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Chicken Paillard

October 26, 2023

Lemony chicken paillard is the kind of recipe that’s so genius for a weeknight because it requires zero shortcuts. Like most classic bistro dishes, it’s quick and efficient by nature.


homemade chicken paillard on a plate with a salad

Need a Quick, Restaurant-y Dinner? Say Hello to This Chicken Paillard!

With classic French flavors as the inspiration, and a simple, time-tested culinary technique at play, this delicious chicken paillard recipe is so easy to love. Succulent pan-fried chicken, pounded to a perfect thinness and dressed with a super traditional buttery shallot-lemon chicken paillard sauce tastes like something you’d order at a restaurant—and served with this fresh, bright arugula salad—it’s also a speedy, healthy dinner that you know everyone will love. Just how speedy can something as elegant and delicious as chicken paillard be? How about ready-in-under-an-hour speedy? Plus, pounding the chicken breast pieces into “paillards” is a lot of fun—you might even be able to enlist some help and make this fast recipe go even faster.

chicken cutlets, butter, chicken stock, chives, shallots, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper

What Is Chicken Paillard?

“Paillard” is a French word that refers to a piece of meat—”paillard” doesn’t only apply to chicken—that’s been pounded thin. Whether you’re working with pork or chicken or even veal, pounding the meat thin tenderizes it and cuts down on your cooking time, too! Plus, honestly, all that pounding is pretty fun to do. You don’t need a special tool to pound chicken breasts into chicken paillards. If you have a meat mallet, this is its moment to shine, but if not, a regular old rolling pin will work just fine.

Chicken breast pounded thin into Paillard cutlets with salt and pepper
chicken paillards saute in butter and olive oil in a cast iron pan
garlic and shallots in a cast iron pan with butter and olive oil
garlic and shallots caramelized in a cast iron skillet with chicken stock and lemon juice

Everything You’ll Need to Make Our Lemon Chicken Paillard Recipe

A creamy lemon chicken paillard sauce is the classic way of finishing off this beloved chicken recipe, and we’re not here to mess with that succulent, buttery perfection. Making this simple sauce is easy—it’s just a basic pan sauce, really. You’ll use what’s left in the skillet after pan-frying the chicken—chicken-y bits, butter and oil—to create a super flavorful shallot-lemon sauce that’s a natural fit for the chicken paillards. Here’s all you’ll need to make it:

  • Butter

  • Shallots

  • Lemon

  • Chicken stock

  • Garlic

  • Chives

chicken pan sauce with butter and olive oil, garlic and shallots in a cast iron skillet
chicken pan sauce with butter and olive oil, garlic and shallots in a cast iron skillet
chicken pan sauce with butter and olive oil, garlic, shallots and chives in a cast iron skillet
chicken paillard with butter and olive oil, garlic, shallots and chives in a cast iron skillet

How To Make Our Easy Lemon Chicken Paillard Recipe

The meal that most of us imagine when we hear the phrase chicken paillard is exactly this—juicy-tender chicken pieces, thin and buttery, golden-brown from a pan-fry, topped with a lemon-butter sauce and served with a simply-dressed arugula salad. It’s what bistro food is about! Comforting simplicity, approachability and un-fussy goodness. Maybe grab a good baguette and open a bottle of wine you love and clink those glasses as you sit down to one of the best, simple meals ever. A votre santé! Here’s how easy it is to make chicken paillard:

  1. Make the chicken paillards! Pound the chicken breast pieces to ¼-inch thickness.

  2. Cook the chicken paillards! Warm some olive oil and butter and cook the pounded, seasoned chicken paillards for about two minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through. You’ll likely need to work in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan.

  3. Make the lemon chicken paillard sauce! This is a classic French pan sauce—creamy, buttery, simple. Sauté shallot, then add garlic, lemon juice and chicken stock. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half. Stir in more cold butter and simmer just until it has melted. Add lemon zest and chives. Our Lemon Butter Chicken uses a similar formula for delicious results.

  4. Finish the dish! Place the cooked chicken pieces in the sauce to warm through.

  5. Serve with this green salad for a gorgeous & classic supper of chicken paillard salad!

chicken paillard in a cast iron pan with chives, shallots and garlic
chicken paillard on a plate with a salad

Tools You’ll Need

More Easy Chicken Breast Recipes to Try

chicken paillard on a plate with a salad, served with bread and wine

Good Evening, Welcome to Balthazar Your Own Dinner Table

Bistros like NYC’s Balthazar—one of the most iconic places to order chicken paillard—are great all all, but here at home, there are no reservations needed and no wait. And, of course, the company can’t be beat. This chicken paillard recipe is proof that quick and easy doesn’t have to mean compromising at all on deliciousness, and we hope you love it as much as we do! If you make it, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Chicken Paillard

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  30 min
  • Calories: 434


  • 2 large chicken breasts, halved horizontally to form 4 fillets (aka paillards)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 large shallot, minced or thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice, from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives


  1. Place the chicken fillets, one at a time between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using either a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat mallet, flatten the fillets to ¼-inch thickness. Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until the butter begins to foam. Add two of the pieces of chicken (aka paillards) and cook on one side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and flip until the chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate. Increase the heat back to medium-high, and repeat with two remaining pieces of chicken, remove the chicken onto the plate.
  3. Add the shallot to the skillet, and cook over medium heat, until softened, about 2-3 minutes add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the lemon juice and chicken stock and return the heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer while deglazing the pan, gently scraping the brown bits from the bottom. Simmer until the sauce reduces by 1/2 and slightly thickens about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and cook just until melted. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Add the lemon zest and chives, stir to combine. Place all of the chicken back into the pan along with any juices left on the plate. Heat until warmed through. Serve with a simple green salad alongside.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories434
  • Protein37 g
  • Carbohydrates5 g
  • Total Fat28 g
  • Dietary Fiber0 g
  • Cholesterol155 mg
  • sodium986 mg
  • Total Sugars0 g

Chicken Paillard

Questions & Reviews

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  • Gwen

    Oh my WORD. This was extraordinarily delicious. I used garlic scapes instead of shallot (it’s what I had on hand) and less butter when finishing the sauce. The sauce was something I will dream of for days. I will definitely be making this again.

    Thanks Gwen! We are so happy you loved it! If it's making it into your dreams we've done our job right!

  • Kathryn

    Best compliment ever - husband has said several times how great dinner was last night and he is looking forward to having it again soon. Chicken was cooked according to the recipe with 3 changes. Subbed onion for shallots, cut back on the amount of butter used in the sauce, and didn't use chives at the end. We served the chicken over a simple green salad using the vegetables that we had on hand. A perfect recipe for our beach vacation - fast, easy, used ingredients on hand and, most of all, delicious!

    Thanks Kathryn, we are so happy you both loved it!

  • Anna

    This was amazing!!!! Will be making this again!!! Served it with cauliflower rice and perfect dinner!!!

    Thanks Anna!

  • Maik

    Great simple recipe that’s become one of our regulars! Quick note if you happen to have a baby sleeping in the other room you can opt to just slice the chicken thin and it still comes out great without the extra noise.

    Thanks Maik, so glad your family loves this one and that it's become a regular!

  • keekrock

    Delicious! We made this dairy free with vegan butter and it was so good.

    Thank you so much, we are so glad you loved it!