So I brought out this pan-roasted honey butter chicken recipe one night after my business trip had been cancelled and I had nothing to do. Honestly, it was all a little skip in my step. The incredible aroma of melted honey and butter, just by coming to my credit, does already sound like something to lift three fingers.
But who could ever object to anything tagged with ‘honey’, ‘butter’ and ‘chicken’ anyway?
Which chicken part should be used?
Okay so here’s one last minute love confession. I’ve been raised to always see the juicy thighs of a chicken as the pièce de résistance. Kind of figured out later how chicken breast meat is so lean and eating them is so health beneficial – which truly changed how I chose to get my meals done, and also led to some kind of Chicken Piccata dishes that still remain tales on our family table up until this day. So since there are people who prefer white meat or dark meat to the other – I wish to reassure that both kinds are brilliant options for this recipe anywise.
But personally, I’ll still go for chicken thighs if I am to make this honey butter infused thing once again. Thighs are just more eligible for this kind of caramelization. Even when cut into bite-size pieces, the chicken will still be juicy and tender, neither too lean nor too mushy.
What is the sauce for honey butter chicken?
Unlike the spicy tangy Tandoori Chicken dish, in which the sauce was genuinely used to marinate the chicken, here, the honey butter juice is neither for seasoning nor drizzling over, but to cook together with the chicken right on the pan. And that’s where the magic begins. Caramelized right on heat, the golden-brown hue sauce appears as a true burst of flavor.
While honey and butter are important ingredients, garlic should not be made light of either. As far as I can tell, the sautéed garlic is what marvels the whole mixture. It slices through the apparent sweetness from honey with its notable pungent aroma, especially when sautéed with the browned butter to fragrance. Bet you couldn’t ask for more.
What to notice
One of my tried-and-true methods for preparing honey butter chicken is the searing process. Rather than just tossing the raw pieces of meat into the sauce (which, well, is apparently time-saving), sear them beforehand whenever you have an extra 10 minutes. This is plainly to bring the best out of its outstanding flavor.
The next thing is to always act quickly. Make sure you keep swirling continuously once the butter and honey start to melt on the pan till the foam quiets down. But that’s not quite all. You’re good as long as there’s a glossy, golden glaze, but don’t rest easy just yet. From this point on, it’s important not to keep on cooking for too long. Sucrose burns easily on heat. Pretty sure you don’t want to talk about those blackened, bitter-tasting glazes.
For this recipe, I only got garlic for the sauce, but if you’re about to spin any other alternative, please make sure both the honey and the butter are well melted and coalesced before adding in anything else. Respectively, I’d say. While it saves time, tossing everything in at the same time with honey and butter will simply caramelize everything, and if you’re curious to find out – that would be a bit eerie in taste. Better to take a little more time on the preparation than to be sorry later on.
In other words – be quick, and keep an eye on stuffs. Good timing is everything.
What are best side dishes for honey butter chicken?
Another versatile platter there is! This pan-roasted dish goes well with whatever side you want. Juicy and savory, these chicken thighs can pile over anything. Steam some greens to neutralize the sweet, buttery aroma of the chicken, or get yourself a hot bowl of fried rice, or just have it alone if desire. Go on, I’m not judging.
How to make Honey Butter Chicken
Honey Butter Chicken Recipe
Yield 4 servings
While indulging in the guilty pleasures every now and then, you can now be treated to the very same experience, except that it’s still up on the light and healthy side. Slathered with infused honey and butter, you'll hope to get this into your mouth every TGIF, and hopefully, a friend’s as well.
- 4 boneless chicken thighs or chicken breast fillets (can consider skinless ones if desired)
- 4 tbsp butter, divided
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Lemon wedges to serve
- Salt and pepper to taste
How to Make
Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel (note that the meat should not be rinsed but dried), then season them with salt and pepper. Let sit for a couple of minutes.
Make the honey butter sauce:
- Melt the butter over medium heat on a pan, swirl it for 3 minutes until the foam settles with a golden brown shade.
- Pour the honey in and keep swirling until it dissolves well into the butter. Add garlic and sauté quickly together with the honey butter mixture until fragrant. before wrapping it up with the lemon juice.
Sear the chicken thighs:
- Preheat your oven on medium-high heat.
- Sear chicken thigh skin side down in melted butter on a non-stick (or oven-proof) pan for 5 minutes. Flip and repeat the searing routine with the other side until it's all golden and crispy.
- Remove the chicken from pan, drain but leave just a fair amount of oil for easier sauce absorbing (about 1-2 tablespoons). Set aside.
Roast the chicken with the sauce on the pan:
- Add the chicken to the honey butter mixture.
- Cook them together over medium-high heat in 5 minutes (with the chicken skin side up). During cooking, use a spoon or a ladle to baste the sauce and pan juices over the skin. Flip and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
- Once the chicken thighs turn nicely charred all over the surface, remove them from the oven and let sit for a minute.
- Serve by adding lemon wedges around the chicken thighs, seasoning them with some pinches of salt, pepper and parsley. Don’t forget to drizzle the pan juice all over. Throw a salad or some noodles to accompany.
- I would advise against covering your pan/skillet on low heat after the chicken has been cooked through. I did this the first time and the sauce seemed to over burn a little bit so the golden brown hue sauce turned darker and bitter in taste.
- Add water (or better chicken broth) to the sauce if it starts to thicken.
Serving Size 1 chicken thigh
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 22 g
Saturated Fat 6.5 g
Cholesterol 104.5 mg
Sodium 154.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 24 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 10 g
Protein 23.5 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.