Looking for the perfect way to cook chicken breast that’s both tender and juicy? Whether you’re whipping up a simple weeknight dinner or preparing a meal for entertaining guests, these delicious and easy-to-follow tips will help guide you to succulent success!

grilled chicken breast

How to Make Tender and Juicy Chicken Breasts

Chicken breast is a staple in many households and for good reason. Right now, chicken breast is often one of the cheaper yet still healthy meat options popping up in sales ads.

It’s a lean source of protein that can be seasoned and cooked in a variety of ways to suit any taste buds. One of the biggest challenges of cooking chicken breast is keeping it juicy and tender.

But fear not! With these cooking methods, you’ll be able to achieve a juicy and tender chicken breast every time.

Why is chicken breast often dry?

Chicken breasts often come out dry because they are overcooked, causing the moisture to evaporate from the chicken. Due to the lack of fat in your chicken, there is not much to help trap the moisture.

While bone-in chicken breast has fewer issues than boneless, both tend to be dryer than dark meat. The good news is that this is easy to fix.

Pan-frying

Pan-frying is one of the simplest and quickest ways to cook chicken breast. This is great for fried chicken, breaded cutlets, and simply searing in a pan with a little hot oil. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings of your choice. This step is crucial as it helps to enhance the flavor of the chicken. If you want a fried breaded chicken, you can easily do this when pan-frying.
  • Add a little bit of oil to a non-stick pan and heat it up over medium heat. You can use any type of oil, but I recommend using a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil.
  • Once the pan is hot, add your chicken breast to the pan. Cook for about 5 – 6 minutes on one side or until it’s golden brown. Flip the chicken breast over and cook for another 5 – 6 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F.
  • Once the chicken breast is fully cooked, remove it from the pan and let it rest for a few minutes. This step is important as it allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring that your chicken is juicy and tender.

Baking

Baking is another simple and hassle-free way to cook chicken breast. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  • Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings of your choice. Baking is the perfect time for stuffing your chicken breast or coating it for a breaded chicken.
  • Place the seasoned chicken breast on a baking sheet and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F.
  • Once the chicken breast is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Grilling

Grilling is a great way to add some smoky flavor to your chicken breast. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings of your choice. If using barbecue sauce, do so after your chicken is almost cooked to avoid scorching the sauce. You can use oil or a marinade in the meantime.
  • Heat up the grill over medium-high heat.
  • Place the seasoned chicken breast on the grill and cook for 5 – 6 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F.
  • Once the chicken breast is fully cooked, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Poaching

Poaching is a gentle cooking method that produces tender and juicy chicken breasts. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings of your choice.
  • In a large saucepan, bring the poaching liquid (water, chicken broth, or white wine) to a boil.
  • Once the liquid is boiling, add the seasoned chicken breast to the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F.
  • Once the chicken breast is fully cooked, remove it from the poaching liquid and let it cool for a few minutes. This step is important as it allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring that your chicken is juicy and tender.

Use your slow cooker

  • Place your chicken, liquid, spices, and vegetables into your slow cooker. Be sure to use plenty of liquid so it doesn’t evaporate and dry your chicken out.
  • Set it on high and let it cook for 4 – 8 hours, depending on how much time you have.
  • Turn off and let rest to soak up some of the fluid and distribute it evenly before serving.

Tips for tender juicy chicken every time

Regardless of which cooking method you choose, there are a few tips that can help you achieve a juicy and tender chicken breast every time.

Pound the chicken breast to an even thickness. When you purchase a chicken breast, it tends to have a curved shape. This is completely normal but can cause the cooking time to be off as the center of the thickest part will take much longer to cook than the small end spice. Pounding it until even will help ensure that the chicken cooks evenly and prevents it from drying out.

Don’t overcook the chicken. Overcooking chicken breast can result in dry and tough meat. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure that it reaches 165 °F. A meat thermometer is the best way to be sure the chicken is fully cooked without risking overcooking it.

Let the chicken rest. Allowing the chicken to rest for a few minutes after cooking allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring that your chicken is juicy and tender.

Don’t be afraid of marinades. When you think of marinades, you may not be thinking about chicken, but the truth is a good marinade can make a very juicy and flavorful chicken quite easily. Marinated chicken can be good with most cooking methods, from pan frying to baking and even grilling for a perfectly delectable chicken breast.

Many people shy away from cooking chicken breasts because they worry that the lower fat content of breast meat can dry out very easily. The truth is if you do not know how to cook your chicken the right way, this is perfectly possible, but with the right tricks, you can make the perfect chicken every time.

Some of our favorite chicken recipes:

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