How to Cook Perfect, Juicy Chicken Breast
Here, how to bake, boil, pan-sear and grill chicken breast. Juicy results every time.
By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen
Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.
Chicken breasts are a go-to staple, lauded for their neutral flavor profile and versatility. But there are a few techniques to master to ensure that your chicken breasts turn out juicy, tender and flavorful. Here, we answer all your pressing chicken breast questions and share our top recipes for making chicken breasts.
How Long to Cook Chicken Breast
You’ll know your chicken is done when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers a temperature of 165 F. Or use a paring knife to cut into the thickest part of the chicken to ensure there’s no visible pink meat.
Keep in mind that how long you cook chicken breast depends on two factors: its weight and whether it’s boneless, skinless or bone-in, skin-on. If you’re using a recipe, stick to the instructions.
For general chicken breast baking times, follow these ranges:
- 20 to 30 minutes for large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked in a 375 degrees F oven
- 35 to 40 minutes for large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts cooked in a 375 degrees F oven
For more details on the differences between cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts and bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, check out our How Long to Cook Chicken Breast in the Oven story.
How to Bake Chicken Breast
For perfectly juicy, flavorful and tender baked chicken breasts, follow the technique in this Baked Chicken Breasts with Parmesan Crust recipe (pictured above). Breading the chicken (step 2) is optional but yields a more golden color and crisp texture.
1: Preheat the Oven
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2: Season the Chicken and Pound It Flat
Season the chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper. To even out their thickness and ensure uniformly cooked chicken breasts, you can tap them all over with a meat mallet.
3: Optional: Bread the Chicken
Brush the chicken all over in Dijon mustard. Dredge the chicken in a mixture of equal parts freshly grated Parmesan and panko breadcrumbs.
4: Bake the Chicken
Put the chicken on a rack set over a baking sheet, spray with a quick burst of cooking spray and put the sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake until the chicken is golden and cooked through, checking by inserting an instant read thermometer into the center of the chicken breast, 15 to 20 minutes for 8-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts.
5: Rest the Chicken
Let the chicken rest 5 minutes before cutting or serving.
How to Boil Chicken Breast
Master the preparation outlined in this Poached Chicken for Salads recipe and you’ll have perfectly poached chicken on hand to add to salads, sandwiches, wraps and grain bowls. Using bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and boiling them in chicken broth fortified with aromatics yields a flavorful result. Plus, this recipe makes delicious homemade chicken broth, so be sure to reserve the cooking liquid.
1: Add Chicken and Aromatics to a Pot
Put parsley, thyme, onion, carrot, celery and bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in a medium saucepan. Cover with chicken broth and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat to very low and cover.
2: Poach the Chicken
Poach chicken (with the lid on) until firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
3: Cool the Chicken
Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and cool the chicken in the liquid for 30 minutes.
4: Remove the Bones and Skin
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and reserve the liquid. Bone and skin the chicken and cut the meat into cubes. Discard the bones and skin.
5: Strain the Broth
Strain the broth and store, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days or freeze for later use. Remove any fat from the surface of the broth before using.
How to Cook Chicken Breast on Stove
This aptly named Easy Juicy Chicken Breast recipe offers a simple method to cooking chicken breasts on the stovetop. Finishing the breasts in the oven in a covered skillet with a little broth helps ensure that the chicken breasts don’t dry out.
1: Pound and Season the Chicken Breasts
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cover 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with plastic wrap or place in a large resealable bag. Pound the chicken to an even thickness with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Season both sides of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
2: Sear the Chicken In a Skillet
Heat a medium skillet (with lid) over medium-high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and swirl to coat the skillet. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 1 minute without moving. Flip and cook for 1 more minute on the second side.
3: Finish Cooking the Chicken In the Oven
Add 2 tablespoons chicken stock to the skillet, cover the skillet with a lid and transfer it to the oven. Cook, covered, for 8 minutes. Set the skillet on the stovetop (no heat) with the lid still on; let sit for 8 minutes more without lifting the lid.
4: Check for Doneness and Serve:
After 8 minutes, check the chicken’s internal temperature by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast; it should read 165 degrees F. Slice and serve.
How to Grill Chicken Breast
To ensure juicy, flavorful grilled chicken, start with bone-in, skin-on breasts. For a detailed step-by-step guide, check out our How to Grill Chicken story.
1: Prep the Chicken 15 Minutes Before Cooking
Pat the breasts dry with paper towel to remove excess moisture (this helps the skin crisp). Next, season both sides generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature for 15 minutes; this ensures even cooking results, plus, it gives the salt and pepper time to permeate the skin.
2: Meanwhile, Preheat a Clean Grill with Two Cooking Zones
Create a hot zone for charring and crisping the skin, and a cool zone to gently cooking the chicken through. Cover the grill with the lid vents open and preheat it for 15 minutes. The fire should be very hot, about 500 degrees F.
3: Start Grilling the Chicken on the Cool Zone
Place the chicken skin-side up on the cooler part of the grill. Close the lid and cook for about 15 minutes. Check occasionally; if the chicken’s exterior is burning, move it to a cooler area. Use tongs to flip the chicken, cover, and cook about 15 minutes more, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of a chicken breast registers 150 degrees F.
4: Baste with Sauce, If Using
At this point you can baste the chicken with sauce, if using.
5: Finish Cooking the Chicken on the Hot Side
Move the chicken to the hot side of the grill to finish cooking and crisp up, about 5 minutes. Remove the breasts when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Allow the chicken to rest at least 5 minutes prior to serving (the internal temperature will rise about 5 degrees while resting, bringing it to the doneness temperature of 165 degrees F).