Buttery Balsamic Chicken

June 23, 2022
39 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Olivia Bloch. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne.
  • Prep time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

This vinegary, buttery chicken recipe uses balsamic not one, not two, but three different ways. First, balsamic in a saltwater marinade, which boosts the chicken’s humble flavor and encourages it to stay juicy, even if you forget to set a timer and leave it on the stove a little too long. Second, more balsamic deglazes all those tasty bits stuck at the bottom of the pan, and sizzles with so much butter to yield a glossy, finger-licking-great sauce. And third, finally, a splash of balsamic at the end for brightness. I know what you’re thinking: Whoa, baby, this is too much balsamic! It’s not. Each addition works its own magic, making the chicken feel all the more special, all the more tended to. Pair with a simple salad and warm loaf of bread. Or serve on top of buttered egg noodles or couscous. The beauty of this dish is its minimalism—it’ll get along with just about anything. Don’t bother with the priciest, syrupiest balsamic in this case. Any store brand that you like the taste of will do the trick.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Giusti Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
- Hestan Probond Stainless Steel Skillet
- Dansk Haldan Stoneware Dinnerware

Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

This balsamic chicken is part of our Big Little Recipes column, which showcases great meals with five ingredients or fewer (not counting staples like salt and pepper, butter or oil). Since this recipe is so easy, you can play around with a side or two. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Grandma Potatoes: Family-famous roasted potatoes don't need a lot of ingredients—or any measuring. Don’t skip the parboiling step (it helps season the potatoes throughout), and go heavy on the paprika and garlic powder.

Peach Salad With Anchovy Vinaigrette: A not-sweet fruit salad. Here, juicy-ripe peaches are treated to a salty, savory anchovy dressing. Garnish with lots of black pepper and call it a day. Any other stone fruit could shine here, too, from apricots to nectarines to plums.

Raw Butternut Squash With Feta, Dates & Chiles: Come fall, if you don’t feel like cooking butternut squash, don’t. Like carrots, this vegetable is beautiful raw, as crunchy as it is vibrant. Dates could be swapped out for golden raisins or dried cherries. And feta could be traded in for goat cheese or cheddar.

Salt & Vinegar Mashed Potatoes: Inspired by the potato chips, these mashed potatoes are creamy and tangy. Malt vinegar—the vinegar of choice for dousing English chips and french fries—is blissful here, but another vinegar like white wine or rice would work, too. —Food52

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Buttery Balsamic Chicken
  • Balsamic-Marinated Chicken
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total), halved horizontally
  • Balsamic Butter
  • 1/4 cup (½ stick) butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher or flaky salt, for sprinkling
  1. Combine the balsamic and salt with ¼ cup of cold water. Add the chicken to an airtight container or bag, then pour the balsamic brine on top, making sure all the chicken pieces are coated. Marinate for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and use paper towels to pat them dry.
  3. Set a large skillet over medium heat, then add 2 tablespoons of butter. When that’s melted, add the chicken. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bottom of the chicken is golden, with some char around the edges, rotating the pan and lowering the heat if needed to avoid any burning.
  4. Flip the chicken and keep cooking until almost done, another 2 to 3 minutes. When you’re about 1 to 1½ minutes out from the chicken being done, add the remaining butter and balsamic to the pan. (You can transfer any thinner pieces to a plate if they’re finished before the thicker ones.) Cook until the sauce has thickened, flipping and basting the chicken as the sauce reduces.
  5. Transfer all the chicken to a plate, then pour the balsamic butter on top. Drizzle with more balsamic and finish with a big pinch of salt.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jerl Richmond
    Jerl Richmond
  • rob
  • Laina Reynolds Levy
    Laina Reynolds Levy
  • Elayne Greenberg
    Elayne Greenberg
  • Bonnie
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

