How to bake chicken breasts without drying them out

Discover how khổng lồ cook chicken breast on the stove đứng đầu for tender, juicy, tasty meat. Learn 7 easy steps khổng lồ prevent your chicken breast from drying out in the pan.

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Are you tired of dry rubbery chicken breasts? vày you long for a simple chicken recipe that will yield a juicy chicken breast? You just want flavorful chicken that is a blank slate for any chicken recipe. Is that too much to ask?

No, my friend. It is a reasonable desire và totally achievable. The best way lớn get the result you want is lớn learn a few techniques. You can apply these techniques to a variety of cooking methods. But this article focuses on cooking boneless skinless chicken breast on the stove top.

The best way lớn cook chicken breast on the stove so it does not dry out is lớn follow seven crucial steps.

TemperTenderizeSeasonPreheat panDon’t overcookRestCut against the grain

I follow these 7 steps every time I cook boneless skinless chicken breast on the stove top. These techniques have never failed me. Every single time I follow this 7-step plan, the results are juicy chicken breast perfection — golden brown, moist, juicy, flavorful, scrumptious.


But that is not how my story started.

Afraid of under-cooked meat, I always used khổng lồ cook chicken too long. Dry, overcooked, rubbery chicken. That was my normal. However, that changed after a horrible dinner party.

I ran into an old friend và spontaneously invited her family over for dinner.

Grilled chicken was on the menu, so I threw the meat on the heat with a little seasoning và set the timer.

When the timer went off, our guests hadn’t arrived yet. So I turned off the heat, but kept the meat in the pan. Mistake!!!

By the time my friends arrived, the chicken was overcooked & dry. Though self-conscious about the unappetizing meal, I had no backup plan.

At dinner we all looked at the chicken dubiously. Everyone reassured me it was fine to lớn serve, so I did.

My family, accustomed khổng lồ eating my mistakes, powered on. My friend’s husband politely ate the chicken, but not my friend. She did not cảm biến it, not even feigning interest.

I was embarrassed & never saw her again. My chicken cooking disaster ruined what could have been a nice reunion.

I committed khổng lồ never let poorly cooked food ruin a friendship again. I was determined khổng lồ master the skill of cooking chicken on the stove. That led lớn research và experimentation, plus a ton of trial & error.

But the effort paid off. I discovered a method that works every time. & I want to mô tả what I learned with you.

Step 1: Temper the Chicken Breast


Have you heard the term “temper”, in reference to lớn meat? It was a new concept for me.

To temper meat means to lớn bring it closer khổng lồ room temperature before cooking it. Refrigerated chicken breast is about 40° F straight out of the refrigerator. Room temperature is generally 65-68° F.

It can be intimidating lớn let raw chicken sit on the counter. I agree. However, as long as you keep the chicken on a separate plate away from other ingredients & you temper only until the chicken reaches room temperature, you will be fine.

Raw chicken is not the problem. Cross-contamination is the problem. For more information, read my post on food safety.

The results of tempering will be worth the uneasiness you may feel seeing raw chicken on the counter for a few minutes. Tempered chicken sears and caramelizes beautifully. It takes less time to lớn cook và it cooks more evenly.

Cold chicken placed in a hot pan, cools the pan và results in an inconsistent sear, & slower, uneven cooking. The chicken may over up tasting rubbery. To lớn solve this problem, temper the chicken before cooking & preheat your grill pan.

How lớn Temper Chicken Breast


Remove the chicken breast from the refrigerator.Take off any plastic or wrappings và set the chicken on a plate on the counter away from direct sunlight. The chicken will be about 40° F.Let the chicken breast sit on the counter for 15 to trăng tròn minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. During this time, the chicken will warm up, about 10° F.Butterfly the breasts if they are thick. (See lưu ý below.)

Note: If your chicken is quite thick, butterfly it. What does it mean to butterfly chicken breasts? lớn butterfly chicken, slice the chicken in half horizontally.

Thinner chicken will warm up quickly và cook evenly and rapidly.

