Sauteed chicken is a cook's convenient standby for any night of the week. This method is weeknight quick but can also be a showy solution for entertaining, especially with a simple pan sauce. Here's what you need to know.
Sauteed chicken is the perfect 30-minute meal solution, and you can out turn out a variety of delicious variations with a few added ingredients. The word saute is based on the French word "sauter," which means "to jump." Sauteed chicken is cooked in a small amount of oil or butter over fairly high heat in an open shallow pan. Following are three commonly sauteed chicken parts and the best way to cook them. Regardless of which pieces of chicken you are fixing, the principles are the same:
Choose a heavy skillet that is the right size for the amount of chicken you have. You can use a nonstick or regular pan. If the skillet is too large, pan juices can burn. If it's too small, the poultry will steam instead of brown. If chicken pieces are large and you need to saute them in batches, add additional oil or butter as necessary.
Many recipes call for quick-cooking chicken breast strips or tenders. You can cut whole chicken breasts into strips or pieces crosswise or lengthwise, depending on your preference and the dish. These smaller pieces of chicken are prepared in the same way as chicken breasts (above), except the cook time will be shorter -- 6 to 8 minutes total. Keep a close eye on these and turn them occasionally to prevent burning.
Dark-meat fans can also use the quick saute cooking method. Opt for skinless, boneless thighs. These can be sauteed similarly to chicken breasts (above), although thights may take a bit longer to cook: 14 to 18 minutes total for 3- to 4-ounce thighs.
After sauteing chicken, you'll likely have a pan of flavorful crusty bits. You can capture these delicious flavor morsels with a technique called deglazing. This means using a liquid such as broth, wine, or water to loosen the particles and dissolve them over heat. Then you can add additional flavorings to create a divine sauce. See Chicken with Pan Sauce for detailed instructions and creative stir-in options.
Many recipes call for cooked chicken. Whether you're making chicken salad, enchiladas, or casseroles, sauteing chicken is an excellent way to cook it ahead for later use.
Safe Handling Chicken
Chicken Saute Chart
Note: All parts should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.