another way to reheat it is by making gravy and reheating it in the gravy.
The key is to add a little bit of oil after the cast iron is hot. Wait until the oil is shimmering, then add your chicken to the pan. Don't move the chicken for a few moments. If you try to move it before it is seared, it will stick to the pan.
Wait until the oil is shimmering. Then add the chicken breast. Allow the chicken breast to sit undisturbed for at least 4-5 minutes.
What to Serve With Chicken Breast
The best part about cast iron chicken breast is how versatile it is. There are so many things you can eat it with or add it to!
- Try it with some pasta like Creamy Red Pepper Sauce, Garlicky Cauliflower Pasta, or Spicy Vodka Sauce.
- You can replace any of these proteins with this chicken in these dishes: Cast Iron Shrimp and Creamy Cilantro Lime Orzo, Cast Iron Lemon Basil Orzo with Chicken Thighs, or Chicken Bacon Ranch Skillet.
- You always need a vegetable to go with your chicken like My Favorite Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts, Italian Lacinato Kale Recipe (Tuscan), or Italian Cabbage Recipe.
- And of course, you can simply add it to a salad, or serve it with rice or risotto like our Mushroom Truffle Risotto!
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More Chicken recipes
Perfect Cast Iron Chicken Breast
- 1 cast iron skillet
- 1 instant-read thermometer
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 lemon, halved
- 2 tbsp butter
- Place your cast iron over medium heat. While the cast iron is heating, season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.
- Once the cast iron is hot, add the avocado oil. Place each chicken breast flat on the cast iron. Add half of a lemon cut side down on the skillet. You may need to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your cast iron.
- Sear the chicken breast for 7 minutes and then flip it over. Cook for another 7 minutes and check the temperature. Use tongs to roll the chicken breast onto its edges to cook the sides of the breast. Leave the chicken on the cast iron until it reaches 165℉.
- Once the chicken reaches 165℉, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter to the pan near the lemon. Use a spoon to baste the chicken in the butter. Then use tongs to grab the lemon and squeeze it over the chicken. Remove the chicken and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it.
- Once the chicken has rested, slice it and serve with salad or vegetables.