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How to Cook Chicken Breast

Updated August 1, 2018
Say goodbye to sad, dry chicken dinners of the past. With these tips, you can make juicy, flavorful chicken breasts every time!

How to Prepare Chicken Breast

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a favorite in the kitchen for a number of reasons: they are easy to prepare, they are the leanest part of the chicken (making them a healthier protein choice) and they can be cooked quickly, which makes them ideal for busy weeknight dinners.

Whether you are cooking your chicken in the oven or on the stove, there are a few things you should keep in mind when preparing chicken breasts. Most chicken breasts are purchased with a varying amount of thickness. To ensure even cooking, pound each chicken breast on a cutting board until the thickness is uniform.

If you are looking to make plain chicken breast to add to salad, or serve with just a bit of lemon juice and fresh herbs, all you need to season the chicken breasts with is a sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides after patting the chicken dry. You may choose to season with additional ingredients like herbs and garlic. You can even marinate or brine the chicken beforehand—you can do both of these things as little as 30 minutes before cooking.

How to Cook Chicken Breast

Chicken breast can be a sad thing – pale, bland and the very definition of “obligation food.” But when cooked the right way, chicken breast can be the food you actually want to eat for dinner. We’re talking juicy, tender and savory. No sad chicken allowed.

Since boneless chicken breasts are quite lean, they have a tendency to dry out, which is why quicker methods of cooking like over the stove, grill or in the oven are your best options. We love this recipe for oven-baked chicken breasts for its simplicity and flavor. A brush of olive oil, garlic and herbs makes getting a flavorful chicken dinner on the table a snap, and we have tested the baking method to ensure your chicken is juicy and not dry. Serve with a side of veggies and you have a no-brainer nutritious dinner you can feel good about giving your family.

Seasoned Oven Roasted Chicken

What You Need:

  • 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish 
  • Small bowl 
  • Cutting board 
  • Brush 
  • Instant-read thermometer


  • 8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 lb) 
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley flakes 
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic pepper blend 
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves


Step 1: Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Brush both sides of 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil.

Brush chicken breasts with olive oil

Step 2: Combine seasonings in a small bowl: 1 ½ teaspoon dried parsley, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (think Lawry’s), 1 teaspoon garlic pepper blend and 1 teaspoon dried basil. Pro tip: If you don’t have garlic pepper, mix ½ teaspoon black pepper with ½ teaspoon garlic powder. You definitely have that, right? Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with your herb mixture, then place in the prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle chicken breasts with seasonings

Step 3: Bake uncovered 25 to 35 minutes or until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut and an instant-read thermometer reaches 165°F. Cool chicken 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Tips for Cooking Chicken Breast

Though chicken breasts at first seem simple, it can be easy to make a few cooking mistakes along the way. Armed with these tips, you will be able to cook flavorful, juicy chicken breasts every time—promise!

Tip 1: Often when shopping for chicken breast at the store, you’ll notice that many are thicker on one end than on the other. This can make cooking chicken breasts tricky, since one side will take longer to cook than the other, especially when cooking on the stove. To avoid this issue, pound your chicken breasts to uniform thickness. To do this, you’ll need a cutting board, a gallon-sized plastic zip-top bag and a meat mallet. (If you don’t have a meat mallet, a rolling pin will work.) Working with one piece of chicken at a time, place chicken breast into the bag and seal, pressing air out. Pound the chicken breast with mallet until you have the desired thickness.

Tip 2: It’s important to make sure that your chicken is fully cooked before serving. The easiest way to know if your chicken is ready to serve is to use an instant-read meat thermometer, stick it into the thickest part of the chicken, and check for a temperature of 165°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cut the chicken to see if the juices are clear. If they are, your chicken is ready to serve. If they are still a red-pink color, you will need to cook your chicken longer.

Tip 3: Want to add a crispy crust to your chicken? You can use a technique called “dredging.” To do this, you’ll need some flour, an egg that’s been whisked with water or milk and some seasoned breadcrumbs. In assembly-line fashion, coat one chicken breast in flour, then dip it in the egg mixture and finally coat it with breadcrumbs. You can then proceed with cooking! The preferred method when dredging chicken is to cook on the stove in some oil. Dredging chicken not only gives chicken more flavor and a crispy texture, but it also helps seal in moisture, ensuring that your chicken will be juicy and not dried out.

Take these tips and try ‘em out in these easy recipes that start with chicken breasts.

What to Cook with Chicken Breast

Chicken breast on its own is delicious, but often not a meal by itself. The answer for what to cook with chicken breast is a broad one—chicken breast can be paired with a variety of ingredients to make a delicious, well-rounded meal. Various vegetables, potatoes and salads go nicely with chicken breast. In some instances, you can cook everything together like on a sheet pan or in a casserole. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Chicken and Vegetables Sheet Pan Meal

Cooking chicken and vegetables together on one sheet pan is an easy way to get a full meal on the table fast. This particular recipe calls for only four ingredients: chicken breasts, frozen vegetables of your choosing, some oil and seasonings. It’s all done in 30 minutes, and truly customizable!

Slow-Cooker Creamy Tuscan Chicken

You can also cook an all-in-one meal featuring chicken breasts in the slow cooker. This Tuscan chicken combines a creamy sauce with ingredients like spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Serve over cooked pasta or rice and dinner is done.

Cheesy Southwest Chicken and Rice Casserole

We couldn’t forget the humble casserole! Chicken breasts are a great starting point in hearty casseroles. Chicken and rice are a popular casserole pairing, and this southwestern version is packed with flavor.

Easy Chicken Stroganoff

As mentioned earlier, cooking chicken breast on the stove is one of the easiest ways to prepare it without drying it out. This recipe takes that method and applies to a fan favorite: stroganoff! By ditching the beef and replacing it with chicken breast, this dish gets a better-for-you makeover that still tastes like your favorite comfort food.

You can, of course, prepare chicken breast separately and serve it with a side of veggies, potatoes, salad or bread. Here are some of our favorite side dishes for chicken breast.

What to Do with Leftover Chicken Breast

Leftover cooked chicken will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for 3 to 4 days, and it can be used in so many different dishes! Any recipe that calls for cooked or shredded rotisserie chicken is game. We love turning our leftover chicken into chicken salad sandwiches, but there are so many more recipes for you to choose from.

Psst! You can also freeze leftover chicken! Shred or cube your cooked chicken and store it in a sealed, freezer-friendly container for 3 to 6 months to have on hand when you need to add some protein to salads or soups. Let your frozen chicken defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then add it to the recipe of your choosing.

Never get bored of chicken by keeping all of our best recipes on hand.