Chicken Sybil

The Multiple Personality Chicken
& My Signature Chicken Recipe

We all remember the book Sybil, right? I call this recipe "Chicken Sybil" because it's the "multiple personality" chicken, made in so very many different ways, all wonderful. It's so easy to make in a single skillet, the chicken turns out moist and juicy in the center, slightly crispy at the edges. The sauce is so variable, it starts with a creamy-mustard sauce then adds on-hand ingredients. I think you'll love Chicken Sybil, it's the "one way" I make chicken again and again, yet it never turns out the same twice.

Chicken Sybil, another Quick Supper ♥, it's the 'multiple personality' chicken, just pan-cooked chicken in a creamy-mustard sauce plus whatever on-hand ingredients sound good. Low Carb. High Protein. Weight Watchers friendly! Rave reviews!

Whole Food, Fresh & Flexible. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Mere Minutes to the Table. Another Quick Supper, a Kitchen Parade Specialty. Hearty & Filling. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free. High Protein. So Many Rave Reviews.

  • "This sounds silly ... but ... [this recipe] changed my life!!" ~ Angela
  • "Chicken Sybil is pure genius." ~ Roberta
  • "I loved Chicken Sybil." ~ Colleen
  • "... absolutely delicious, elegant, and so easy." ~ Barbara
  • "This is my husband's new fave." ~ Cathy
  • "... to die for..." ~ Barbara
  • "My husband ... is so excited every time I make it." ~ Dee
  • "... such a nice dinner. Delicious, company worthy sauce." ~ Julie
  • "It was delicious!" ~ LindaRuthC
  • "... tonight I made it with flounder. T'was wonderful!" ~ Ann
On My Mind ♥ A woman holding several pairs of shoes, symbolizing how we remember more shoe names than book titles.

Shoes in Our Closet vs Books On Our Shelves

Can a closet breed shoes at a rate challenging gravid guppies?

(Y-chromosomed readers may want to skip straight to the recipe. This first bit requires X chromosomes for full comprehension.)

Think pumps and sling-backs and slides and mules and slip-ons and peep toes and lace-ups and ankle straps and monk straps along with flats, loafers, oxfords, kilties, tassels that sit beside ballerina shoes, Mary Janes and moccasins and high heels, tippy-toe heels, strappy heels, stilettos and kitten heels, dancing shoes, airport-friendly shoes, Saturday-morning errand shoes and clogs and crocs and platforms and wedges and espadrilles and that’s before the racks of thongs and sandals and flip flops, ankle boots, snowboots, dressboots, cowboy boots, steel toes and sneakers, high tops, boat shoes, golf shoes, running shoes, walking shoes, hiking boots and beach shoes.

And lest we forget, the comfy house slipper. Whew. Soooo many shoes!

What does it say that we women recognize so many shoe designs, even without owning a pair? Can we list as many authors, composers or poets?

What’s so important about shoes that our brains make room for a veritable shoe catalog?

Chicken Sybil: The Comfortable, Everyday Slip On

So goes Chicken Sybil, the quick supper with multiple personalities and a variation for every occasion. It may be the most flexible, easy and delicious chicken supper, ever.

It's especially useful for small households, that's why it's the featured recipe in my special recipe collection called Cooking for One or Two. All the recipes in this collection either scale easily for one or two ~or~ use meal prep for "planned overs" to eat throughout the week.

One summer, I taught a cooking class where each of us cooked our own skillets of Chicken Sybil with a variety of ingredients. Favorite Add-In's and Sauce Add-In's included sun-dried tomatoes, frozen peas, fresh mushrooms, black bean sauce and fresh basil, also garlic and rhubarb jam.

What's In Chicken Sybil? What's On Hand?!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. What makes Chicken Sybil so special is that its ingredients are so variable, that's how it becomes the chicken with a "multiple personality". Here are the basics plus lots of ideas. But! Let the ideas guide not dictate. Check your fridge, your pantry and think how they might combine here.

