Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Asian Butter Sauce


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

This marinade calls for kaffir lime leaves, a marvelously aromatic ingredient that can be found fresh or frozen at Southeast Asian grocers. If you live in an area where citrus grows, you can also grow your own in pots or in the ground. Substitute lime zest if you can’t find them. This recipe makes a generous amount of sauce; use as much as you like.


  • 2 tablespoonsAsian chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoonAsian fish sauce or 2 tablespoonssoy sauce
  • 1 tablespoonfresh lime juice
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced, or 1 tablespoonfinely grated lime zest
  • 6 large bone-in chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoonsolive oil

Butter Sauce

  1. cupshomemade chicken stock or your favorite canned broth
  2. 1 teaspoonAsian fish sauce
  3. ½ teaspoonvery thinly sliced hot red chile, or to taste
  4. 2 tablespoonsunsalted butter, softened
  5. 2 tablespoonschopped fresh cilantro leaves
  6. 2 teaspoonsfresh lime juice, or to taste


Combine the chili-garlic sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and kaffir lime leaves, and rub the breasts with this mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the breasts skin side down and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up and transfer the pan to the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Butter Sauce.

For the Butter Sauce

In a saucepan, combine the stock and fish sauce, and boil over high heat until the liquid is reduced to about cup. (You can learn to eyeball this. When the pan is empty, put cup of water in it to visualize what it looks like.) Add the red chile. Take the pan off the heat, and whisk in the butter a bit at a time to thicken and enrich the sauce. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and keep warm, if necessary (a small thermos works well).

Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over the top. Scatter with cilantro leaves and serve immediately with lime wedges.

Garnish if you like with fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges


I often make this dish with an elaborate lemon grass and bok choy risotto.

Sautéed bok choy and aromatic white rice, either steamed or cooked in chicken stock, make excellent accompaniments with a lot less effort.