Creamy Garlic Chicken

Garlic Chicken bathed in a Parmesan garlic cream sauce on your table in just over 30 minutes!

This Creamy Garlic Chicken is a comforting, deceptively simple, one-pot wonder made with pantry friendly ingredients that’s destined to become an intoxicatingly creamy favorite!  It transforms boring chicken into juicy, golden saucy chicken by simmering seared, lightly breaded chicken cutlets and caramelized garlic in a bath of luxurious Parmesan cream sauce studded with Italian herbs – without even making a roux! Serve this Garlic Chicken over mashed potatoes, cauliflower mash, pasta, rice or cauliflower rice with Caesar salad and breadsticks and you have a lazy yet lavish repeat favorite!

One skillet chicken dinners are a weeknight lifesaver – you can never have enough!  Some of our back-pocket favorites include Creamy Tuscan Chicken, Creamy Mushroom Chicken, Creamy Cajun ChickenLemon Pepper Chicken and Asparagus, Chicken PiccataCoconut Chicken and Italian Chicken and Orzo.

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creamy garlic parmesan chicken in a skillet with Parmesan sauce garnished with parsley

Reasons to love this GARLIC CHICKEN RECIPE

  • This recipe will have everyone licking their plates!  This Garlic Chicken recipe will be a repeat family favorite with its golden, juicy chicken swimming in a creamy Parmesan sauce served over mashed potatoes or pasta – what’s not to love?! 
  • Anyone, even entry level cooks, can make this easy, ONE SKILLET recipe. This Garlic Parmesan Chicken comes together in just over 30 minutes in one skillet which makes cleanup a breeze. Simply sear the chicken, sauté the garlic, then add the sauce ingredients to simmer.
  • This recipe uses simple pantry friendly ingredients so you can make it any night of the week. You will be blown away at how humble chicken breasts and garlic can transform into this unabashedly flavorful, gourmet tasting dish.  All you need is chicken, garlic, flour, seasonings, Parmesan, chicken broth and heavy cream or evaporated milk.
  • This Creamy Garlic Chicken is incredibly flexible – add any veggies you’d like!  Serve some roasted veggies or a salad on the side or add asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes or spinach directly to the dish.  Lighten it up with evaporated milk instead of heavy cream, add more or less garlic, Parmesan, etc. and serve over anything from potatoes, to rice, to gnocchi to spaghetti squash.
creamy garlic chicken in a pan showing how creamy the Parmesan sauce is

garlic parmesan chicken ingredients

This Creamy Garlic Chicken is made with everyday, pantry friendly ingredients that combine into flavor fireworks!  You will need:  

  • Chicken breasts:  You will need four chicken breast cutlets. The thin cutlets cook more evenly, are more tender and soak up more flavor than whole chicken breasts. You can make your own chicken cutlets by slicing 2 large chicken breasts through the equator or you can purchase packaged pre-sliced cutlets. You may also use 4 small chicken breasts pounded to an even thickness or boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
  • Garlic:  Use 10-12 whole garlic cloves. You will smash about half with the blunt side of your knife.  Smashing the garlic helps release its flavor.  
  • Butter:  Is used in the sauce and to sear the chicken. Use unsalted butter so we can control the salt. You may substitute with olive oil if you wish.
  • Olive oil:  Use extra virgin olive oil for superior flavor.   A mixture of butter and olive oil when cooking adds extra flavor and the olive oil prevents the butter from burning.
  • Chicken broth: Is more flavorful than just milk or cream and has less calories. I always use reduced sodium chicken broth so I can control the salt in the dish and add my secret ingredient of chicken bouillon.
  • Chicken bouillon: Is my secret ingredient flavor bomb. You can use an equal amount (one teaspoon in this case) of granulated bouillon, better than bouillon or one smashed bouillon cube (don’t dissolve in water first).
  • Cornstarch: Helps thicken the sauce so its lusciously creamy instead of watery. It allows you to use chicken broth instead of all heavy cream.
  • Heavy cream: Makes for an ultra-rich, creamy sauce. If you’d prefer a lighter option, use evaporated milk mixed with 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch. 
  • Parmesan cheese:  Infuses the sauce with its fantastic salty, nuttiness. For best results, use ONLY freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  It is much more flavorful and melts into silky oblivion unlike powdered or pre-shredded cheese.
  • Flour: Is used in the spice rub to create a flavor crust. I used all-purpose flour, but I’m sure a gluten-free substitution would work.
  • Shallot:  One shallot will do the trick.  One shallot is considered the entire bulb, regardless of how many cloves the bulb contains.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Just one teaspoon adds a dimension of tangy, umami to complement the garlic. You may substitute with reduced sodium soy sauce.
  • Dijon mustardAdds a complex tanginess that won’t make your sauce taste like mustard!
  • Seasonings: The chicken is seasoned with a crust of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and paprika.  The sauce is seasoned with parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Use more or less to taste.
  • Red chili pepper flakes:  Enlivens the sauce with a little kick but won’t make it spicy. You can also add red pepper to individual servings.
  • Lemon juice: Every recipe needs acid! Just a squeeze of lemon juice awakens the flavors. You can use fresh or bottled and more or less to taste.

