How to Cook a Chicken Breast

In just 5 easy steps, learn how to cook a chicken breast perfectly every time. They will always come out juicy, tender, and well-seasoned!!

Perfectly cooking a chicken breast is something anyone can do, and everyone should know! Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, Chicken Caprese Pasta Salad, and Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Noodles are just a few recipes that you can use these chicken breasts in.

A seasoned and cooked chicken breast cut into slices

A Skill everyone needs to know! 

I know, this recipe seems so basic. That’s because it is!

Almost a year ago I hopped on Facebook Live and did a short tutorial for this exact recipe. It’s one that we get asked about a lot, so I’m finally dedicating an entire post to it and sharing it with the world. ?

This is how we cook incredibly juicy, tender and flavorful chicken breasts. They come out perfect EVERY time. You can serve them as is or slice them up and use them in just about anything. If you’re looking for the best way to cook chicken breasts, this is it!

Perfectly cooked chicken breasts resting on a pan

5 easy steps

You’ve probably noticed by now that we eat a lot of chicken. I’m always posting recipes that involve seasoned and cooked chicken breasts. This is the tried and true method we use every time.

Over the years I experimented with several ways to cook them (temperatures, foil, brine, marinade etc.) and here’s the perfect 5-step process I’ve developed:

  1. Tenderize
  2. Season
  3. Sear
  4. Bake
  5. Rest
Before and after photo of chicken breasts being seasoned

Step #1: Tenderize

One of the things I’ve found incredibly helpful is tenderizing the chicken breasts with a cake tester or toothpick. About 15 pricks is all you need. It sounds strange, but I promise it works!

Step #2: Season

I always use the same five ingredients: coarse kosher sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Depending on what I’m going to use the chicken for, I’ll switch up the sixth ingredient- the herbs. I usually stick with Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning.

Mix up your blend of seasonings and spices in a small prep bowl so everything gets evenly distributed when you sprinkle it over top. The amount given below is enough for 1 to 1 ½ pounds of chicken (about 3-4 breasts). They should be seasoned liberally for maximum flavor.

You can make a large batch of this spice blend ahead of time and keep it in a sealed container at room temperature to use for future recipes.

Chicken breast seasoning in a small glass bowl

Step #3: Sear

Here’s the deal. I think searing is absolutely necessary when serving chicken breasts as a protein on the side of a dish. However, if you’re using the chicken as an ingredient incorporated in a dish, it’s not super necessary.

Like searing any meat, it helps develop more complex flavors, gives it that nice crust, and seals in the juices.

Take a large non-stick skillet and set it over medium heat. Add a tablespoon or so of oil (avocado is my favorite because it has a high smoke point and the chicken will finish in the oven at a high temperature), when it begins to ripple you know it’s ready. Place the chicken into the skillet and cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes.

Four perfectly Cooked Chicken Breasts on a silpat mat on a sheet pan | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Step #4: Bake

Transfer the chicken to a parchment or baking mat lined baking sheet. Make sure it has rims or sides. Place in the oven at 450 degrees for about 18-22 minutes.

The baking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts. I always use am instant read thermometer to check the temp around the 18 minute mark. It should read 160 degrees when it’s ready to come out.

Using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of a chicken breast

Step #5: Rest

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, rest your meat. I think that’s a big mistake most people unknowingly make. Cover it with foil or another baking sheet and let it sit for 5 minutes before you cut into it.

This will allow the chicken to come up to temperature and for the proteins to ‘set’ which means the juices go back into the chicken instead of surfacing and either pooling on the cutting board or evaporating.

Slice the chicken against the grain (yes, it has grain just like beef and pork), then serve it immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

This all-purpose recipe is one you need to have in your back pocket. It will come in handy ALL of the time!

Cooked chicken breasts cut into slices

Storage Tips

STORE sliced or whole chicken breasts in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.

FREEZE cooked chicken breasts for up to 6 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then reheat in the microwave or in the oven until warmed through. Or if it is going in a cold recipe, just let it thaw overnight and slice it cold!

Poking a fork into a slice of chicken

For more chicken to recipes try:


How to Perfectly Cook a Chicken Breast | lifemadesimplebakes.com

How to Cook a Chicken Breast

In just 5 easy steps, learn how to cook a chicken breast perfectly every time. They will always come out juicy, tender, and well-seasoned!!
5 from 8 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Servings: 4 chicken breasts
Calories: 365kcal
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Ingredients

  • 1 – 1 ½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 ½ tsp. coarse kosher sea salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¾ tsp. paprika
  • tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning*
  • 1 tbsp. oil - avocado, grapeseed, canola

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, set aside.
  • Tenderize the chicken breasts by poking 10-15 holes into each chicken breast using a cake tester or a toothpick.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, cayenne, and herbs. Sprinkle over each side of the chicken breasts.
  • Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, when glistening add the chicken and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes or until a nice golden brown crust forms.
  • Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for 18-22 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken breast reaches 160 degrees.
  • Remove from the oven and cover with foil or another baking sheet flipped upside down. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before transferring to a cutting board.
  • Slice against the grain of the chicken, serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 61g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 181mg | Sodium: 1047mg | Potassium: 1096mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 608IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    The most tender chicken I have ever cooked. My husband loved it. I used a toothpick to poke holes in the chicken. Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    I made the perfectly cooked chicken breast this evening and it was the best chicken I’ve ever made! Thank you for this recipe and your tips. I used grapeseed oil, Herbes de Provence, less salt (and Himalayan, not coarse), and otherwise prepared the chicken breast just as you described. It was easy, tender, juicy, and delicious! Thanks again!

  3. 5 stars
    This really is the perfectly cooked chicken breast. Thank you for the great tips. It was so tender and juicy!

  4. 5 stars
    This is the 3rd time I’ve followed this recipe and it’s AMAZING. I have always had a problem with chicken breasts and I am so happy I found your recipe. Thank you SOOO much! Following WW and these breasts are zero points – I am thrilled.

  5. 5 stars
    This is the best chicken breast recipe I have ever found, with great tips for making it tender. Love it! Thank you for sharing your recipe and expertise!