  • THE CHICKEN Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts here but do take time to pound them to an even thickness, this makes it easier to cook the breasts clear through without overcooking them. This means the chicken turns out moist and tender, so so good!
  • (OPTIONAL) SAUCE ADD-IN's Check the fridge for small amounts of one or two ingredients that will add texture and flavor, ones that will benefit from a little cooking or warming up. Some ideas: a handful of capers, sliced mushrooms, diced tomato, chopped green onion, frozen peas, cooked bacon. You can see that all these would add texture, color and flavor to the sauce but yes, they're optional.
  • THE BASE SAUCE has just 3 ingredients: chicken stock; something milky like cream or sour cream or yogurt; a good measure of a good mustard like Dijon or practically any mustard besides that basic ballpark yellow mustard and honestly? it'd work too.
  • THE SAUCE ADD-IN's I know, sorry, more add-ins. :-) But these aren't optional, they'll convert a plain sauce into something entirely unexpected. Again, check your fridge for small amounts, just two tablespoons of something you've got on hand that'll punch up the sauce's flavor. Here are some ideas: orange juice concentrate (my favorite); maple syrup, marmalade, tomato paste, salsa (pictured), and barbecue sauce.

How to Make Chicken Sybil

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in four easy steps. You can definitely do this!

  • COOK THE CHICKEN Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness, then season and brown on both sides in a little butter. Be sure to cook the chicken almost clear through, it will get some additional heat but not much. Move the chicken onto dinner plates but cover with foil to keep it hot and to finish reaching the safe internal temperature for chicken.
  • START THE SAUCE with OPTIONAL SAUCE ADD-IN's Start the sauce with any ingredients that need a little cooking or heating, just add one or two to the skillet and cook a bit. Pick ingredients that need only a brief cook, now's not the time to be cooking rice, say.
  • FINISH THE SAUCE with the BASE SAUCE & SAUCE ADD IN's Combine these, then add to the skillet to heat up and simmer for a minute or two, just enough to thicken.
  • POUR THE SAUCE over the chicken breasts and yes, finally, serve!

So Get Creative!

Be creative with the variations. I make Chicken Sybil once or twice a month, it's never the same twice, just by scrounging in the fridge beforehand, pairing things up.

And You?

What variations have you tried? Leave a comment to inspire others!

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this simple, inventive chicken recipe hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Chicken Sybil ♥, the 'multiple personality' chicken, just pan-cooked chicken in a creamy-mustard sauce with on-hand ingredients.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time-to-table: 20 minutes
Serves 4 (easily adjusts to 1 or 2 servings)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about ¼ pound each
  • Salt & pepper
  • Handful of capers, sliced mushrooms, diced tomato, green onion, frozen peas, cooked bacon or your choice
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup cream or sour cream or fat-free half ‘n’ half
  • 2 tablespoons good mustard
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate (my favorite) or maple syrup, marmalade, tomato paste, salsa (pictured), barbecue sauce or your choice

CHICKEN Melt the butter in a large skillet on MEDIUM HIGH. (You may need two skillets to cook four servings at once.)

Between two sheets of waxed paper, pound the chicken breasts with a rolling pin until about a half-inch thick.

Season one side with salt and pepper, transfer to the skillet seasoned-side down (the meat should sizzle), then season the top side. Reduce the heat to MEDIUM, cook for 4 minutes on one side, then 3 – 4 minutes on the other side; the juices should run clear or an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read 160F/70C.

Transfer the fully cooked meat to warm dinner plates and cover with foil where it'll finish coming up to safe eating temperature, that's 165F/75C.

OPTIONAL ADD-IN's Add the add-in ingredients (if any) to the skillet and stir 1 – 2 minutes until warm.

THE BASE SAUCE + SAUCE ADD-IN'S In a small bowl, stir together the Base Sauce ingredients and the Sauce Add-In's, whisk these into the hot skillet, stirring to incorporate the bits of chicken left in the pan. Let the sauce thicken slightly, then pour it over the cooked chicken breasts.

Serve and enjoy!

ALANNA’S TIPS: Individually frozen chicken breasts are a supper-saver at five o’clock. Just submerse the packages in cold water – yes, cold, it’s counter-intuitive but it works – for 30 minutes. How does chicken safely cook so quickly? It's because the meat is pounded quite thin. Because "quite thin" is imprecise, the first time you make this, after the specified cooking times, slit into the thickest part of the breast with the tip of a sharp knife and spread a bit. If the center is still pink, cook awhile longer. Or if you use a digital thermometer (affiliate link), cook the chicken until it reaches the safe internal temperature of 160F/70C. My Disclosure Promise Chicken Sybil cooks fast! That means it's wise to have your side dishes ready to go before starting. And perhaps a glass of wine and a pat on the back for putting supper on the table with such ease?!