Can I make creamy Garlic Chicken gluten free? 

Yes!  Simply swap the flour for gluten free flour and you’re all set.

up close of garlic chicken recipe in creamy Parmesan sauce showing how juicy the chicken is

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN CUTLETS

This Garlic Chicken recipe begins with chicken cutlets.  Here is how to make your own from two large chicken breasts:

  1. Time permitting, freeze your chicken breasts for 15 minutes before slicing.  This isn’t essential, but it definitely helps create clean cuts because the chicken doesn’t wiggle with every movement of your knife.
  2. Next, lay the chicken flat on a cutting board and hold it in place with the palm of your hand.  
  3. Get out your sharpest knife or sharpen your knife. A sharp knife helps cleanly cut the chicken instead of tearing/shredding the chicken. Carefully slice through the center horizontally (parallel to the cutting board) to create two cutlets.
  4. Once you have cutlets, pound them to an even thickens. This quick step:  1) tenderizes the chicken as it breaks up the tissues and 2) the uniform thickness allows the chicken to cook evenly all over – without the thinner bottom becoming overcooked while we wait for the thicker top to cook through. 
  5. To pound the chicken to an even thickness, place the cutlets next to each other and top with plastic wrap. 
  6. Gently pound the chicken to an even thickness using the smooth side of a mallet, rolling pin, or side of a can. Take care not to over-pound, we are pounding to make the chicken even, not super thin like in Chicken Parmesan. You don’t need to be too aggressive.
showing how to make creamy garlic Parmesan chicken recipe by making chicken cutlets and pounding them with a meat mallet

HOW TO MAKE GARLIC CHICKEN

This Garlic Chicken recipe is easy to make by following a few simple steps.  The meal comes together so quickly that I recommend starting your sides (potatoes, pasta or rice) first so it can be ready by the time your dish is complete.  Here is a more detailed look at how to make Creamy Garlic Chicken (full recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1: Season the chicken. The chicken is dredged in a flavorful mixture of flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and paprika.  The flour helps create a crust of flavor that soaks up the sauce while also insulating the chicken.
showing how to make garlic chicken recipe by dredging the chicken in flour and seasonings
  • Step 2: Cook the chicken.  Cook the chicken in a large skillet in a mixture of melted butter and oil for a few per side, until golden and cooked through.  Browning the spice coated chicken blooms the spices and unlocks the flavor.  Transfer the chicken to a plate but don’t wipe out the skillet – those golden bits left behind are flavor gold!  
showing how to make garlic chicken recipe by searing the chicken until golden brown
  • Step 3:  Caramelize the garlic.  Sauté the shallots and garlic in the same pan, while scraping up those golden-brown bits until the shallots are softened and the garlic is caramelized, but whatever you do, don’t burn the garlic!
showing how to make garlic chicken recipe by sautéing the garlic and the shallots
  • Step 4:  Make the sauce.  Whisk the cornstarch with the chicken broth until smooth then add it to the skillet along with heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon and all of the sauce seasonings.  Simmer until it thickens to almost desired consistency, stirring often. Whisk in Parmesan until melted.
a collage showing how to make garlic chicken recipe by adding seasonings, chicken broth and half and half to pan to make creamy Parmesan sauce
  • Step 5: Add chicken.  Add the chicken back to the skillet and spoon some sauce over top. Gently simmer for a minute for the chicken to soak up the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
showing how to make garlic chicken recipe by adding seared chicken to creamy Parmesan sauce
  • Step 6: Serve! Serve Garlic Parmesan Chicken over mashed potatoes (my fav!) pasta, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, rice, cauliflower rice or cauliflower mash.
showing how to serve creamy garlic Parmesan chicken by adding to a plate with mashed potatoes and broccoli

