No one at your table will guess how quick and easy it is to toss together this impressive brown butter flattened chicken. Served with a buttery tomato sauce and arugula and pickled red onion salad—all equally quick and easy—this butterflied chicken looks and tastes like a restaurant-quality meal that required sous chefs when in reality it comes together in a single skillet in just 30 minutes.–Angie Zoobkoff

A white plate topped with a piece of brown butter flattened chicken, tomato sauce, arugula and red onion salad, and pine nuts.

Brown Butter Flattened Chicken

5 / 2 votes
This brown butter flattened chicken is served with a buttery tomato sauce and a pickled red onion and arugula salad. The finished dish rivals a restaurant-quality meal, yet it takes only 30 minutes to toss together.
David Leite
Servings2 servings
Calories502 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • Juice of 1 lemon (3 to 4 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 14 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 ounces cherry tomatoes, some halved and some quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 cups arugula leaves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds, to serve


  • In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice and sugar along with salt and pepper. Add the onion and toss to combine.
  • To flatten or butterfly the chicken breasts, put each one on a cutting board and with the flat of your hand on top, use a sharp knife to slice into the thick side of the breast, being careful not to cut it all the way through.
  • Open each chicken breast like a book and season well with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet and sear until golden on both sides and just cooked through, 3 to 6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter to the skillet and cook until it starts to foam and turn brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook until the tomatoes start to break down, about 2 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Return the chicken to the skillet until warmed through, about 1 minute.
  • Add the arugula to the red onion mixture and toss to coat. Drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Transfer the chicken and tomatoes to plates and scatter with toasted nuts and the arugula mixture.
Donal's Meals in Minutes Cookbook

Adapted From

Meals in Minutes

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 502 kcalCarbohydrates: 12 gProtein: 44 gFat: 31 gSaturated Fat: 10 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 15 gTrans Fat: 0.5 gCholesterol: 157 mgSodium: 251 mgPotassium: 1129 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 6 gVitamin A: 1372 IUVitamin C: 44 mgCalcium: 73 mgIron: 2 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Donal Skehan. Photo © 2019 Donal Skehan. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is a pretty unique recipe and I appreciated many aspects of it. The textures of the assembled dish are delightful as is the combination of flavors. Plus it’s pretty darned healthy.

I’d never used lemon juice to quick-pickle red onions and it was lovely tossed with the arugula. The timing to cook the chicken was correct, however, since the pan had been on high heat for a while, the butter melted and browned almost instantly. I removed it from heat at this point and added the garlic and tomatoes until the garlic was softened and the tomatoes popping, about 2 minutes.

If you have a picky eater, like my son, you can simply serve the chicken with or without sauce and enjoy more of the accoutrements yourself!

Nice quick dinner. My kids are always “tired of chicken” but they liked this one. It came together in about 45 minutes.

The recipe with the tomatoes could probably stand on its own. The butter and tomatoes pair very well together. I had leftovers with green beans for lunch and it was great! The salad really needed a bite of chicken with it to make it taste great.

We very much enjoyed this dish. It’s easy to prepare and the flavors and textures come together perfectly. The browned butter adds a nutty coating to the chicken and tomatoes with crunch from the onion and pignoli nuts. It’s also visually appealing due to the combination of colors from the tomatoes, onion, and arugula.

The dish serves two but can easily be multiplied as necessary to serve more people.

This is my favorite type of weeknight dinner recipe—protein and veggie in the same pan! (And, the entire dish comes together easily and quickly.) The colorful combination of the red cherry tomatoes, green arugula, and the pickled red onions was not only visually lovely but a delightful combination of flavors as well—tangy, sweet, and peppery all in one bite. I loved the taste of the nutty brown butter with the tomatoes as well; I always love using a little butter when cooking tomatoes or a tomato sauce, I really thing their acidity pairs nicely with creamy butter.

As for the recipe itself, the 2 flattened chicken breasts serves 2 hungry people very well. My lemon was a large Meyer lemon and I used about 1 cup total of organic baby arugula and pine nuts.

After 2 minutes in the warm butter, the tomatoes started to break down nicely but not too much. A hearty portion for 2 people so you could make it serve 3 to 4 if you had a not-as-hungry crowd for dinner.

I served this tasty chicken dish with some brown rice and a glass of Beaujolais.

What a great weeknight supper recipe. The recipe comes together quickly and the results are special. I used boneless, skinless, organic chicken breasts and unsalted butter. I had to cook the chicken breasts about 5 minutes on each side and they were moist and flavorful. Using arugula can’t be understated. The arugula melted beautifully on the plate with the brown butter. I used some of my home grown San Marzano tomatoes which were a nice addition.

Can’t wait to make this again.

The author describes this recipe as a “just-in-the-door” dinner and it really is—less than 30 minutes to juicy chicken with a brightly flavorful side. It served 2 easily and the suggestion to butterfly the chicken worked like a charm.

