How to Cook Chicken Breasts Perfectly

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Here’s how to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts so they’re deliciously browned on the outside and juicy on the inside—and it’s easy!

Here’s how to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts so they’re deliciously browned on the outside and juicy on the inside—and it’s easy!

We love boneless skinless chicken breasts. Chicken, in fact, is the most popular type of animal protein in the U.S. by far—the National Chicken Council estimates that in 2019 we’ll eat almost twice as much chicken as the next most popular meat, beef—and breasts are definitely the most popular part of the chicken.

Because they have less fat, though, chicken breasts can go from perfectly cooked to dry and tough very quickly. Also because they have less fat, chicken breasts can be a little, well, flavorless.

But my cooking method conquers both of those potential problems.

What’s my method? Pan-roasting.

Pan-roasting is the best of stovetop cooking plus the best of oven cooking. You start in a very hot skillet on the stovetop, which quickly sears one side of the chicken and gets that nice browning. (Browning means caramelization, which means flavor.) Then you flip the chicken and move the skillet to the oven, where the second side browns from contact with the skillet while the oven’s heat roasts the inside to cooked-but-still-juicy perfection.

In fact, pan-roasting is a great cooking method for any protein that’s about 3/4-inch or thicker. Steaks, chops, and salmon, for example. Chicken thighs, too.

When I previously explained how to grill chicken breasts perfectly, I showed you how to pound the chicken pieces to an even thickness. If they’re an even thickness, they cook more evenly. If not, the thinner parts can get dry and tough before the thicker parts are done. Also, because it’ll help make the breasts a more even thickness, remove the tenders if they’re still there. (I keep a bag of chicken tenders in the freezer, adding to it when I remove them from breasts I’ll be pan-roasting. Once I’ve collected enough, I use the tenders for stir-fry or chicken tender tacos.)

Your chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. If it’s about 1 1/4 inches thick or less, you can also test for doneness by touch—a perfectly cooked chicken breast should feel firm, but not rock hard. Or you can use this method, going for medium for chicken.

And one last thing that will help ensure juicy chicken—let it rest. I know, I know. That takes patience. But a short rest helps the meat hold on to its moisture, ensuring that the last bite will be as juicy as the first.

Enjoy!

Christine :)

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How to Cook Chicken Breasts Perfectly


  • Author: Allie McDonald
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

Here’s how to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts so they’re deliciously browned on the outside and juicy on the inside—and it’s easy!


Ingredients

  • 4 (7-8 oz.) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. If the thickness of the chicken breasts is very uneven, pound them a bit to even things out (see this post for how to do that), keeping the chicken 3/4- to 1-inch thick.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat a large oven-safe skillet (large enough to hold the chicken without crowding) over medium-high heat.
  5. When the skillet is good and hot, add the oil.
  6. When the oil is good and hot, add the chicken and cook undisturbed until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Turn the chicken and place the skillet in the oven until the chicken is cooked throughout, 6 to 8 minutes.
  8. Remove the skillet from the oven (be careful—it will be very hot).
  9. Transfer the chicken to plates and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Here’s how to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts so they’re deliciously browned on the outside and juicy on the inside—and it’s easy!

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