Salt & Wind Travel

Sostanza Italian Butter Chicken

When you travel to Italy, you’ll likely search out all sorts of restaurants for all sorts of dishes, but let me introduce you to one that will make your trip memorable: the Sostanza Italian Butter Chicken.

The dish is named for the historic Trattoria Sostanza, where I first ate when my sister lived in Florence. Their signature dish is this Italian Butter Chicken and I still loved it and ate it regularly when I eventually lived in Florence myself. My family became obsessed with the dish and we tried over and over to recreate it. Once I graduated Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, I finally had the skills to crack the code and the result is this recipe.

And now, as a travel planners who curates itineraries to Italy for food lovers, we often get asked for recipes for dishes clients ate on their trip. And this recipes is no exception. 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Also, known as Tuscan Butter Chicken, Italian Butter Chicken, or simply as Butter Chicken, this recipe has long been associated with Trattoria Sostanza in Florence. So much so that the beloved author Elizabeth David shared a recipe for it in her definitive cookbook Italian Food

Sostanza Italian Butter Chicken Recipe

Recipe Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this Italian butter chicken:

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • unsalted butter
  • boneless, skin-on chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • unbleached all-purpose flour (or rice flour to make it gluten free)
  • garlic cloves
  • lemon
  • Fresh Italian parsley leaves

How To Make Italian Butter Chicken

Here are the steps to make this recipe:

  • Season And Dredge The Chicken: Season the chicken with salt and black pepper then dredge in flour and shake off the excess.
  • Melt The Butter And Brown The Chicken: Heat the olive oil and the butter on a pan or small cast iron skillet. Once the butter foams, place chicken skin-side down, and cook until skin is golden and the butter is starting to turn golden brown. 
  • Transfer To The Oven: Flip the chicken skin-side up, then add the garlic cloves, then transfer the pan to the oven and let it cook until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Baste The Chicken: After around 10 minutes, return the pan to the stovetop, baste the chicken briefly by spooning the butter over the chicken. Add the remaining butter then stir it and cook over medium heat until the butter is brown.
  • Serve: Serve immediately with a squeeze of the halved lemon or more to taste. And add a pinch of fresh parsley.

Frequently Asked Questions

Trattoria Sostanza Italian Butter Chicken is a famous dish from Trattoria Sostanza in Florence, Italy. It's known for its simplicity and rich flavor, featuring chicken cooked in a generous amount of butter until golden and crispy.

The dish is prepared by seasoning and flouring chicken breasts, then frying them in a large amount of butter. The chicken is cooked until it has a golden, crispy exterior while remaining juicy inside.

Traditional side dishes include simple Italian salads, roasted vegetables, or a light pasta dish. The dish's rich flavor pairs well with sides that offer a contrast in texture or a refreshing element.

Six Tips For Making Italian Butter Chicken

At Sostanza, they make this by dredging the chicken in egg but we like this simpler method. Also, they don’t use the garlic or the parsley but we like the extra flavor they both bring.

If you wanted you could alter it even further by say, topping it with crisped sage leaves, by wrapping the chicken in prosciutto as I did in this Prosciutto Sage Chicken recipe from my cookbook, Keys To The Kitchen, or by cooking the butter until it’s browned but that’s not necessary. Here are tips to making this dish a success every time:

  • Use a mix of olive oil and butter: Traditionally, this recipe is only made with butter. However, we add in a touch of olive oil in order to make it a little easier to cook without burning the butter. Go ahead and skip the olive oil if you are confident in your cooking skills. Oh, and keep in mind you do want the butter to be really browned (like a good beurre noisette) but you don’t want it to burn!
  • Add the butter in two steps: Another key to not burning the butter is to keep a few tablespoons of cold butter on the side and add it toward the end so that it lowers the cooking temperature.
  • Use skin-on chicken: A lot of variations of this recipe call for skinless chicken breasts, but we think that’s a shame. Keeping the skin on means you get a crispy coating that’s delicious!
  • Baste The Chicken: The key to this dish is the butter so not only do you want to use high quality (ideally European style) butter but also you want to baste the chicken in the butter when it comes out of the oven to really get the sauce all over!
  • Add Some Lemon Juice: You don’t have to add in lemon juice but we like that it adds a punch of acid and brightens the dish. This is not lemon butter chicken so you don’t need to add so much lemon juice that it is lemon-y tasting. Rather you’re just trying to add enough acid to cut through the sauce.
  • Serve It In A Small Pan: At the restaurant, the chicken is served in traditional two-handled Italian aluminum pans though you can also use a small cast iron pan as we did here!

