Cooking a chicken breast should be as easy as banging it in the oven with the rest of your dishes – but anyone who has ever done this will know it’s not.
There’s an art to avoiding tough, dry chicken and cooking the juiciest, most flavorful chicken possible. And we’re not limiting you here, either, as we’ll be sharing three ways to cook chicken to perfection.
So, choose your favorite method out of those listed here and prepare to take your chicken game to a whole new level!
Let’s get started!
First: the pounding
Pounding a chicken breast isn’t essential, but it will make it more even, which produces better cooking results. To pound a chicken breast, lay it on a plastic wrap and cover it with another piece of plastic wrap. Then use a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat mallet to pound both downwards and sideways.
Chicken cook #1: in the pan
Cooking a full chicken breast in a pan might seem a little scary – heat too high and you’ll burn the outside before the inside is cooked; heat too low and you’ll be there all day. The first hack is to leave your chicken breast out of the fridge for 20 minutes to get it down to room temperature, which will make it easier to cook.
You can use a cast iron or stainless steel non-stick pan for cooking your chicken. Set the pan to a medium-high heat and leave it for two minutes. Season your chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper, then add two tablespoons of oil to your pan, followed by the chicken. Cook for four minutes, then flip and cook for another three to four minutes.
Chicken cook #2: in the oven
Chicken in the oven is the easiest method, though not quite as effective as pan-cooking. Again, let the chicken breast sit in room temperature to warm it up before it goes in the oven, and add your seasonings or marinade now. Then preheat your oven to 450 degrees, line a sheet tray with tin foil, place the chicken on top and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
It’s ridiculously easy to overcook your chicken in the oven, but did you know you can buy oven-safe thermometers that you can use to check on your dishes? Stick the probe in your chicken after 10 minutes and look for a temperature of 155 degrees F. When it’s reached this temperature, put it out on the side and wait for the temperature to rise to the desired 160 degrees F (which it will do, as the chicken will continue cooking).
Chicken cook #3: poached
Never poached a chicken in water before? It might sound a bit odd, but it’s something you have to try if you haven’t already! Because chicken breasts are lean and don’t have much fat, poaching can really bring out their flavor.
You don’t want to poach chicken in plain old water – add lemon slices, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns, smashed garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, sliced red onions, and a generous pinch of salt. This will season the chicken as it’s poaching. Turn to a medium-high heat, wait for the water to simmer, then turn down to below a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then stick a probe into the inside of your chicken and, again, look for 155 degrees F. Remove once the chicken has reached this temperature.
There you have it – three simple ways to cook a chicken breast!
Be sure to watch the video below if you’re more of a visual learner. It’ll show you exactly what you need to do for each of these methods.
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