Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
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This pan-seared garlic brown sugar chicken is our juicy go-to chicken breast recipe that’ll save your busy weeknights. Made with just 4 ingredients in 30 minutes, the whole family will be craving this sweet and savory chicken dinner!

Why I Love This Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken Breast

This brown sugar garlic chicken is juicy, tender and goes with just about any side dish! It’s got the perfect balance of contrasting bold flavors that make it anything but bland. Jorge recently said that this might just be my very best chicken breast recipe, which is really saying something! Honestly, I’m kind of inclined to agree. Even my picky eaters at the table usually gobble up this chicken breast with no complaints! Here’s what makes it such a hit:

  • Quick: Dinner will be on the table in just 25 minutes!
  • Sweet and Savory: There’s a perfect balance of flavors between the garlic’s fragrance, brown sugar, and spicy black pepper.
  • Budget Friendly: You only need 4 simple ingredients and a little salt and pepper!
  • Perfect for Meal Prep: Cook the chicken in advance and reheat throughout the week for an extra easy lunch or dinner!
Ingredients arranged in bowls for garlic brown sugar chicken recipe, from top to bottom: salt, pepper, chicken breasts, butter, garlic and brown sugar.

Key Ingredients

Notice the pattern with the rule of 4’s! 4 main ingredients and you need 4 of each! Super easy to remember when you are at the grocery store or in a rush. Scroll down to the recipe card below for the full ingredient list and exact amounts!

  • Chicken Breasts: I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, but this recipe will also work with boneless chicken thighs.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is a must in this recipe to get good flavor. Instead of mincing the garlic, try slicing it to get even more garlic flavor in each bite! You can use 1 teaspoon garlic powder in a pinch.
  • Brown Sugar: Use dark brown sugar for a richer flavor.
  • Salt and Pepper: Go for kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Black pepper is more important than it seems as balances the brown sugar.
Sliced garlic brown sugar chicken on a fork.

How to Make this Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken Recipe

Adding another 2 teaspoons of finely chopped garlic before covering the pan will increase the recipe’s garlicky punch for those of us who can never have enough garlic! Below is a quick recipe overview, but please scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full instructions.

  • Season: Add salt and pepper to the chicken on all sides. Set it aside.
  • Garlic: Melt the butter in a pan. Add the garlic and cook it until fragrant.
  • Chicken: Place the chicken in the pan and let it cook on both sides until no longer pink.
  • Sugar: Top chicken with brown sugar, cover the pan and cook until the sugar melts. Serve immediately!
Four juicy brown sugar chicken breasts on a serving platter topped with fresh herbs.

Chef’s Tips and Variations

  • Spicy: Sweet and spicy is an amazing combination! Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or chili oil to taste for some heat.
  • BBQ sauce: Pour 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce over the chicken and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove it from the heat and enjoy.
  • Thermometer: Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the brown sugar chicken breast. It should read an internal temperature of 165°F once done. This will ensure you do not over cook and dry out your chicken!
  • Add herbs: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried rosemary, thyme, or sage into the pan when you cook the garlic. Let it release its aroma and cook the chicken as usual for hints of herbiness.
  • Marinate: Mix 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic, and 1/4 cup honey mustard until well combined. Place the chicken inside a large plastic bag or bowl with the marinade. Shake well and refrigerate it overnight. The next day pour off the excess and prepare as usual, grill, or bake the chicken!
Sliced chicken over white rice with a side of steamed broccoli.

What To Serve With Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

This juicy brown sugar chicken recipe is great with just about anything. I particularly love it with pasta, brown or white rice, or roasted vegetables. Here are a few suggestions:

Landscape photo of garlic brown sugar chicken.
5 from 3 votes
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Yield: 4 servings

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

This juicy garlic brown sugar chicken recipe is an easy sweet and savory dinner perfect with just about any side you can think of!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts, about 1.5 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts and set aside.
  • In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  • Add chicken, cover pan, and cook for 12 minutes. Flip chicken breasts and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked throughly (once the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165°F on an instant read meat thermometer).
  • Sprinkle the tops of each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Cover pan with lid once more and let the brown sugar melt, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes

Store: Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freezer: Place the chicken in a freezer bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge and reheat as usual.
Reheat: Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon water and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. You can also heat it in a covered skillet, with a little water, over medium heat for about 8 minutes. For large portions, place in a covered baking dish and bake in oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes.
Spicy: Sweet and spicy is an amazing combination! Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or chili oil to taste for some heat.
BBQ Sauce: Pour 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce over the chicken and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove it from the heat and enjoy.
Add Herbs: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried rosemary, thyme, or sage into the pan when you cook the garlic. Let it release its aroma and cook the chicken as usual for hints of herbiness.
Marinate: Mix 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic, and 1/4 cup honey mustard until well combined. Place the chicken inside a large plastic bag or bowl with the marinade. Shake well and refrigerate it overnight. The next day pour off the excess and prepare as usual, grill, or bake the chicken!

