Diet Recipe: Butterfly Chicken with Thyme and Garlic

Chicken: from bland filler to mouth-watering centrepiece in 20 minutes! – 77 calories / Syn Free / 1 Smart Point.
If you’re on a diet, chances are you’re eating plenty of chicken: it’s low calorie, low fat, high protein, Syn free on Slimming World and low Smart Points for Weight Watchers. I’ll be honest, I never used to rate chicken much. I found it bland, usually stringy and dry, so I only used it to bulk out sauce dishes like curry or pasta sauce. That is until I was given a griddle pan as a present. This recipe is so simple, it’s amazing. The chicken is moist, and the smoky griddle flavour goes so well with the thyme, garlic and salt. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it, and I had this tonight! Just try it and you’ll be amazed at how good this is.

Don’t own a griddle pan? This recipe alone is worth buying one for. And then there’s griddled steak, and griddled vegetables. It’s the one thing you never knew you needed, until now. Here’s one that’s cheap and works great when cooking for yourself or a small family: Kitchen Craft Enamelled Cast Iron 23 cm Square Grill Pan (affiliate link).

This recipe is fast and delicious. It’s versatile too. Serve it as-is with some roast potatoes and vegetables or side-salad. Or slice it into strips and serve as part of a salad. Why not put chunks of this with a simple sauce over some pasta. The possibilities are endless. Heck, I’ve had a massive portion of this chicken on its own before when I couldn’t be bothered to cook anything else to go with it. And it didn’t feel like a bad thing, it’s that good.

Preparation time
10 min
Cooking time
10 min
Total time
20 min


This recipe uses some UK names. Hover over the translation icon or use the Translations for Cooking Terms, Ingredients and Measures page for US equivalents.

The quantities for this recipe are really just a guide. Use as much or as little of each ingredient as your taste buds tell you to.

Buy fresh
2 Chicken breasts
2 Large garlic cloves
4 sprigs Thyme
From the pantry
Flaked salt US: Kosher salt

Diet friendly

At 77 calories, Syn Free on Slimming World and only 1 Weight Watchers Smart Point, whichever way you serve it, you’d be hard pressed to turn this tasty diet chicken recipe into anything other than a weight loss dream.

Diet Recipe: Butterfly Chicken with Thyme and Garlic Nutrition: 77 calories, 0 Syns, 1 Smart Point
Nutrition for the Butterfly Chicken with Thyme and Garlic diet recipe: 77 calories, 0 Syns, 1 Smart Point

Method – brief

  • Finely chop the thyme and garlic.
  • Butterfly and flatten the chicken, and sprinkle both sides with thyme, garlic and salt.
  • Griddle over a high heat until just cooked. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Method – detail

Preparing the ingredients

  • Butterfly chicken with thyme and garlic ingredientsRemove the tough woody stems from the thyme, keeping any leaves and soft green stems. Finely mince the thyme.
  • Finely chop the garlic.
  • Butterfly the chicken (how to article) and lay out on a chopping board.
  • Cover the chicken with a layer of clingfilm US: Saran Wrap. Using a heavy base pan or a meat mallet, flatten the chicken until it’s of roughly equal thickness all the way through, about 1-2 cm thick (1/2 to 1 inch).

Tip: A large, heavy, flat surface is best for this. Why not use your griddle pan? Hold it with both hands and bring down on the chicken firmly several times. Even thickness means even cooking, so you won’t get some bits barely cooked and other bits overcooked.

  • Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the thyme, garlic and salt.
  • Evenly distribute the ingredients and pat them down to help them stick when you cook the chicken.

Safety first! Raw chicken contains bacteria that cause food poisoning, so it’s important to not contaminate ingredients, tools and surfaces. To ensure safety, I use each hand for a different task. One hand grabs and sprinkles the ingredients. The other hand pats the ingredients down and flips the chicken over. This means I always have one clean hand to grab things, and I can put any unused ingredients back in the cupboard without fear of food poisoning.


  • Get your griddle pan really hot. I mean ripping hot. A quick test is to pour a small amount of vegetable oil onto the griddle, when that starts to give off black smoke, the griddle is ready. Make sure it’s only a very small amount of oil, you won’t actually be using this oil for cooking.

Tip: Close your kitchen door and open some windows, or you’re likely to set off your fire alarm.

  • If your griddle is non-stick, e.g. Teflon coated, enamelled or seasoned cast iron, don’t worry about using any cooking spray to prevent sticking. If you do find food sticks, spray the food before cooking, not the griddle.
  • Put the chicken on the griddle and leave it there for a few minutes, until it starts to go white roughly half way up the side. Flip it over and leave it there until it is done. If you’ve done a good job of flattening the chicken it won’t be long at all!

Tip: For the moistest result, use a cooking thermometer to check the chicken. Take it off when it reaches about 72-73°C (162°F). It will continue to rise a bit while resting and ensure any harmful bacteria are killed off.

  • Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. During cooking the internal structure of the meat tightens, letting it rest will allow this to relax a bit and keep more moisture in when you cut into it.
  • If you want to keep this warm until other parts of your meal are finished, set it in an oven of about 70°C. Any hotter and it will overcook.

6 Comments Add yours

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