TIPS FOR making GARLIC parmesan CHICKEN

This Creamy Garlic Chicken is pretty straightforward but here is a summary of helpful tips:

  • Remove chicken from the fridge before cooking.  Never cook chicken or any protein cold straight from the refrigerator otherwise it will cook unevenly. Instead, remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 15 to 20 minutes before you’re ready to start cooking.
  • It’s okay if the garlic falls apart.  Your garlic might be hanging on by a thread or completely cut if half when you smash it with your knife- both are perfectly fine!
  • Dry chicken before seasoning. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels before seasoning to help the flour and seasonings stick – and since we are not rinsing the chicken, we are just drying any moisture from the packaging.
  • Use FINLEY grated Parmesan. When grating the Parmesan, make sure you are using the smallest, prickly holes of the grater so it becomes powdery (but don’t be tempted to use the stuff in the green can!)
  • Reduce heat if needed when cooking the chicken to prevent burnt drippings. The actual cooking temperature for your chicken will depend on your pan, stove and chicken breast thickness, so be prepared to be flexible and lower the heat as needed. We want deeply golden drippings left in the pan and not black remnants. If your drippings are burnt, your whole dish will taste burnt.
  • Scrape up golden bits while sautéing garlic and shallots.  After you cook the chicken there will be golden bits on the bottom of the pan – these are flavor gold!  Make sure to scrape up the bits to maximize the flavor of your sauce.
  • Only flip chicken once when it easily releases from the pan.  Resist the urge to move the chicken as it cooks or to flip it more than once. The chicken needs to stay in the same place for a continuous amount of time to brown. When the chicken is browned, it will naturally release from the pan. If it is sticking, then it’s not ready to be moved, so be patient and cook on to prevent tearing.
  • Don’t overcook the chicken. Chicken, especially chicken breasts, are juiciest when not overcooked. The best and most efficient way to check for doneness is to insert a meat thermometer into the chicken; chicken breasts are done when they register 165 degrees F. 
  • Thin sauce, if needed: If the sauce becomes thicker than you like, stir in additional chicken broth a little at a time. 
  • To thicken the sauce:  The sauce will thicken as it simmers; the longer it simmers, the thicker it will become as the heavy cream and broth reduce.  If you would like a speedier, thicker sauce, make a slurry by whisking 1 teaspoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water then adding to the simmering sauce.  Repeat this as step as desired.
up close of garlic chicken recipe in creamy garlic Parmesan sauce showing how creamy the chicken ise chicken is

garlic chicken RECIPE VARIATIONS:

This Creamy Garlic Chicken recipe can be mixed up many ways such as adding vegetables, lemon juice, tomatoes, etc. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use a heavy cream substitute:  Swap the heavy cream for evaporated milk mixed with 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch. Just remember that fat equals flavor so the cream sauce won’t taste quite as decadent.
  • Add veggies: Add any chopped vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, bell peppers etc. and sauté them after you’ve cooked the garlic for a few minutes.  If using frozen peas, thaw and stir in with the Parmesan to warm through.
  • Spinach: Use 2 cups baby spinach and add it to the sauce at the end of cooking; allow to wilt 1-2 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms:  If you’re a mushroom lover, consider pan frying sliced baby Bella mushrooms, removing from the skillet then adding back to the sauce at the end of cooking. Check out my mushroom chicken recipe to see exactly how I cook perfect mushrooms.
  • Add tomatoes: Add one pint halved cherry tomatoes to the skillet with the garlic.
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes: Purchase the sun-dried tomatoes in a jar packed in oil, not water. They are usually located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store.  Use the oil in the jar instead of the olive oil. Rinse about ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, pat dry, chop and sauté with the garlic.  You can use them in addition to cherry tomatoes if you like.
  • Add cheese: Add additional Parmesan to the sauce or layer the chicken with sliced Gouda, mozzarella, provolone, Swiss or Gruyere, cover and turn the skillet to low until the cheese melts.    
  • Add lemon: Add a couple tablespoons lemon juice for garlic lemon magic.
  • Spice it up. Amp up the heat with additional red pepper flakes. I always add at least ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes but if you want to really taste the kick, add ½ teaspoon. You can also add additional red pepper flakes to individual servings to keep recipe family friendly.  
top view of creamy garlic Parmesan chicken in a skillet showing how creamy the Parmesan sauce is

