Airline Chicken Breast


This airline chicken was born out of necessity. Since food for air travel needs to be prepared far in advance, airlines back in the day created a special cut of chicken breast that wouldn't dry out as much as normal.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
50 mins
2 airline chicken breasts


  • 1 whole chicken

  • 1 drizzle olive oil

  • kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 2 pinches herbes de Provence, or to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

  • ½ cup chicken stock, or to taste


  1. Slice off 1/2 of each chicken wing by cutting through the joint where wing meets drumette. Slice through skin between thighs and breasts. Make a shallow cut along breast bone and 2 deep cuts on either side, separating breasts.

  2. Slice each breast off the carcass using the tip of the knife, keeping the blade pressed against bone. Cut through cartilage to remove breast with wing attached. Reserve remaining chicken and carcass for another use.

  3. Remove tenders from breasts and trim as needed. Season tenders with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, herbes de Provence, and cayenne pepper.

  4. Push your finger gently under skin of each breast, right next to wing bone, to separate it from meat. Slide 1 tender under skin, center it, and smooth over skin. Sprinkle kosher salt over breasts.

  5. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, skin-side down. Cook until the bottom is browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Flip, reduce heat to medium, and cook until no longer pink on the inside and the juices run clear, 7 to 10 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). 

  6. Add 1 tablespoon butter, thyme, and rosemary to the skillet. Baste chicken with butter-herb mixture. Remove chicken from the skillet.

  7. Pour stock into the skillet; increase heat to high. Boil until reduced to desired thickness, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and whisk remaining 2 tablespoons butter into sauce.

  8. Slice each chicken breast into thirds and spoon sauce on top.

    close up view of sliced Airline Chicken Breast with spinach on a white plate
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

Feel free to use whatever spices and seasoning you wish since that will not affect the technique. To prep the chicken ahead of time, cover it in plastic wrap and refrigerate after seasoning.

You're usually told to cook chicken to 165 degrees F (74 degrees C), but I usually stop at 150 degrees F (66 degrees C) for more tender results.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of chicken. The amount consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

1122 Calories
79g Fat
8g Carbs
94g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 2
Calories 1122
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 79g 101%
Saturated Fat 27g 134%
Cholesterol 337mg 112%
Sodium 777mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 94g
Vitamin C 46mg 229%
Calcium 171mg 13%
Iron 10mg 56%
Potassium 1001mg 21%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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