Everybody will love this Chicken in Creamy Mustard Sauce. It’s just 4 base ingredients – chicken breast or thighs, cream, Dijon mustard and wholegrain mustard. Optionally bump the dish up another rung with the addition of fresh tarragon and parsley too!
Chicken with creamy mustard sauce
This is one of those recipes that will save you on those nights you’re staring at chicken breast or thighs and wondering, “What the heck am I going to make for dinner, fast?”
Here, chicken is seared until golden and served with a creamy mustard sauce that takes barely a minute to come together. The trick to making such a simple cream sauce delectable is to mix the cream with 2 types of mustard. Dijon is there for its smooth and mild mustard flavour as well thickening power, while wholegrain mustard adds visual interest and lovely pops of mustard seeds.
If you want a truly guest-worthy version, there’s the option to add fresh tarragon. This soft herb is commonly used in French cuisine, and has a delicate but distinct flavour that goes wonderfully with anything creamy. It really gives this sauce a restaurant-like vibe. Try it once and you’ll understand exactly what I mean!
What you need for this dish
Here’s all you need to make this simple-yet-fabulous chicken dinner:
Chicken – While I prefer to make this with thighs because they’re juicier and require no prep, it will work just as well with chicken breast.
Other proteins – This sauce and same cook method will work perfectly with thin pork chops, turkey steaks or white fish fillets.
Cream – The creamy base for the sauce. It’s best to use thickened / heavy cream as you get a head start on thickening the sauce. However, it will also work with ordinary pouring cream.
Low fat cream – It will work but the sauce will not have the same luscious mouthfeel due to the lower fat content. The sauce will also be thinner for the same reason.
Dijon mustard – This plus the cream are the two key ingredients for the sauce. Dijon is a smooth, mildly-flavoured mustard that adds flavour as well as thickening the sauce. While not all Dijon mustards are created equal, there’s no need to use a pricey gourmet Dijon here. Just your everyday brands are fine.
Wholegrain mustard – The mustard seeds add visual interest as well as little pops of faint pungency in this sauce. Because this sauce is so simple as it is, I really urge you to use this mustard, but it’s handy to know that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have it either. Just dial up the Dijon by an extra teaspoon or so to compensate.
Make it dinner party-worthy with fresh herbs
The mustard cream sauce is delicious as-is but the addition of fresh herbs really gives the sauce a bit more finesse. Here are the herbs that I like to use:
Tarragon – This herb has a mild aniseed flavour with subtle vanilla undertones. It’s commonly paired with both chicken and cream in French cuisine, which means I automatically think it gives this sauce a “fine dining” pedigree of sorts!
Fresh parsley – For a hint of freshness but more for colour than flavour.
How to make Chicken with Creamy Mustard Sauce
If you’re using boneless chicken thighs as I’ve done, there’s no prep required. However, if you’re using chicken breast, you’ll need to split each breast in half to form 2 thin steaks. For the best results, I’d also recommend pounding them to an even thickness to both tenderise and cook through evenly.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. (Note: If using breast, cut in half to form 2 thin steaks, and pound into 1 cm / 1/3-inch even thickness).
Cook chicken – Sear the chicken until golden and cooked through.
– Thighs: Use medium-high heat; 4 minutes on the first side and 3 to 4 minutes on the second side.
– Breast: It will only take around 2 minutes on each side over high heat.
Pro tip: Don’t use a non-stick pan. The secret to a great pan sauce is the residual golden bits of meat stuck to the bottom of the pan after searing the meat (called fond in French). They’re packed with meaty, umami-laden flavours and dissolve into the sauce once you add liquid to the pan.
However, if you use a non-stick pan, you will not get fond. So it is best to use a cast-iron skillet or other heavy-based pan that does not have a non-stick coating to encourage fond development – we want a little sticking!
Remove chicken to a plate. The chicken will rest while we make the sauce. Resting meat is a key step with any cooked protein. Resting time allows the juices to re-settle within the meat so when you cut into the chicken to eat it, the juices stay in the meat instead of bleeding on to the plate. Wasted meat juices are the tears of weeping food angels …
Scrape out and discard any loose burnt bits so you don’t end up with black bits littered in your sauce.