How lớn Butterfly Chicken


Hold a sharp chef knife in one hand and place your other hand on vị trí cao nhất of the chicken breast to steady it. The chicken breast will likely be thicker on one end và thinner on the other end.Start slicing at the thick end. When you cut the chicken horizontally, you will be able to open it, like a book. You can leave the chicken attached for a large piece or cut it apart for two pieces. (I usually prefer khổng lồ cut it apart for two pieces.)

After tempering, butterflying, & tenderizing your chicken, take its temperature again. You will find the temperature is now about 60-65° F, much closer to room temperature.

Please note: It will take longer to lớn temper chicken in the winter (with a cold kitchen) than it will in the summer (with a warmer kitchen).

Step 2: Tenderize Chicken


Pounding the chicken breaks down tough meat fibers, which tenderizes và softens the meat. The chicken remains juicy, cooking time shortens, và the chicken cooks evenly.

You will need a meat mallet (tenderizer) or rolling sạc pin (not as efficient).

Use a zip vị trí cao nhất bag or parchment paper to keep the chicken juices from flying all over the kitchen.

How to lớn Tenderize Chicken Breast

Place chicken breasts in a single layer in the center of a zip vị trí cao nhất bag. Press out the air & zip the bag closed. There should be plenty of space for the chicken to lớn expand as you pound it. If the chicken piece is too large, cut it in half & tenderize each piece separately.

If you prefer khổng lồ use parchment paper, place one piece of paper on the cutting board first. Then place the chicken on the parchment paper và finally cover the chicken with a second sheet of parchment paper.

Pound the chicken with the meat mallet. Use soft taps so you don’t tear the chicken. Start in the center at the thickest part of the breast and work toward the edges. The chicken will spread và thin out.Continue khổng lồ pound the chicken breast until the whole breast is the same width, about ½ khổng lồ ¼ inches thick.

Step 3: Season Chicken

Salt both sides of the chicken breast before placing it in the hot pan. You may also want khổng lồ salt it a final time just before serving it as well. Although a variety of herbs & spices can season chicken, salt is the key lớn flavor.

It is hard to 3d for flavor if you fail lớn salt the chicken before you cook it. I prefer a simple recipe with only Kosher salt. Try it the first time with salt only.

Then next time, in addition khổng lồ salt, try seasoning with homemade Montreal steak seasoning, đen pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, or fresh herbs.

How to lớn Season Chicken Breast

Pat the moisture off the chicken breast with a paper towel.Salt both sides of the chicken. The easiest way to vày this is khổng lồ pinch some kosher salt with your fingers. Holding the salt 6 to 8 inches above the chicken, sprinkle it evenly over the breast.After the chicken is cooked, it has rested (see resting info below), và you are ready to lớn serve it, lightly sprinkle salt on it again lớn taste.

Step 4: Preheat Pan

Preheat a grill pan or a skillet over medium-high heat. The only way a tempered chicken breast will sear is if it is placed in a preheated pan.

When chicken sears, a chemical reaction, called the Maillard reaction occurs. This reaction causes meat lớn brown và form a crust, which in turn increases savoriness & depth of flavor.

But searing can only happen when the pan is hot before adding the meat. Maillard reactions require a high-heat cooking method. So heat up that grill pan.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a large skillet or brush the chicken breast with butter. The hot pan và the fat will help prevent the meat from sticking khổng lồ the pan.

Depending on the form size of your pan, địa chỉ cửa hàng one or two pieces of chicken. Place chicken breasts in a single layer in the pan.

Keep one inch between each chicken breast. This prevents the meat from steaming & helps it size a savory crust.

After placing the chicken in the pan, vì chưng not cảm ứng it for 3 minutes. Just let it sear.

When you flip the first side over, it will come up easily from the pan if it has seared properly. If it is sticking, it hasn’t cooked long enough or your pan was not hot enough.

If you want more flavoring than salt alone, now is the time to địa chỉ cửa hàng the seasoning. Sprinkle with đen pepper, garlic powder, or fresh herbs.