CAN I PREP THIS RECIPE IN ADVANCE?

Yes!  While this Creamy Garlic Chicken doesn’t require much prep, you can still prep everything in advance so your dinner can come together in minutes.

  • Prep chicken:  Create chicken cutlets by slicing chicken breasts in half and pounding to an even thickens.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Dredge chicken:  Go one step further and dredge the chicken in flour and spices. Transfer the chicken to a parchment lined plate in a single layer and tightly cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
  • Chop aromatics: Chop the shallots and smash the garlic and store an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Grate cheese:  Grate the fresh Parmesan and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT garlic chicken

  • To store: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for four to five days. 
  • To freeze:  I do not recommend freezing the chicken in the sauce because it can become a funny texture and separate. The chicken will freeze by itself without any problem. If you want to freeze the chicken with the sauce, use evaporated milk instead of heavy cream and omit the Parmesan.
  • To reheat in the microwave: Thinly slice or chop chicken so it reheats more evenly without becoming rubbery. Transfer to a microwave-safe dish and warm for one minute, stir, then continue to heat at 20-second intervals as needed. 
  • To reheat on the stove: Thinly slice or chop up chicken, transfer to a skillet. Heat over medium heat, stirring often.

WHAT CAN I SERVE WITH garlic chicken?

This Garlic Parmesan Chicken is begging to be served over carbs to soak up the luxurious Parmesan sauce.  We love it over:

  • A bed of buttery mashed potatoes – my favorite way to serve it!
  • Pasta such as cavatappi, penne, campanelle, rotini, etc.
  • Gnocchi!
  • Stuffed pastas such as ravioli or tortellini
  • Rice – any kind 
  • Low carb alternative such cauliflower mashed “potatoes,” cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash

Now that the Creamy Garlic Chicken is squared away, let’s talk sides.  We love serving this recipe with veggies such as glazed carrots, roasted Brussels sproutsbroccoli, or asparagus or go extra gourmet with bacon wrapped green beans. You can also serve with a fresh salad like Caesar salad, strawberry salad, green been salad, apple salad, or beet salad.

Lastly, bread is a must to ensure no sauce is left behind. Serve this recipe with a simple side of crusty bread or we’re obsessed with my Garlic BreadDinner Rolls, or Garlic Parmesan Butter Breadsticks

up close view of a piece of creamy garlic chicken with Parmesan sauce over top with mashed potatoes and broccoli on the side

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top view of creamy garlic Parmesan chicken in a skillet showing how creamy the Parmesan sauce is

Creamy Garlic Chicken

This Creamy Garlic Chicken is a comforting, deceptively simple, one-pot wonder made with pantry friendly ingredients that’s destined to become an intoxicatingly creamy favorite!  It transforms boring chicken into juicy, golden saucy chicken by simmering seared, lightly breaded chicken cutlets and caramelized garlic in a bath of luxurious Parmesan cream sauce studded with Italian herbs – without even making a roux! Serve this Garlic Chicken over mashed potatoes, cauliflower mash, pasta, rice or cauliflower rice with Caesar salad and breadsticks and you have a lazy yet lavish repeat favorite!
Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins

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Ingredients

CHICKEN

  • 2 large chicken breasts (about 24 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tsp EACH salt, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH pepper, paprika
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