This did make a lot of the side dish but the warmth of the tomatoes and chicken wilted it enough to make it manageable on the plate. The butter browned quickly and was a brilliant addition.

The simplicity of the recipe doesn’t leave much to add. We really enjoyed it and next time I might consider making more because I think the leftovers would be just as good. I served it with fresh baguette and it made a really satisfying, quick dinner.

I love a new boneless chicken breast recipe. They usually mean a quick and pleasing dinner. My typical preparation is breaded cutlets or butterflied and grilled in the summer. There’s another preparation category that works well with the confines of a short order meal—the saute! And this recipe is a perfect example—it has an accessible and short list of ingredients and steps.

The prep time is truly 30 minutes. What made the meal special was the addition of browned butter. Next time I would take more care browning the butter. When I added the garlic and cherry tomatoes to the browned butter, I could see the butter turning darker. I took the pan off the heat to return the chicken to the pan along with arugula leaves and red onion. The toasted pine nuts added a sweet buttery crunch. Such a pretty and delicious meal. I served 2 big eaters nicely and had a smaller serving of chicken with all the remaining vegetables for myself.

The tender baby arugula leaves practically disappeared when added to the hot dish. Next time I would use more traditionally sized arugula and not skimp on the amount because I prefer a more vegetable-forward main dish.

This is now on HWR—Heavy Winter Rotation. Truly a 20-minute, restaurant-quality meal. The butterfly preparation was easy to accomplish and provided a technique that would also prove useful when grilling.

The butter browns quite easily on a medium heat. I suppose you could speed up the process by using medium-high heat but I’d rather be patient and not burn the butter! The timing was accurate for the breakdown of the tomatoes although certainly if you like a softer tomato, stewing them a bit longer wouldn’t do this dish any harm.

The big bonus of the recipe is the red onion used for the arugula salad. I did have some onion left over. So this gorgeous, bright pink, thinly sliced onion has been added to every other dish coming out of my kitchen this week! A complete bonus. I’ll be keeping a jar of these onions over the holidays to dress up any number of things, including basic hummus dip.

My lemon juice yield, from 1 lemon, was 1 1/2 ounces but, due to clumsy kitchen antics, I spilled 1/2 ounce on the kitchen counter. The onion, lemon, and sugar preparation was absolutely fine in the end, so if using a small lemon, it will work out.

Again, the dish comes together really fast and I think I’ll keep these ingredients on my weekly shopping list as a go-to anytime. You can definitely feed 2 people very well with some leftover for lunch.

I think I’ve just found my new favorite weekday recipe! This was really easy to make in a timely fashion with a ton of flavor. When I first read the recipe, I wasn’t sure how well it would taste but it was really delicious!

To be fair, my ingredients were larger than normal except the chicken.

A perfect weeknight dinner, especially if you’re serving it with something else like roasted potatoes. I really liked this recipe and I’m happy to have a new go-to meal when my days are busy.

I was drawn to this recipe because I love and make butterflied chicken breasts frequently. This is a delicious preparation with the garlicky brown butter as the star of the show. The arugula and warmed tomato salad are a perfect compliment. Its ease and speedy preparation make it a must for my meal rotation.

A good “just-in-the-door supper” indeed. The nutty brown butter and the acidity of the tomatoes are a great pairing, and it goes well both with the chicken and the arugula and pickled red onion mixture.

The onion was still pretty spicy, as it didn’t have much time to spend in the lemon juice, but the brown-buttered tomatoes tame the sharpness nicely.

Very typically, my chicken breasts were not the same size—one was bigger and thicker than the other. So I added the thinner piece a minute later and removed it a minute earlier than the other piece. Next time I would remove both pieces when they are JUST shy of being fully cooked, and finish them in the sauce. I cooked the chicken on medium-high and reduced the heat to medium when browning the butter. Instead of pine nuts, I used sliced almonds since I already had them on hand. Leftover pickled onions kept well in the fridge for a few days.

This recipe was one of the best chicken recipes that I’ve ever had! Amazing! It was definitely a restaurant-quality dish. My family devoured the entire dish and is already requesting for me to make it again. The combination of flavors was a party in my mouth! If you’re looking for a delicious chicken recipe with bursts of flavor, this is the recipe for you!

The chicken had such a savory, flavorful, grilled flavor. The exterior of the chicken had a beautiful golden brown crust while the interior was moist and juicy.

The arugula salad was so crisp and delightful. The combination of the arugula, red onions, lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, sautéed tomatoes, sautéed garlic, and pinch of sea salt created such a depth and burst of flavors.

This is definitely a restaurant-quality dish that will be a major hit! This will definitely be a frequent recipe at home. The finished dish looked exactly like the tester photo. It was spot on. Total servings were 4.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This was fantastically easy, tasty, and impressive to look at! The salad pairs nicely with the chicken flavors and I could happily double the sauce. This is a recipe I can make for company and impress everyone at the table!

    1. Thanks so much, Jill. We’re delighted that it turned out so well for you and we so appreciate you taking the time to comment.