How to Cook Chicken Breast: 3 Ways

How to Cook Chicken Breast to Get That Tender and Juicy Bird

Is there anything less fun than a dry and chewy chicken breast?

It breaks my heart every time I see or eat an overcooked chicken breast. And I feel like it happens all the time.

But, we love still love them. Americans eat almost 92 pounds of chicken each year. And that number is rising.

The thing is, you don’t have to live in a world without juiciness. You just need to learn the best way to cook chicken breasts.

And you have a few options: cooking chicken breast in a pan, on the grill, or in the oven to name a few.

We’re going to focus on those cooking methods in this post so you can learn exactly how to cook chicken breast perfectly ever time. You don’t want dry chicken breasts, I don’t want dry chicken breasts, so let’s learn how to cook them.

Thou shall never eat a dry chicken breast again.

Chicken breast cooked three ways
Pan (front), Oven (middle), Grilled (back)

How to Cook Chicken Breast: The Methods

Click on the method below to jump to that section:

Are Chicken Breasts Healthy?

Chicken is already leaner than most other meats. And chicken breast is the leanest part of the chicken. So, you’re getting lots of lean protein and just a small amount of fat.

In a 3 oz serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast, there is 26 gram protein and just 2.7 grams of fat. Your body uses this protein to build muscle and strong bones. Plus, it helps you feel full and control blood sugar levels.

As with other animal products, chicken breast is a good source of vitamin B`12. This promotes brain development and helps your nervous system function.

So, as long as you aren’t frying your chicken breasts in oil, you’re getting a nutritious food.

Raw chicken breast

How to Cook Chicken Breast

How to Cook Chicken Breast in the Oven

Cooking chicken breast in the oven may be the most fool proof method. You can line up the breasts on a baking sheet, toss them in the oven, and basically forget about them for a little while.

Best for: Cooking a large batch while doing something else.

The Method

  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Rub breasts all over with olive oil and season generously with salt.
  • Place on a baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes depending on size of breast
Oven baked chicken breast
Oven baked

How to Cook Chicken Breast On the Grill

It’s the middle of summer and the sun is shining. That means grilling is your option for cooking chicken breasts.

Best for: Your summer cookout and getting those fancy char marks on your bird.

The Method

  • Prepare a grill for medium-low heat.
  • Rub breasts all over with olive oil and season generously with salt.
  • Lightly oil grill grates. Place chicken on grill and close lid.
  • Grill chicken 5 minutes. Flip, close the lid and continue cooking for about 5 minutes longer until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165F. Or the juices run clear.
Grilled chicken breast
Grilled

How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan

Looking for a quicker way for cooking chicken breast for a last minute meal? Then cooking in a pan on your stove-top may be your best option. The key here is cooking it low and slow. I like my cast-iron skillet for this, but you can use just about any type of pan.

Best for: Making a single serving or two for a last minute meal.

The Method

  • Heat a pan or skillet over medium heat. When hot, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Season chicken breasts generously with salt and add to pan.
  • Cook for about 1 minute. Then flip breasts, reduce heat to medium low, and cover with lid.
  • Start checking chicken for doneness after about 10 minutes.
Pan seared chicken breast
Cooked in a pan

Modifications

  • Butterflied: To reduce cooking time even further, slice the chicken in half lengthwise (aka “butterflied”). This will decrease the thickness of the breast and allow it to cook quicker. Cook on each side over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes.
  • Pounded: Place the breast in between plastic wrap and give it a few pounds with a rolling pin. This can be use with or without the butterflied technique above. Combining these two will give you a super quick method that gives you a nice crispy skin. Cook on each side over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes (1-2 minutes if also butterflied).
  • Stove-top Sear to Oven: I love searing meat and/or fish then transferring it to the oven to finish cooking through. This will give you a nice crust. Preheat an oven to 425 F. Heat an oven-safe pan over medium-high and add about 1 tablespoon of oil once hot. Add seasoned breasts and cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Then flip and transfer to oven for about 10 minutes until done.

What is the Best Way to Cook Chicken Breast?

Here is what I’ll say about this…

There are a countless number of ways to cook chicken breast that I didn’t outline here. Braise, poach, sous vide, etc. Here at walktoeat, we believe that a healthy diet must be super simple in order to be sustainable. And the 3 methods outlined in this post are best on the effort versus results scale.

So, all of these methods will give you great results.

