Boneless, skinless chicken breasts have a bad reputation for being dry and tough. While chicken breasts are certainly a go-to cut for various dishes due to their convenience, versatility, and quick cook time, no one likes a dry chicken breast. It’s time to change all of that with this recipe for tender and juicy chicken breasts, every time.
These baked chicken breasts are not only juicy, they’re easy, too. All it takes is a bit of hands-off time and one simple trick for perfectly seasoned, moist chicken that can be used in so many ways.
The Most Common Mistake and How to Avoid It
The dry, tough reputation of boneless, skinless chicken breasts is due to one main factor: overcooking. How can you avoid making this fatal mistake?
Since chicken breasts are a lean cut, once they reach the safe temperature of 165°F they’re already on the way to overcooking and drying out. Therefore, it’s best to remove the chicken once an instant-read thermometer reaches 155°F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
The residual heat will continue to cook the chicken breasts once they’re out of the oven, bringing them up to temperature while keeping them moist and juicy.
An Easy Trick for Flavorful, Juicy Chicken
The other secret to juicy chicken breasts comes in the form of a dry brine that needs nothing more than a liberal dose of salt and a little bit of patience.
Traditional brining involved making a salt solution (basically salt dissolved in water) and soaking the uncooked ingredients in the solution before cooking. While this is a great method for certain things, in this case a dry brine is preferred. Chicken breasts have a tendency to soak up water, so a wet brine can lead to waterlogged meat that isn’t very flavorful.
A dry brine works with the water that’s already present in the meat. The salt draws the moisture to the surface of the chicken breast, which in turn dissolves the salt, and is then reabsorbed back into the meat. All you have to do before you cook the chicken is dab off any excess moisture—no need to rinse it.
How to Store and Reheat
Once cooled completely, store the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Depending on how you plan to use it, you have some options for reheating the chicken. You can add the chicken directly to the sauce or broth of your dish to warm through, or you can heat it, covered, in the microwave just until warmed through.
Remember, the key to keeping chicken as moist and tender as possible is not to overcook it.
How to Serve These Baked Chicken Breasts
These chicken breasts are seasoned simply with salt, black pepper, and a bit of olive oil. That means you can use them in just about any dish you can think of. Cube them up and add to your favorite salad, shred them up for BBQ sandwiches, or slice them as a supplement alongside a weeknight pasta.
Here are some more dishes that make great use of these juicy chicken breasts:
- Chicken Cobbler
- Chicken and Dumplings
- Chicken Caesar Wrap
- Classic Chicken Salad
- Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Dry brine the chicken and preheat the oven:
Lay the chicken breasts on a plate or cutting board. Grab about half the salt with your fingertips and hold your hand at least 1 foot over the cutting board, then sprinkle the salt evenly over the chicken. Flip them and repeat so both sides are well seasoned.
Set a timer for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 425°F.
Prepare the chicken:
Once the timer has gone off, use a clean paper towel to pat the top of the chicken breasts dry. Transfer the chicken breasts dry side down to a rimmed baking pan or casserole dish, in a single layer, then pat the side that’s now facing up dry.
Season with black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake, rest, and serve:
Bake at 425°F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the thickest part of each breast reads at least 155°F with an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes, ensuring that the temperature rises to 165°F before serving.