For seasoned cooks and kitchen novices, cookbook author and nutritionist Robin Miller takes it back to basics with great, family-friendly recipes worth making over and over again.
One pan meals with short ingredient lists are on every cook’s wish list. Not only are they perfect for busy weeknights, one-pan recipes marry ingredients in a single pot, giving the dish’s flavors a chance to commingle and evolve.
Think about it — when you cook chicken in one pan and sauce in another there’s no flavor crossover. And you have two pans to clean.
The recipe below showcases how to make an incredibly easy, ultra-flavorful one-pan chicken dish that features a buttery honey lemon sauce.
Using the principles behind this dish, you can branch out and make all kinds of pan sauces and one pan wonders regularly and with ease.
Less is more in weeknight cooking
When it comes to weeknight cooking, rest assured, you can create restaurant-quality dishes with very few items. And fewer dirty dishes.
More isn’t more when it comes to creating flavorful meals. Truth is, when you combine contrasting flavors, such as tangy and sweet or sweet and fiery, you need very few ingredients. The recipe below is a great example.
Golden brown, pan-seared chicken is sauced with a lively blend of sweet honey, tangy lemon and silky butter. Plus, extra flavor comes from the caramelized bits of chicken nestled in the bottom of the skillet.
So, in a nutshell, if you choose the right balance of flavors and incorporate a culinary trick or two, sensational meals can be created with a handful of ingredients and just one pan.
Here’s the simple process for making this winning chicken dish: Season chicken breasts with salt and black pepper. Sear the chicken in hot, bubbling butter until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a plate while you make the quick and easy pan sauce.
Combine chicken broth, lemon juice and honey in the same pan you used to sear the chicken. Bring the sauce to a simmer and scrape up the flavorful browned bits that were created by searing the chicken.
Add a little more butter and return the chicken to the pan to simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens. Adding butter at the end of cooking helps thicken the sauce while making it satiny — another culinary trick you need in your arsenal.
Serve with your favorite side dishes, knowing that you have just one pan to clean.
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What type of chicken works best in a one-pan meal?
This recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breast halves. If you can find chicken breast halves that are about four to five ounces each, you simply need to pound them out until they’re about one inch thick, which promotes even cooking and keeps the chicken tender.
If you purchase larger chicken breast halves (about eight to 10 ounces each), halve them crosswise and pound them out until they are about one inch thick.
Alternatively, you can halve the larger chicken breast crosswise and through the middle (as if slicing a bagel) to create four equal size chicken breast fillets that are about one inch thick.
In some stores you can find thin-sliced chicken breast fillets that are about four to five ounces each; these will also work and they require no extra effort on your part as there is no need to pound them out.
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What to serve with honey lemon chicken
To round out this or any pan sauce main dish, I suggest you serve a starch on the side like roasted red or gold potatoes, fluffy white or brown rice, regular or pearled couscous, curly quinoa, or your preferred grain of choice. You can also add your favorite steamed vegetable, such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, snap peas, carrots or spinach.
Recipe: One pan honey lemon chicken
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, about 4 to 5 ounces each, pounded to 1-inch thickness (see note above)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Chopped fresh parsley for serving, optional
- Season both sides of the chicken with salt and black pepper.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is bubbly, add the chicken and cook, flipping after a few minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add chicken broth, lemon juice and honey to the same pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and incorporating them into the sauce. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter.
- Return the chicken to the pan with any accumulated juices from the plate. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce reduces and thickens. Top with parsley, if using, and serve.
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Bonus: One pan meal inspiration
Now that you have the basics down, I wanted to provide a variety of delicious, five-ingredient recipe ideas for you to use as a jumping-off point. They are endlessly adaptable and well within reach for even the busiest weeknight.
Ground Beef Ramen
Ingredients: Ground beef, broccoli, ramen noodles, soy sauce, sesame oil.
Directions: Brown ground beef in a skillet. Fold in cooked ramen noodles, steamed broccoli, soy sauce and sesame oil.
Cheesy Mexican Chicken and Rice
Ingredients: Chicken, rice, taco seasoning, shredded Mexican cheese, green onions.
Directions: Sauté chicken in a skillet. Season with taco seasoning. Fold in cooked rice. Top with cheese. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Creamy Pasta and Peas
Ingredients: Pasta, tomato sauce, heavy cream, green peas, parmesan cheese.
Directions: Combine tomato sauce, heavy cream and green peas in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Fold in cooked pasta. Top with parmesan cheese.
Couscous Salad with Tuna
Ingredients: Couscous, canned or pouch tuna, roasted red peppers, Italian vinaigrette, parsley.
Directions: Cook couscous according to package directions. Fold in tuna, chopped roasted red peppers, Italian vinaigrette and fresh parsley.
Skillet Pork and Mushrooms
Ingredients: Pork tenderloin, mushrooms, sherry wine, chicken broth, Italian seasoning.
Directions: Slice the tenderloin into medallions. Pan sear until golden on both sides. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until soft. Season with Italian seasoning. Add sherry wine and broth and simmer until liquid reduces.
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