A chú ý on the best pans for cooking chicken. A grill pan is my favorite pan lớn cook chicken on the stove because it leaves grill marks on the cooked chicken.

However, a cast iron pan or non stick skillets are great too. Use what you have.

Step 5: Don’t Overcook Chicken

Overcooking chicken has always been my biggest challenge. Concerned with food safety, I overcompensate by cooking it too long. The result is dry rubbery chicken breasts.

Wonder what temperature lớn cook chicken safely to? I did too, so I looked it up.

The Food & Drug Administration recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165° F. Any salmonella present in the chicken will not survive when chicken is held at 165° F for about 10 seconds.

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However, chicken breast cooked to 165° F can be dry và lacking flavor. So what can be done? Can you make safe chicken full of flavor? Absolutely!

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service provides guidelines for safely cooking meat to a lower temperature (to retain moisture and flavor).

The length of time the chicken remains at a particular temperature is the technique that balances flavor with safety.

Cooking chicken to a lower temperature & holding it at that low temperature for an appropriate length of time safely cooks the chicken.

Time + Temperature = Safely Cooked Chicken

If you are interested, kiểm tra out the time-temperature chart for safely cooking chicken issued by the Food Safety và Inspection Service.

For example, cooking chicken khổng lồ 160° F and holding it at that temperature for 17 seconds safely cooks the chicken.

Holding the chicken at 155° F for 55 seconds will give you the same result.

The key here is that every part of the chicken (especially the thickest part of the breast) must remain at the desired temperature for the correct length of time. This is why pounding the chicken breast until it is all the same thickness is so important.

Chefs at vị trí cao nhất notch restaurants NEVER grill their chicken until it reaches 165° F. They know that if they do the chicken will be overcooked and dry. So ask them. I dare you lớn find me one upscale restaurant that grills their chicken to lớn 165° F.

Follow the advice of the experts.

Remember, Time + Temperature = Safely Cooked Chicken.

I have found the best way to get flavorful chicken is lớn cook it to & internal temperature of 155° F & then hold it there for 55 seconds.

Pull the chicken off the heat when it reaches 155° F and let it rest (see next step) at that temperature for 55 seconds and you will never make overcooked chicken again.

But remember, take the temperature at the thickest part of the chicken breast.

So how do you know what your chicken’s temperature is? Unfortunately, you cannot guess the temperature of meat by appearance. You must use a meat thermometer. It is an investment that is well worth the price.

My favorite thermometer is the instant read Thermopen. But there are several meat thermometers on the market.

Wonder how long khổng lồ cook chicken breast on the stove đứng đầu to achieve the right internal temperature? The answer depends on three factors.

Whether the pan is preheatedTemperature of the chicken when it goes into the panThickness of the chicken breast

IF the pan is preheated & the chicken is tempered (to room temperature) and the meat is ¼ inches thick, the cook time is 3 to 4 minutes per side. Cook 3 lớn 4 minutes on one side và then flip it over and cook it 3 khổng lồ 4 minutes on the other side. Total time is 6 khổng lồ 8 minutes.

Next, pull out your thermometer and check the temperature of the chicken.

No matter what a recipe says, use your judgment và thermometer to lớn determine when the chicken has finished cooking.

Step 6: Rest Chicken

After the chicken has finished cooking, rest the chicken before you cut or serve it.

When you rest the chicken, the natural juices redistribute in the chicken, resulting in more flavor.

Resting also allows the chicken khổng lồ finish cooking with residual heat. This is sometimes referred khổng lồ as carryover cooking.

How khổng lồ Rest Chicken

After the chicken has cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Let the chicken remain in the hot pan, to lớn keep the desired temperature for the right amount of time. I lượt thích to keep my chicken 155° F for 55 seconds.Next, remove the chicken from the hot pan so it does not continue lớn cook.Rest the chicken on a cutting board for about 5 minutes to let muscle fibers relax và juices redistribute. During this time the chicken will cool down about 5° F.

According to lớn The Food Lab by Lopez-Alt, chicken should rest until it is 5° cooler than its fully cooked temperature. This allows the muscle fibers khổng lồ relax và the chicken juice khổng lồ thicken. At this point the chicken won’t lose juice anymore.