If you’re looking for a simple way to make a batch of chicken, oven roasting is probably your best bet. To satisfy your char fix or for a cookout, grilling is best. If you’re just making 1 or 2 breasts for a quick meal, cook your chicken in a pan.

Pan seared chicken breast
Cooked in a pan
Oven baked chicken breast
Oven baked
Grilled chicken
Grilled

Chicken Breast Cooking Tips

Take Off the Chill

Let chicken breasts sit out at room temperature before cooking for at least 20-30 minutes. This will help take off the chill and allow the breasts to cook more evenly. You want them to be about room temperature, so it may take longer this for larger breasts.

If you start cooking directly from the fridge, the middle of the breast will be much colder than the outsides of the breast. So, you’ll need to cook the breast longer to get it fully done. Potentially scorching and drying out the outsides of the breast.

How to Tell If Chicken Breast is Done

According to the FDA, chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 F. Although, many home and pro chefs will cook their breasts closer to 160F. Then let it rest for 5 minutes for the temperature to increase. So, sticking a thermometer into the chicken to test its internal temperature is a foolproof way to determine if it is done.

But, if you don’t have a thermometer, check to see if the juices run clear. Pick the largest breast and make a small cut into it. If its juices are clear (as opposed to red or pink), the chicken is done. Also, use your eyeballs to make sure it’s no longer pink or red.

Let it Rest After Cooking

As mentioned above, let chicken breast rest for at least 5 minutes after cooking. This allows the chicken to continue cooking through and come up to temperature. And the juices will re-absorb into the meat instead of leaking out when cutting for max juiciness.

Chicken breast three ways
Pan (front), Oven (middle), Grilled (back)

More Chicken Recipes

How to cook chicken breast

How to Cook Chicken Breast 3 Different Ways

Nick @ walktoeat
Learn how to cook chicken breast to tender, juicy perfection every time. Use one of these three methods and never eat a dry, chewy chicken breast again!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 17 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2
Calories 252 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 chicken breast
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt

Instructions
 

How to Cook Chicken Breast in the Oven

  • Preheat oven to 425 F. Rub breasts all over with olive oil and season generously with salt. Place on a baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes depending on size of breast. When done, juices will run clear and the internal temperature of the breast will be 160-165 F. Let rest for 5 minutes.

How to Cook Chicken Breast on the Grill

  • Prepare a grill for medium-low heat. Rub breasts all over with olive oil and season generously with salt. Lightly oil grill grates. Place chicken on grill and close lid. Grill chicken 5 minutes. Flip breasts, close the lid and continue cooking for about 5 minutes longer until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160-165F and the juices run clear.

How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan

  • Heat a pan or skillet over medium heat. When hot, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season chicken breasts generously with salt and add to pan. Cook for about 1 minute. Then flip breasts, reduce heat to medium low, and cover with lid for 10 minutes. When done, juices will run clear and the internal temperature of the breast will be 160-165 F. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Video

Notes

Seasoning: Add 1/2 tsp of your favorite spices such as paprika, cumin, or a mix for each chicken breast for flavor. Spices work best for grilling and baking.
Modifications to Pan Method
  • Butterflied: To reduce cooking time even further, slice the chicken in half lengthwise (aka “butterflied”). This will decrease the thickness of the breast and allow it to cook quicker. Cook on each side over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes.
  • Pounded: Place the breast in between plastic wrap and give it a few pounds with a rolling pin. This can be use with or without the butterflied technique above. Combining these two will give you a super quick method that gives you a nice crispy skin. Cook on each side over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes (1-2 minutes if also butterflied).
  • Stove-top Sear to Oven: I love searing meat and/or fish then transferring it to the oven to finish cooking through. This will give you a nice crust. Preheat an oven to 425 F. Heat an oven-safe pan over medium-high and add about 1 tablespoon of oil once hot. Add seasoned breasts and cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Then flip and transfer to oven for about 10 minutes until done.

Nutrition

Serving: 3ozCalories: 252kcalProtein: 35.6gFat: 11.2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 332mgPotassium: 622mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg
Keyword how to cook chicken breast, how to cook chicken breast in a pan, how to cook chicken breast in oven, how to cook chicken breast on the grill
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Ready to For Juicier Chicken Breasts?

So, which method will you use next time you make chicken? I love a little crisp, so I typically stick to grilling or pan frying. But, oven baked chicken can’t be beat for meal prepping or feeding a crowd.

In any case, you can’t go wrong.

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