CREAMY GARLIC PARMESAN SAUCE

  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or evaporated milk mixed with ½ TBS cornstarch)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (granulated, crushed cube or better than bouillon)
  • 1 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried basil or 1 TBS EACH fresh
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

  • Smash 5 garlic cloves with the blunt edge of the back of a knife and peel. Peel remaining whole cloves; set aside.
  • Slice the chicken breasts in the half through the equator to create 4 fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness (use a meat mallet or side of a can). Pat dry.
  • Whisk the flour and all chicken seasoning together in a shallow dish. Dredge each cutlet in the mixture, shake off any excess, then transfer to a dry surface.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet (I love my braiser) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken and sear each side for 4-5 minutes (depending on thickness) until golden and cooked to 160 degrees F. If the drippings are starting to burn, turn down the heat (we don't want any black drippings!) Transfer chicken to a plate, don't wipe out skillet.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add a drizzle of oil if needed to the chicken drippings. Add chopped shallot and smashed and whole garlic cloves. Sauté while scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan until shallots are softened and garlic is caramelized, about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and stir in heavy cream. Mix chicken broth with cornstarch and add to the skillet followed by Worcestershire, Dijon, bouillon and all of the sauce seasonings.
  • Bring sauce to a simmer while scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan; simmer until sauce thickens almost to desired consistency (it will continue to thicken once you add the Parmesan and chicken), stirring often. Whisk in Parmesan until melted followed by lemon juice.
  • Add chicken back to the pan and spoon some sauce over top. Gently simmer for 1 minute for the chicken to soak in the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Video

Notes

Recipe Variations

  • Add veggies: Add any chopped vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, bell peppers etc. and sauté them after you’ve cooked the garlic for a few minutes.  If using frozen peas, thaw and stir in with the Parmesan to warm through.
  • Spinach: Use 2 cups baby spinach and add it to the sauce at the end of cooking; allow to wilt 1-2 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms:  If you’re a mushroom lover, consider pan frying sliced baby Bella mushrooms, removing from the skillet then adding back to the sauce at the end of cooking. Check out my mushroom chicken recipe to see exactly how I cook perfect mushrooms.
  • Add tomatoes: Add one pint halved cherry tomatoes to the skillet with the garlic.
  • Add cheese: Add additional Parmesan to the sauce or layer the chicken with sliced Gouda, mozzarella, provolone, Swiss or Gruyere, cover and turn the skillet to low until the cheese melts.    

Prep Ahead

Yes!  While this Creamy Garlic Chicken doesn’t require much prep, you can still prep everything in advance so your dinner can come together in minutes.
  • Prep chicken:  Create chicken cutlets by slicing chicken breasts in half and pounding to an even thickens.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Dredge chicken:  Go one step further and dredge the chicken in flour and spices. Transfer the chicken to a parchment lined plate in a single layer and tightly cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
  • Chop aromatics: Chop the shallots and smash the garlic and store an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Grate cheese:  Grate the fresh Parmesan and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

  • To store: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for four to five days. 
  • To freeze:  I do not recommend freezing the chicken in the sauce because it can become a funny texture and separate. The chicken will freeze by itself without any problem. If you want to freeze the chicken with the sauce, use evaporated milk instead of heavy cream and omit the Parmesan.
  • To reheat in the microwave: Thinly slice or chop chicken so it reheats more evenly without becoming rubbery. Transfer to a microwave-safe dish and warm for one minute, stir, then continue to heat at 20-second intervals as needed. 
  • To reheat on the stove: Thinly slice or chop up chicken, transfer to a skillet. Heat over medium heat, stirring often.

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4 Comments

  1. Susan says

    Hi Jen,

    I followed this exactly and it came out perfect! Thanks for another hit in the kitchen! Aaand once again, no leftovers!

    • Jen says

      Awesome, I love hearing that Susan, thank you!

  2. Jessica S says

    Jen! First, I love all of your recipes. But this was so so SO good. Easy to make with tons of depth flavor. I paired it with your suggested mashed potatoes and it was lick your plate good.
    Thank you so much

    • Jen says

      YAY, that’s what I like to hear, thanks Jessica! No shame in licking your plate over here .

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