It is now ready to cut and serve.

Step 7: Cut the Chicken Against the Grain

Do you know how to lớn cut chicken breast? Always cut against the grain lớn get especially tender chicken breasts. What does this mean?

Chicken is made up of long muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are what is referred to as the grain. You can see the grain on a piece of chicken just like you can see the grain in a piece of wood.

Muscle fiber is tough. Chicken cut in the direction of the grain keeps tough muscle fibers whole. You are eating those tough pieces of meat.

So even if you have followed all my steps lớn cook chicken breast perfectly, you can still wind up with tough meat if you vì not cut it correctly.

To get a tender mouthful with every bite, cut the chicken against the grain. When you cut against the grain, you get short muscle fibers. This translates khổng lồ tender meat. Yum!

The way you cut your chicken is just as important as how you cook the chicken.

How to Cook Chicken Breast on the Stove When You Have Several Pieces

After you have cooked your first pan of chicken on the stove, you may still have another batch to lớn cook. Clean the chicken scraps out of the pan before you showroom more chicken. Otherwise, the scraps could scorch, affecting the current batch of chicken in the pan.

After you clean the scraps out, heat the pan again so you get a nice sear. Coat the pan with a small amount of oil or butter, if desired.

Keep the scraps if you plan on making a pan sauce. Just add it back khổng lồ the cooking liquid when making the sauce.

How lớn Serve Cooked Chicken

Lightly seasoned chicken breast is a blank slate for a variety of recipes. After cutting the chicken breast, serve it on vị trí cao nhất of a Cobb salad, in green chili enchiladas, salsa verde chicken chili, chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce, or a taco chicken salad.

For other ideas, check out 15 best chicken recipes to lớn make for dinner.

How lớn Store Chicken Breast

If you have leftover chicken, store it correctly so you can safely eat the leftovers.

How khổng lồ Store Cooked Chicken Breast in the Refrigerator

Cool the chicken close khổng lồ room temperature (between 65-68° F). This shouldn’t take long after removing the chicken from the heat.

The US Food Safety trang web teaches khổng lồ refrigerate perishable food within two hours. In my opinion, two hours is a long time for food to lớn be out — especially meat.

So just cool the chicken down, so it isn’t piping hot. Or finish your meal and then put it away.

Place the chicken in an airtight container.Store the chicken in the refrigerator for 2 khổng lồ 3 days. This is how long you can keep cooked chicken breast in the refrigerator without fear of spoiling.

How to lớn Store Cooked Chicken Breast in the Freezer

Cool the chicken close to room temperature (between 65-68° F). This shouldn’t take long after removing the chicken from the heat.Place the chicken in a single layer in a freezer container or a freezer zip đứng top bag. Store up to 6 months. For the best taste, I recommend eating it within 3 months.

How khổng lồ Reheat Cooked Chicken Breast

If the cooked chicken has been in the freezer, place it in the refrigerator to lớn thaw overnight.

Reheat refrigerated chicken low & slow. Cooked chicken breast tends khổng lồ dry out, so địa chỉ cửa hàng moisture to lớn compensate.

Place a small amount of chicken broth or water (a couple of tablespoons) in the grill pan or large skillet. The amount you địa chỉ cửa hàng depends on the amount of chicken you will be reheating. địa chỉ the chicken.Reheat on medium heat for 10 lớn 15 minutes.Flip the chicken over and continue heating until the meat is hot.

You can also microwave the chicken lớn reheat.

Place the chicken in a shallow bowl and địa chỉ cửa hàng ½ tablespoon of chicken broth or water. Cover the dish with a wet paper towel.Microwave for trăng tròn second intervals.Turn the chicken and microwave for another đôi mươi seconds.Check và repeat until the chicken is hot.

Chicken can be used in unlimited recipes. Learning how to lớn cook chicken breast on the stove to lớn perfection is one of the best cooking skills you can master. Then you can have as many dinner parties as you want with long lost friends.

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