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION (Exact nutrition will vary based on your own add-in choices but this is a good start.) Per Serving, without add-in's: 211 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 94mg Cholesterol; 188mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 27g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 5 & PointsPlus 5 & SmartPoints 5 & Freestyle 4 & myWW green 5 & blue 4 & purple 4 & future WW points

More Quick 'n' Easy Chicken Recipes

~ chicken recipes ~
Honey Mustard Chicken ♥, fast & simple, five ingredients. Weight Watchers Friendly!

Easy Margarita Chicken ♥, a quick supper, sautéed chicken breasts topped with salsa and cheese, served with delicious doctored black beans.

Rainbow Chicken ♥, chicken and a pile of rainbow-colored veggies tossed in a spice rub and brightened with lemon slices. So simple and spring-like, it's our new go-to chicken supper.

More "Concept" Recipes to Make Again and Again,
One Recipe, Many Variations

Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins ♥, healthy pumpkin muffins that stay fresh for days. Moist and spicy with great texture.

How to Make Homemade Vegetable Soup, a master recipe ♥ Never the same twice! Perfect for CSA members, farmers market shoppers and all vegetable lovers!

Winter Stew ♥, a master recipe for a wintry meat and vegetable stew, a concept recipe that's been much-tested with many combinations of meats and vegetables, liquids and more. Shown here, elk meat, butternut squash, sherry and dried apricots.
  • THE RECIPE Winter Stew A master recipe, cook with confidence, no recipe required.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Beef & Mushroom Stew On the table and flavorful within an hour.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2007, 2012 (repub), 2013, 2014 (repub), 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 & 2023

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous7/11/2007

    Chicken Sybil -- love love love this name, and the concept! My favorite recipes are those that can go with any outfit....

  2. Anonymous7/11/2007

    Alanna, I agree with Lydia -- great recipe name and terrific concept! And your timing couldn't be better. Steve defrosted some chicken breasts instead of some leftover ham, and we need to cook them tonight. When I left for work this morning, I was still wondering what to do with them, and now I have my answer!

    :-) Genie

  3. Anonymous7/11/2007

    I like! copied to paper and posted on fridge. Thanks.

  4. Anonymous7/11/2007

    I love recipes like this! Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" is great at providing the basic recipe and then a dozen variations.

  5. Anonymous7/11/2007

    I love the name too... it is perfect!
    Great post.

  6. Anonymous7/11/2007

    This sounds silly to write, and probably astounding to read, but I have to say that you have changed my life!! In a really good way! Thank you!!

    I am a vegetarian and have been for most of my adult life. My husband and our young toddler are meat eaters. Whereas my husband had been content to eat meatless dinners most nights, we felt it was important when [the baby] came along to have meat much more often. I had been struggling to find meat recipes that would please both of them, with minimal luck, and then along comes Chicken Sybil. I have to tell you that both of them love it! I have prepared it at least once a week since it was featured in the Webster-Kirkwood Times, and each time they both clean their plates! I have varied it using the various optional ingredients that you suggested, and every time it has been a success. I have branched out as well with my own variations, such as some of the Penzey Spices blends (my husband's favorite is the Ozark Seasonings blend followed by the Bicentennial Rub), and feel so confident now in being able to prepare a delicious, quick, and healthy chicken dinner that has limitless possibilities. Thank you so so much for this.

  7. Angela ~

    I'm sooo glad that Chicken Sybil's making such a big difference in your life. It's my favorite recipe in almost five years of writing Kitchen Parade, a combination of speed, easy to cook for one or two, easy adaptability, healthfulness - and complete deliciousness!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write, truly.

  8. Anonymous4/20/2008

    Wow-we have the same Christmas china! I have those same plates and I love them. Now I'll have to try the chicken recipe!


  9. Anonymous4/21/2008

    What took me so long to discover your blog! This is just the way I like to cook. Chicken Sibyl is pure genius. Have you tried it with mango chutney?

  10. I loved Chicken Sybil...but I can never just follow a recipe, so I sprinkled the chicken breasts with Cajun Shake (our favorite spice blend of all time). For the sauce, I carmelized sweet onions first, sprinkled them with Cajun Shake, then added a splash of cream sherry, allowing that to cook down, then followed by the remainder of the ingredients. Once I even added asparagus tips at the end, just long enough to cook to crisp-tender. Everyone at our table was happy! But asked that next time, I make more!

    Thank you for Kitchen Parade and for sharing all of your recipes and thoughts. It's my daily retreat!