40 Reviews

K&M May 29, 2023
Made this recipe as is and LOVED it. It is a definite keeper on regular rotation. Thank you.
llfarnam May 24, 2023
Easy and tasty. I used a pear balsamic and chicken thighs, just because we like dark meat better. Seemed like too much butter, though, so I’ll cut back next time, or even try it with some olive oil. But will definitely be making it again.
laura H. March 4, 2023
This was fantastic! I cooked 5 thinly cut shallots in the pan first and set them aside. I threw them back in the pan when I added the balsamic vinegar to the chicken. It added great texture and flavor.
Elaine B. January 4, 2023
This site doesn’t make ANY of their recipes printer friendly.
Very disappointing
Bonnie January 4, 2023
When I select the print button under the photo of the recipe I get a printer friendly page.
Elaine B. January 4, 2023
I’ll look again. And be embarrassed if I find it! Thanks
Elaine B. January 4, 2023
njsusan November 30, 2022
This was sooo delish!!! Perfect weeknight recipe! Served with white rice, added raisins to the rice and the sweetness was perfect with the tang of the balsamic!
marianne October 12, 2022
This is really easy, fast and delicious. Does not taste like vinegar at all. Has a deep, rich flavor. I used three tablespoons of butter cause we’re always watching calories and it was still buttery and delicious.
linda A. June 15, 2022
Butter and balsamic. Who would have thought? Such a winning combination. Delicious and quick. The marinade suffuses the chicken with a a subtle sweetness and the addition of butter makes a rich but light sauce when the chicken is sautéed.
ShopTherapy April 3, 2022
Awesome! Quick recipe. Served with a side salad of greens tossed in our staple Pampered Chef Italian dressing recipe (with balsamic vinegar).
Steve December 26, 2021
This looks great to me, but I am wondering about using lime juice instead of the balsamic vinegar. Might that work?
Jerl R. December 26, 2021
I have high regard for the versatile lime. I suggest trying it, see what you think, and please, let us know/share your thoughts. Personally, I hold the Balsamic version to be the absolute best.
Steve December 26, 2021
I will try the recipe as written, first. I was just thinking aloud.
leslie May 1, 2023
The acid in the lime juice will cook the chicken. You will end up with a very chewy breast. If you want to use lime juice you need to melt the butter and make that part of the marinade to act as a buffer.
Cailin December 5, 2021
Great weeknight recipe. I served it with French bread, sautéed green beans and burrata cheese. Then dressed the whole plate with a drizzle of balsamic butter - delicious!
Jerl R. November 27, 2021
Wonderful simplicity. Superb flavor. No recipe changes are necessary for me. Thank You Emma.
Robbie September 8, 2021
What an easy and quick meal that is really delicious! Served it with mashed potatoes with caramelized onions and goat cheese and fresh greens beans. Paired it with a Pinot Noir Rose. Thanks Emma for another fantastic recipe!
rob September 8, 2021
The best way to cook chicken breasts ever! Juicy and succulent. We had mashed potato with it. You definitely need something to soak up the sauce.
AStone August 9, 2021
Made this tonight with kasha varniskes and it was a huge hit. My 85 yr old parents don’t eat chicken breasts because “they’re too dry” and they were amazed at how juicy this chicken was. Only change I made was adding garlic to the marinade. This dish was so easy to make and will be on heavy rotation!
Emma L. August 10, 2021
So glad to hear that! I love kasha varnishkes.
Sinamen78 July 31, 2021
Our sauce separated at the end. Why ?
Emma L. August 2, 2021
This can happen if sauces are heated too fast or cooked too long. Next time you can try whisking in a little more butter to encourage emulsification. But I've founded even a separated sauce this simple (just fat and vinegar) still tastes great.
Laina R. July 28, 2021
Made this last night for the family with some roasted sweet potatoes and it was a big hit. The sweet potatoes were great for soaking up the buttery, tangy sauce. 12 y.o. immediately requested that we make it again soon, which I am happy to do since it's so easy.
LT July 24, 2021
This was soooooo delicious and very easy. The chicken came out tender, moist, full of flavor. Definitely adding it to my repertoire. Hubby loved it as well. Excellent recipe.
Elaine C. July 24, 2021
This is absolutely's going right into my Favorite Recipes binder.
Elayne G. July 23, 2021
It really ticks me off that a picture is not included in the print out of the recipe. This is 2021 GET WITH IT. AND WHERE ARE THE NUTRITIONAL VALUES. We diabetics live by them. I will not be viewing any of your recipes any more.
Christyvhs July 27, 2021
Really all CAPS @ a free recipe!?
kasia S. December 22, 2021
What a bully.
Lynn B. December 28, 2021
We won't miss you. There is a nice way to say something and a not so nice way. Sadly, you chose the latter.
paseo January 24, 2022
Says someone with a frog hanging out of her mouth...good grief.
miriamnz June 23, 2022
Cal 472
Carbs 5.5g
Sugar 4.8g
Fibre 0
Protein 52.4g
Fats 25g
Bonnie July 22, 2021
So excited to try this recipe! And am pumped abut the cookbook. Keep these great recipes coming. I just love them!
Emma L. July 22, 2021
Thank you so much, Bonnie