Joni Sare, cooking instructor

How to cook chicken breasts, the fast way


My housemate, Dan, presented a bag of 4 chicken breasts last night asking: what is the fastest way to cook these chicken breasts?  (Curious to know more about ‘breasts’ and other terms? If so, see TIPS below, for terms, substitutions and more).

Hmmm: remove one of them from the bag and put the other 3 back into the fridge.  🙂

Well, if I had given him that response he would have laughed with me, then give me that look of: Spill the goods, I’m ready to be done.

So – my actual answer was: saute, poach or broil.  Then I remembered/suggested a birthday gift I made for him… a jar of ready-made picatta sauce. He was a happy puppy, here’r the directions I gave him …..

Process #1:
for those with short time,
can give it attention and
want all of it to have the same flavor

  1. Heat the picatta sauce in a deep sauce pan (see Comments for picatta substitutions, below)
  2. Slice the chicken into 8 long pieces (best to use a cutting board designated for meats)
  3. If you have a bit more time: put the pieces back into the bag, add a tablespoon or two of flour (any flour is fine, any of the gluten-free flours are okay) and shake well. Actually, the action is more of a massage, than a shake.
  4. Put the chicken in the heated sauce, cook 4-5 minutes on each side
  5. If needed, turn over and cook a bit more (see Comments, below)

Here’s a bit more insight into this process:

It’s fast, yet requires attention, no walking away from the kitchen. So use this method when you have a short amount of time and can give it your entire focus. I’ll write alternative methods, see below.

Process #2:
for those with short time,
can give it attention and
give it flavor at point of use

  1. Turn the oven to broil, move the rack to the upper wrung
  2. Slice the chicken breast in quarters, first length-wise first, then length-wise again by turning the initial cut facing upward.
  3. Spray/apply oil onto a broiling pan (see Comments, below)
  4. Put the pieces on the pan and put in oven for 5 minutes
  5. Flip each piece and return to oven for another 5 minutes
  6. If needed, turn over and cook a bit more (see Comments, below)
  7. Flavor the pieces you’ll eat and refrigerate the remaining pieces, or freeze (see Comments, below).

Process #3:
for those with a bit more time,
very little attention and
give it flavor at point of use

  1. Put chicken breasts in a slow cooker or crock pot.
  2. Add liquid to cover, add flavors (see Comments, below).
  3. Turn on the pot to ‘auto’ (turn on ‘low’ for more tender meat).
  4. Return in 60 minutes to check for done-ness (see Comments, below, for note on ‘if chicken is still pinkish).


  1. Chicken breasts are generally sold in halves, meaning just one half of the two breasts, so “4 chicken breasts” is the same as 2 whole breasts.
  2. Picatta substitutions: use a can of coconut milk and add Thai seasoning blend, and/or a teaspoon or two of Red – or Green – Curry Paste.
  3. Spray oil: use this to reduce cleanup time, i.e. washing the pan will be easier, take less time.
  4. If the chicken is still pink-ish cook it a bit longer for these two reasons: if you will be eating the chicken soon, like immediately, and if you will eat the chicken the next day without reheating it.
    Couple of points to make: If the chicken is allowed to sit in the cooking liquid for a time it will continue to cook and will become over done in a short amount of time. I can’t give you a time frame b/c this is dependent upon several variables, such as the ratio of chicken to liquid, the size of the chicken pieces, the temperature of the pan, the temperature in the kitchen, and more.
  5. To freeze the chicken pieces: place the pieces on a baking sheet so that they have space between’m, just a smidge is necessary. Put in freezer for a couple of hours, or until the chicken is frozen. Then place the chicken into freezer zip top bag(s). (see Tips: Zip top bags, to come)
  6. Liquids and flavors that go well with chicken are…. pretty much everything. Herbs, spices, citrus, creams (see Tips: Herbs and spices for chicken, to come).


How to make tender chicken

Want to cut the chicken breasts into thin slices?

Click here to learn how to slice a chicken breast so that the pieces are easiest to chew.

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