How to Bake Chicken Breasts Without Drying Them Out
Learn how to bake chicken breasts that are so juicy and tender, you'll want to make them every night of the week.
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When it comes to dinner, there’s nothing easier, or more versatile, than boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can grill them, slow cook them, pan-fry them and even cook them in a pressure cooker. But my go-to has always been baked chicken breasts.
Despite best efforts, sometimes baked chicken can come out dry, tough and unappetizing. Luckily, Taste of Home’s Test Kitchen has come up with a baking method that results in tender and juicy chicken breasts each and every time. Keep reading for the simple step-by-step instructions.
What temperature should I bake chicken breasts?
Our Test Kitchen has found that baking chicken at a higher temperature, 425°F, locks in the chicken’s moisture and gives you a really juicy chicken breast. As an added bonus, cooking at such a high temp means that the chicken only has to bake for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness, so you can get dinner on the table in a flash.
No matter what temperature you cook chicken breasts at, they should always be baked to an internal temperature of least 165°F.
How to Bake Chicken Breasts
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Step 1: Brine
To start, brine your chicken in a mixture of water and a few tablespoons of salt for about 20 to 30 minutes. This will boost the natural flavor and moisture of the chicken breasts and will leave you with a super tender piece of meat. This is the one step that will really ensure your chicken won’t be dry or tough.
If you’re still not convinced, check out everything you need to know about brining.
Step 2: Season the chicken
When your chicken is done brining, drain the brine and blot the chicken breasts completely dry with a paper towel. Then, brush with olive oil and sprinkle on the salt, pepper and any additional seasonings. These spice blends are a really easy way to amp up flavor.
Test Kitchen tip: If your chicken breasts are very thick on one end and not on the other, you’ll want to pound them with a meat mallet until the breast has an even thickness. This helps the chicken cook evenly. A small skillet or saucepan can also be used if you don’t have a meat mallet on hand.
Step 3: Bake the chicken breasts
Transfer the chicken breasts to a greased baking dish or sheet pan and pop it into a 425°F oven. Allow the chicken to bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Test Kitchen tip: The temperature of the chicken is important, under 165°F puts you at risk of foodborne illnesses and over 165°F will be dry and tough, be sure to use a reliable thermometer, like ThermoWork’s Thermapen.
Step 4: Rest the chicken breasts
Once the chicken gets up to temperature, remove the breasts from the oven and let them rest for about five minutes or so. This lets the juices redistribute in the chicken, locking in the moisture so it doesn’t spill out once it’s cut.
And that’s it! Dinner is ready to be served. Looking for more recipes? Learn how to make oven-fried chicken breast.
Tips on How to Bake Chicken Breasts
What do you serve with chicken breasts?
These baked chicken breasts are great with just about anything, but we think a salad, some potatoes or a veggie side dish would be especially great. Browse these other side dish recipes for even more ideas.
How do you store chicken breasts?
If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
You can also store cooked chicken breasts in the freezer. Simply wrap the breasts in foil and then place them in an airtight container or a freezer storage bag. Cooked chicken will last in the freezer for up to four months.
Once you master this technique, add some flair with some of our popular chicken breast ideas!