  11. You Guys ~ If I weren't blushing, I'd be in tears. Actually, I am in tears, your such kind comments. THANK YOU!

  12. Anonymous9/18/2008

    I've been craving pork chops lately and wanted to make a sauce similar to that used in Chicken Sybil (which I always want to call Chicken Sylvia). I wanted the sauce to have an "apple" taste. So, I used apple cider instead of chicken broth, dijon, heavy cream and a splash of maple syrup. I let the cider cook down a little before adding the other ingredients.. Fantastic! I sear-roasted the chops and removed them to a plate while I made the sauce. If I'd been thinking, I would have added the juices that accumulated on the plate to the sauce.

    Next time I think I'll use a little more cider and let it cook down, plus add the juices from the pork chops.

    It's an idea I wouldn't have come up with if not for reading Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture. Thanks!

  13. Anonymous9/22/2008

    Great recipe! good taste, easy to make. But your humor is lacking. stick to what you're good at

  14. Anonymous1/04/2009

    sounds great .going try it.but will say wasnt a nice comment about the humor remark ...keep it all coming

  15. Anonymous4/17/2009

    Love your recipes! Must admit that I just discovered Cooking for one or two. The recipes are not only tasty but very calorie wise and easy for a person to use. I spend 5 months a year in New Mexico and Kitchen Parade is on the lips of all my friends. They love your style and your tips although most have been cooking far longer than you have been alive. Thank you so much, and the gals and guys in the RV park thank you also. Cecilea

  16. Barbara10/16/2011

    I just made this for the first time with maple syrup and shallots -- it was absolutely delicious, elegant, and so easy. Thank you!

  17. I have made this recipe from your Kitchen Parade website for about a year and it is one of my favorite ways to do chicken. My husband simply loves it and is so excited every time I make it. Thanks for the delicious and oh-so-easy recipe, Alanna. I love your website with all those great recipes and I also enjoy your Veggie Venture page...keep up the good work :)

  18. Dee ~ What sweet words to start off the new year! Many thanks for taking the time to write, your encouragement means the world! Happy New Year to you!

  19. My new son-in-law had never cooked, but loved being assigned the job of pounding the chicken breasts. Our favorite is to add some capers and sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce before serving.

  20. I have a question that my daughters have asked of me. I have assumed that when a recipe calls for "chicken breast" it means the whole breast, both sides. My daughters say it means a halve and that people have gone to referring to the halves as the breast. Which is right?

  21. Aiii yai yai - I feel like the Car Talk Guys, negotiating between spouses! You may all be right. Technically I think you are right, that the "breast" does indeed include both sides of the, what is it called, the sternum? the clavicle? But in common parlance, just as women have two breasts, so do chickens. Hope this helps!

  22. I've been cooking your recipes for years and they always turn out so delicious! This is my husband's new fave. Thanks for sharing.

  23. My favorite kind of recipe - easy and adaptable! So glad I found it. I want to try it with a little pesto added.

  24. Barbara1/30/2012

    made the cybil chicken... to die for...

  25. This made such a nice dinner. Delicious, company worthy sauce. Went with diced red pepper,sour cream and orange marmalade. Thank you so much.

  26. I recently made this using a few mushrooms, one leek, and a few cherry tomatoes as the optional variations. It enabled me to get rid of odds and ends. I was going to use low fat sour cream for the sauce, but I did not have enough so I used fat free half and half. It was delicious! I plan to make this over and over. The mushrooms and tomatoes were better in it than the leek. However, it was first rate.

  27. I made Chicken Sybil recently with a few mushrooms, one leek, and a few cherry tomatoes as the add ins. I used fat free half and half in the sauce. It was wonderful! A real hit and only 4 PointsPlus. I plan to use sour cream in the sauce next time which will make it 5 PointsPlus. (I ran it through recipe buildinger on the Weight Watchers site both ways.)

  28. Hi, wanted to let you know I use your QUICK SUPPER: CHICKEN SYBIL Multiple-personality chicken recipe often but tonight I made it with flounder. T'was wonderful!
    FYI, these are the ingredients I had on hand and chose:
    minced onion and fresh sliced mushrooms sauteed for the first sauce
    Second sauce:
    home made chicken broth, frozen cranberries, lite sour cream, grainy mustard, BBQ sauce, orange marmalade, chutney, sf syrup

  29. Alanna,

    This is such a great recipe! No matter how times I make it, I’m always amazed at how quickly it comes together and with such great flavor. Tonight I used mushrooms, sour cream and marmalade. Just delicious! Thank you for a wonderful recipe!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna