When we’re short on time but I still want to put a delicious home-cooked meal on the table, I often turn to recipes that combine a simple pan-seared chicken breast with a flavorful sauce. This Honey Garlic Pecan Chicken is a perfect example. A thin chicken breast is seasoned and lightly dusted with flour, seared in olive oil, and then the sauce comes together by toasting some pecans and adding some butter, fresh garlic and honey. This is great served alongside some jasmine rice and a fresh vegetable side like broccoli or green beans. And the sauce is great served over the rice, too!
Now, lots of folks avoid using boneless skinless chicken breasts because they dry out so easily. The trick is to make sure not to overcook them. The only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to equip yourself with an instant read thermometer. Doing so will allow you to get that chicken right to 165 degrees without it drying out. The thermometers are relatively affordable and can be used for so many things.
A few things to keep in mind with this recipe:
- The big, thick chicken breasts they sell in the store won’t work well in this recipe. It takes too long to cook them through. If that’s your only option, you can buy them and slice them in half for two thinner portions. And even though it might seem like a hassle (I know, been there, done that), pounding the chicken to a thin, uniform thickness is super important. It allows the chicken to cook quickly and evenly. Just put the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap or in a gallon zip-top bag (not sealed) and pound it to about a 1/2-inch thickness. They’re more expensive, but you’re paying for the convenience.
- Searing the chicken in the same skillet helps to build flavor. All the browned bits on the bottom of the pan (known as fond) add flavor. You’ll want to use a wooden spoon to scrape all that off for your sauce when you add the broth. That said, you don’t want to burn all that goodness, either, so watch and adjust your heat when searing the chicken so you won’t burn everything that hangs out in the pan.
- Toasting the pecans in the butter is key to getting tons of great flavor. Be sure to get them nice and toasty before moving to the next step.
- Garlic burns easily when added to a hot pan and can give your dish a bitter flavor. It only needs about a minute to cook before you add the broth.
Honey Garlic Pecan Chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
- 4 thin, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used Lawry’s)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Place chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to about 1/2-inch thick.
- Place on a tray and season both sides of the chicken with the seasoned salt. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
- Add the flour to a plate and lightly dredge the chicken in the flour.
- Add it to the oil.
- The chicken should sizzle when you put it in the skillet.
- If not, allow the oil to heat a little longer.
- Sear the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.
- Remove and set on a wire rack.
- Cover with foil.
- Add the butter to the skillet and allow it to melt.
- Add the pecans and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until the pecans are fragrant.
- The butter will foam up. That’s normal.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add the chicken broth and stir, scraping the bottom of the skillet to get the browned bits (also called fond) off the bottom — there’s lots of flavor there.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the honey, salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens — about 5 minutes.
- Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over the top.