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How to Bake the Best Chicken Breast
Juicy baked chicken breasts can either be fully cooked in the oven, or seared on the stove-top first and finished in the oven. Either way, the key to perfect crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside oven baked chicken breasts is:
- A high temperature
- A quick cooking time
Especially for leaner cuts, high heat crisps up the outside and cooks the inside before it goes dry. Some people swear by an initial blast of high heat, followed by a low and slow treatment, but experiment on your own and see what you prefer. As with any other roasted meat, chicken needs to rest after it comes out of the oven. That way, the juices settle in the meat (instead of running out all over your cutting board).
What Temperature Should You Cook Chicken Breast To?
Undercooked chicken is hazardous, not to mention a culinary tragedy. Instead of judging by look and feel, use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat. When the thickest part of your chicken breast hits 160°F, you know you’re good to go.
Factors to Consider for Baked Chicken Recipes
- Chicken breast size. Look for tender chicken breasts with an even thickness, and keep in mind that the larger the size, the longer the cook time will likely be. A 10-ounce chicken breast may need 20 minutes, while a 5-ounce one might only need 12.
- Bone-in/boneless and skin-on/skinless. It’s general opinion that bone-in meat carries more flavor, but it also takes longer to cook than a boneless chicken breast, due to the way heat radiates throughout the meat. Meanwhile, skinless chicken breast has no barrier to retain moisture, or internal conductors of heat. This means it will cook faster, but also dry out much quicker. There’s a reason a whole roasted chicken is so succulent—all those bones and crackling, salty skin are the full flavor expression of the bird.
- Stuffing chicken breast. Stuffed chicken breast is a classic technique, achieved by either cutting a deep horizontal slit in the meat or by pounding it thin and then rolling it into a roulade. A stuffed chicken breast recipe is great if you’re low on time: since stuffing is usually either fully cooked (like rice) or a light vegetable that doesn’t require too much additional heat (like asparagus), cook times are usually quite low.
- Breaded chicken breast. Add another layer of flavor with a classic Italian crispy, crunchy breaded chicken. Start by cooking for 30 minutes at 350°F and monitor every 10 minutes thereafter. Cooking at a lower temperature will prevent the breadcrumbs from burning (make sure to let the chicken rest after cooking!).
- Seasoning chicken breast. If you’re not using a flavorful spice rub or a brine to prepare your chicken breast, be sure to season the meat well on all sides with salt and pepper. Follow this easy recipe or consider incorporating herbs like thyme and oregano to add more depth of flavor to your chicken breast.
Easy Baked Chicken Breast Recipe With a Basic Spice Rub
Prep Time10 min
Total Time30 min
Cook Time20 min
- 4 tsp paprika
- 4 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Combine paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl to create the rub.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Drizzle olive oil over chicken breasts, then coat in the spice rub. Place chicken on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish.
- Cook chicken breasts for 10 minutes, then flip and bake for another 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest parts reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
- When chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when poked, remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve with mashed potatoes or Chef Gordon Ramsay’s pomme purée.
Once you’ve mastered the art and science of baking chicken breast in the oven, try cooking it in a pan, à la Chef Gordon Ramsay.