Nutrition

Serving: 1chicken breast, Calories: 344kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 139mg, Sodium: 291mg, Potassium: 661mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 401IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 1mg

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I added just a little paprika to one side (because I ran out), but otherwise followed the recipe ingredients and it was delicious! Like absolutely fantastic. 
I make chicken my main meat for a lot of recipes and I seriously can’t wait to make it again. I paired it with some garlic butter instant potatoes, and both my fiancé and I agree, had we not both been stuffed, I’d have gone to the store to get more chicken! Thank you!

Okay, I’ve made this twice now, and I am NOT a novice cook, and both times have failed. You can’t cook butter, or garlic, at “medium high” for 24 minutes. They burn. Even 2 minutes at that heat will burn them. (Even with the flame turned down to medium low, they burned after about 8 minutes.) So, there’s something unusual about your setup that you’re having success. Either that or you have a typo in your recipe.

Looks yummy! Are the chicken breasts boneless/skinless? Skin on? Thanks!!

Thanks for the reminder about this recipe! It was on our weekly rotation for a while but then my husband was in the hospital and I lost track of my recipes.

My whole family loves this recipe and I can’t wait to surprise them with it again! Thanks!!

I made this tonight- Have to say, it’s amazing!!

This looks delicious! About how long does it take for the chicken to cook all the way through after the covered 12 minutes? Sorry for the dumb question – i always overcook things in fear of poisoning my family with uncooked beef/poultry 😉

I just made this tonight and it was great! I really loved the simplicity of it and the delicious taste of the chicken. I am a self proclaimed dipper (always into something: bbq sauce, honey mustard) but I didn’t have to put anything on this delicious chicken!

I made this a few weeks ago and it was delicious! We loved the garlic ‘n sugar mix – and I loved the simplicity even more! My photos are awful compared to yours but I did share it on my blog today 🙂 Thanks for passing it on – it’s definitely a keeper!

I tried this and did not like the combination of flavors. I should have gone with my instinct that I didn’t think brown sugar and garlic went well together.

I made this tonight and it was good but will be better the next time around as I will know more about what I’m doing!
I seasoned my chicken with some special seasoning we like and lots of pepper. Next time I’ll use just plain salt and pepper but regardless, my husband went back for seconds so I would say it was a success! Thanks for sharing!

This looks yummy and is great for a quick meal!

As far as the LFO comment goes…That song brings back so many memories, but I never would have equated it to being old! Eeeek! I guess it’s time to come to terms with that awful fact!

Gotta love a simple and yummy dinners!!! Never thought of putting brown sugar in anything savory like this 🙂

This looks like a wonderful recipe and I can’t wait to try it. In fact, it’s on the menu for this weekend with friends. It’s easy, quick and surely delish. Elegance with ease–just my style. Thanks for sharing.

LOVE IT

I just made this tonight and it was great! I really loved the simplicity of it and the delicious taste of the chicken. I am a self proclaimed dipper (always into something: bbq sauce, honey mustard) but I didn’t have to put anything on this delicious chicken!

Making this for dinner tonight! I have been trying to make more simple recipes lately due to the lack of time, expense of ingredients, amongst other reasons. This recipe totally fits the bill! Thanks for sharing can’t wait to see how it turns out!

I love simple recipes for weeknight meals. This sounds delicious.

I just made this tonight and it was delicious! I have a hard time cooking chicken, but this was awesome. Thank you!! 🙂

Cooked this the other night, but my chicken breasts were too thick and I ended up overcooking them. The sauce was deliciously addicting so I’ll be cooking these again tonight and adding mushrooms to absorb some of the flavors!

Mmm looks so good! And now I have that song stuck in my head thanks lol 😉

Thank You For Being Here!

Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.