How to Cook Chicken Breasts the Right Way
With this simple method, you'll have moist, safe, and tasty chicken breasts every time
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Look at a boneless, skinless chicken breast, and what do you see? About the leanest form of animal protein you can eat, obviously. But you also likely see something that’s boring, dry, and flavorless. That’s because most people don’t know how to cook it. Here’s an easy, quick, foolproof method to make delicious chicken breasts every time.
Stuff You’ll Need
- A pan or pot with a tight-fitting lid. I cook pretty much everything in a seven-quart Lodge Enameled Dutch oven.
- One boneless, skinless chicken breast per person, the higher quality, the better
- Olive oil. Get the real stuff if you can find it.
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
Make sure your breasts are fully defrosted if they were frozen. Remove all the packaging, and put them on something that can contain liquid overflow, like a rimmed plate. Apply a generous amount of the seasonings and enough olive oil to coat all sides of the chicken. Rub in everything. Wash your hands thoroughly, and set the chicken aside to rest.
Put your pan or pot on the stovetop, add a drop of olive oil, and turn the burner on high. After a few minutes, that oil will start smoking, and that’s when you know the pan is hot enough.
Cooking the Perfect Chicken Breast
With the burner still on high, add the seasoned chicken breasts to the pan, and cook them uncovered for one minute. (I just count Mississippis in my head until I get to 60.)
After that minute is up, turn the heat to low, flip the breasts over, and put the lid on. Set a timer for ten minutes.
Once the timer sounds, turn the heat off, but leave the pan covered. Don’t open it to check on the chicken—that’ll let heat and moisture out. Set the timer for another ten minutes.
After that second round of ten minutes, move the breasts to a cutting board and slice them.
Prepared this way, chicken breasts will be cooked through, moist, and tender every single time. And because of that, they’re tasty enough to eat on their own, with your favorite vegetables as a side.
If you want to mix things up, top a salad with the sliced chicken breasts, and dress them with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you’re hungrier, cook some rice while you’re doing the chicken, and add that to a bowl with some avocado, cherry tomatoes, and baby spinach. Top with the sliced chicken, along with some sriracha, and you have a chicken-veggie bowl.
When I want to make a stir-fry, I also use this method. Just sauté some onions and garlic in a pan, add snap peas, carrots, spinach, and whatever else you might like, along with a splash of soy sauce, rice-wine vinegar, and maybe even a drizzle of sesame oil. When all that feels tender, stir in the chicken, and give it a minute to warm up and soak in the flavors before serving.
Chicken-fried rice? Pretty much the same as a stir-fry. Just crack some eggs in the pan as the vegetables become tender, and stir them around with the vegetables. Then add your cooked rice and the chicken breast, and you’re good to go.
And there you have it. Healthy, tasty, lean meals you can easily cook several nights a week.
Article originally published on Oct 3, 2020 and updated on Oct 21, 2022