A Bit About Trattoria Sostanza Florence

One place in Florence that’s as traditional as it gets is Trattoria Sostanza. The restaurant’s been open for more than 150 years and is nicknamed Il Troia (aka the trough) as diners line up to dig into their traditional Tuscan food.

Set on a small street near the Arno river, you could miss the restaurant if you weren’t looking for it. When you enter, you’ll notice a few things right away: there are only a handful of tables (so, yes, you need a reservation) and the decor is simple but comforting.

The food is traditionally Tuscan and their relatively short menu has a handful of classic dishes available at all times like tripe, bistecca all Fiorentina, sautéed porcini mushrooms, and beans in olive oil.

But their butter fried chicken breasts or petti di Pollo al burro is what they’re known for. In fact, we’d say it’s such a highlight that you shouldn’t order any other main dish when you visit.

My family has been frequenting Trattoria Sostanza since I was a child. And, after missing it, we were determined to figure out how to make the recipe at home. This is the technique we came up with that’s a twist on the original recipe (as in easier to make but just as delicious). And, we’ve been cooking it for years.

{Zucchine Alla Scapece} Fried Italian Zucchini With Mint Recipe

What To Serve With This Recipe

You could serve this with nothing more than a side salad of arugula, some wilted spinach, or white beans in olive oil. A few other recipes that would go well with this dish are:

Now, go stock up on all your cooking essentials, then head into the kitchen, make this, and share it with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!

Sostanza Italian Butter Chicken Recipe

Sostanza Italian Butter Chicken Recipe

Next time you go to Florence, pinky promise us that you'll stop by Trattoria Sostanza and order their beloved butter chicken dish. Until then, you can make this {Petti Di Pollo Al Burro} Sostanza Italian Butter Chicken version of the recipe at home!
4.9 from 16 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 Serving
Calories 446 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter divided (I like to use this Parmigiano Reggiano cream butter)
  • 2 (4 to 6 ounce) boneless, skin-on chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour can use rice flour to make it gluten free
  • 4 medium garlic cloves smashed (optional)
  • 1 medium lemon halved
  • Fresh Italian parsley leaves for garnish (optional)


  • Preheat The Oven: Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  • Coat The Chicken: Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper then dredge in flour and shake off the excess.
  • Make The Brown Butter:  Heat the olive oil and 4 tablespoons of the butter in a two-handled aluminum pan or a small cast iron skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter until it foams, place chicken skin-side down, and cook until skin is golden and the butter is starting to turn golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer To The Oven: Flip the chicken skin-side up, then add the garlic cloves, then transfer the pan to the oven and let it cook until the chicken is cooked through about 10 minutes.
  • Finish Cooking: Return the pan to the stovetop, baste the chicken briefly by spooning the butter over the chicken. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter then stir it and cook over medium heat until the butter is brown, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Serve immediately with a squeeze of the halved lemon or more to taste. And, if desired, add a pinch of fresh parsley.



Serving: 1 servingCalories: 446kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 3gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 23gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 8mgPotassium: 128mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1063IUVitamin C: 30mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 1mg
Keyword easy chicken recipe, Italian butter chicken, weeknight recipe
Tried this recipe?Mention @saltandwind or tag #swsociety!

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4.94 from 16 votes (16 ratings without comment)

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