Sauce – To make the sauce, simply put the cream and both mustards into the pan and stir until the mustard has dissolved. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir if you can feel the fond still stuck, to get all that good stuff into the sauce. Keep heating the sauce until it’s hot and that’s all you need to do. You don’t even need to bring it to a simmer, nor do you need to reduce to thicken the sauce as the dijon mustard thickens it for us.
Stir in the herbs right at the end, which preserves their fresh vibrancy. Adjust the sauce consistency if needed with a tablespoon of water.
Serve – To serve, simply place a piece of chicken on the plate and spoon over the sauce. The recipe makes about 2/3 cups of sauce which is plenty for the chicken with some leftover to also sauce up your mash or vegetable sides!
What I serve with this
For a speedy dinner option, I served this today with a Rocket Salad (though I skipped the parmesan) and a bread roll for mopping my plate clean.
Other starchy options for sauce-mopping include mash, rice, everybody’s favourite no-knead Crusty Artisan Bread or pasta. Try it with a Mega Italian Salad on the side, a fresh Garden Salad or a big pan of roasted vegetables.
I’d love to know if you try this! Let me know what you think. – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Chicken in Creamy Mustard Sauce
But even if you don't have fresh tarragon or don't like it, this is absolutely still worth making. In fact, I've probably made it as often without tarragon as I have with!
- 700g / 1.4 lb chicken thigh fillets , skinless boneless (4 – 6 pieces, Note 1)
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Creamy mustard sauce:
- 1/2 cup thickened/heavy cream
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1/4 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1-2 tbsp water , as needed
- 2 tsp fresh tarragon , finely chopped (Note 2)
- 2 tsp parsley , finely chopped
Season chicken with the salt and pepper.
Sear chicken thighs – Heat oil in a large pan that is not non-stick over medium-high heat. (Note 3) Place chicken in pan smooth side-down and cook for 4 minutes or until deep golden. Turn and cook the other side for 3 minutes until cooked through (internal temperature 65°C/149°F, Note 4). Remove to a plate.
Breast – If using breast (prepared per Note 1), sear on high for 2 minutes on each side, target temp 67°C/153°F.)
Clean pan – Scrape any loose black bits out of the pan and discard.
Make sauce – Return the pan to medium heat. Add cream and both mustards. Mix with a wooden spoon until mustard dissolves, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the pan. Once sauce is hot but not simmering, stir in salt, pepper and herbs (if using). If getting too thick loosen with a touch of water.
Serve – Place chicken on serving plates. Spoon over sauce. Enjoy!
2. Fresh herbs – Tarragon has a mild aniseed flavour with subtle vanilla notes, and is a herb commonly used in French cuisine. It gives this simple sauce a little extra finesse and freshness.
If you don’t have it or don’t like it, just leave it out. There is no other herb quite like it (including dried). This sauce is still wonderful without the fresh herbs and I’ve probably made it as often without as I have with the fresh herbs.
3. Pan – Best to use a pan that does not have a non-stick coating so you get brown bits left on the pan from searing the chicken (called “fond”) which adds valuable flavour into this otherwise simple sauce. See post for more info. Well-seasoned cast iron skillet works well, otherwise any other pan that’s not non-stick.
4. Internal temperatures:
- Thighs – pull off stove at 72°C/ 162°F, rises to 76°C/169°F after resting
- Breast – pull off stove at 67°C/153°F, rises to 71°C/160°F after resting
5. Storage – Cooked chicken and sauce will keep for 3 – 4 days in the fridge. Not suitable for freezing (the sauce isn’t great if frozen).
6. Nutrition per serving (chicken and sauce only), assuming 4 servings.
Life of Dozer
That time Dozer couldn’t attend an event with me so the organisers made a giant cut out of him to sit by my side on the stage. I’ll be doing a book tour update post soon where I’ll share more details about this event. I even did a cooking demo on stage!
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