Chicken Breast with Gravy

Chicken breast is a staple in our house. I like to bake some and then use it throughout the week in sandwiches, soups, pasta, and curries. It also freezes really well!

Obviously, using a whole chicken is more economical, but it’s not always practical.

Sometimes I don’t have enough space in my fridge for a whole bird, nor do I have the time to prep it, let alone carve and portion it out once it’s cooked.

Buying a small package of chicken breasts works great for our family.

Tips to Keep Chicken Breasts From Drying Out

  • Cook Them at the Right Temperature: The key to ensuring chicken breast doesn’t dry out when baking is to cook it at a high temperature for a shorter time. I like to use 425°F. This helps form a “skin” or browned crust on the skinless breast, while keeping the inside juicy. Or if the chicken has skin, it helps it crisp up nicely.

  • Don’t Over Cook Them: It’s also important to go by the internal temperature rather than the clock. The chicken should be at least 165°F in the thickest part. If I plan to eat the chicken cold in a sandwich or salad, I prefer to cook to 175-180°, because at 165°F it still tastes “undercooked” or rubbery to me. If I plan to add the chicken to a soup or curry where it will be reheated or cooked longer, then 165°F is perfect!

  • Let Them Rest! Allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing into. This will prevent juice from escaping, and the chicken will retain its moisture.

Cast iron skillet with closeup of seasoned chicken breasts.

How to Bake Chicken Breast

When making this recipe, I like to use a cast iron skillet because I can then make a gravy directly in the pan afterward. If you don’t want to make a gravy, any baking dish will work.

First preheat your oven to 425°F. Then make a spice mixture of 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika, and a 1/4 teaspoon each of thyme, cayenne, and black pepper.

Spread the mixture on 2 chicken breasts making sure to coat them evenly. If your chicken breasts have skin, get some of the spices underneath so the meat is seasoned well.

The prep can all be done directly in the skillet so there’s one less thing to wash. Drizzle on some olive oil and pop it in the preheated oven. That’s it, so easy!

how to make Gravy with pan drippings

Set the chicken aside and place the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat.

There will be some liquid, fat, and spices in the skillet from the chicken. Do not clean any of it out! These are the pan drippings and you want all of that deliciousness in the gravy.

The skillet should get hot quickly since it came out of the oven. Add a spoonful of flour and stir into the drippings. Let it cook for 30-60 seconds until the flour turns golden brown.

At this point you can deglaze the pan with a dash of white wine or dry vermouth. If you don’t want to use alcohol, skip this step.

Next add in about 1 cup very hot chicken broth. Add the broth to the flour slowly, whisking while adding. Using hot liquid will prevent the flour from forming little lumps. Continue whisking until the gravy thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.

For a creamy gravy, whisk in some sour cream or heavy cream. Or you can finish the gravy with a pat of cold butter for richness.

how to cut Chicken breast Against the grain

When ready to slice the chicken breasts, be sure to slice against or across the grain. You want to angle your knife perpendicular to the grain rather than parallel.

This ensures the chicken doesn’t become tough. I found this video to be very helpful in explaining the proper technique of cutting meat: How To Cut Meat Against The Grain.

Customizing this chicken and gravy Recipe

The seasoning I use below is an estimate since I normally don’t measure the spices. Use as little or as much as you’d like.

Serve it with roasted potatoes and vegetables or with grains like rice, couscous, or quinoa.

I dice up the leftover chicken and add to pot pie, chicken salad, chicken soup, or pasta. The gravy can also be used in some of those dishes like pot pie or soup.

If adding the chicken to an Asian or Latin dish, switch up the spice blend with something more appropriate for that cuisine. Or use only salt and pepper when baking and add other seasonings or sauce later.

For example, I only use salt and pepper when making this chicken for my Curry Simmer Sauce, because the sauce will infuse its own spices and flavor.

Give this recipe a try for a quick evening meal. You’ll be surprised at how easy it comes together and how succulent it is!

you can also add chicken breast to these other recipes

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Joby's Test Kitchen cast iron skillet with baked seasoned chicken breasts.

Chicken Breast with Gravy

Joby’s Test Kitchen
An easy and tasty chicken breast recipe with a simple pan gravy.
Prep Time 22 minutes
Cook Time 38 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 188 kcal

Equipment

  • large oven-safe skillet

Ingredients
  

  • 2 small boneless and skinless or skin-on chicken breasts
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp cayenne or chili powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • olive oil
  • parsley for garnish, optional

Skillet Gravy (optional)

  • dash white wine or dry vermouth, optional
  • 1 tbsp (8g) flour
  • 1 cup (240ml) chicken broth, heated
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 1-2 tbsps sour cream, heavy cream, or butter, optional

Instructions
 

Chicken

  • Mix all the spices together in a small container.
  • Place the chicken breasts in a lightly greased cast-iron or oven-safe skillet or in a baking dish. Sprinkle on the spice mixture and rub into the chicken making sure it's evenly coated. Drizzle on some olive oil if desired. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 425℉ for 10-15 minutes.
  • Bake chicken for 25-30 min or until the internal temperature is 165-180℉. Transfer chicken to a plate and loosely cover with foil. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Skillet Gravy (optional):

  • While the chicken is resting, place the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp flour and stir into the pan drippings. If desired, deglaze the pan with a dash of white wine or dry vermouth. Heat 1 cup chicken broth till hot. Slowly add broth to the flour, whisking while adding. Continue whisking until the gravy thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. For a creamy gravy, whisk in some sour cream.

Notes

Variations: This cast iron cooking method can be used to make a simple roast turkey breast with pan gravy or even pork chops! Cooking times may need to be adjusted.
Instant Pot Method: Using an IP will not result in a golden brown exterior you would get from baking, but the chicken will be super moist and delicious. I use this method when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, or if I’m adding the chicken to a dish where the appearance doesn’t matter, e.g. in a casserole, soup, etc.
  • Place the seasoned chicken breast in the IP and add a few tbsps of water or broth to the bottom of the pot.
  • Set it to “Manual” and decrease the time to 10 minutes. When it finishes cooking, wait about 5 minutes and do a quick release. 
Keyword chicken breast, gravy