There are several ways to cook chicken breasts. However, when you are just beginning to cook or you lack the experience of cooking chicken, you want to make sure that you don’t skip any steps in a recipe and always use a digital thermometer.
Once you gain more experience, then you can put your personal touch to cooking.
Before we go into the different ways of cooking, we will go over the tips to make sure that your chicken comes out juicy, full of flavor and not dried out or overcooked.
General Cooking Tips
Make sure that you do the following to the chicken before you begin seasoning or cooking it:
Allow it to air dry in the fridge, out of the package for a few hours before cooking. Take the chicken out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 mins.
Don’t skip on the seasonings, even if it’s just a little salt and pepper. You can also use garlic salt, paprika, lemon pepper or any other seasonings that you desire. Just don’t use too much and dip your chicken breast in a little olive oil before rubbing the seasonings on.
This will help make sure that the seasonings stick to the chicken. You can season the chicken while waiting for the oven or stove to preheat.
Use a digital thermometer when checking the temperature of the chicken breast. The ideal internal temperature for cooking chicken breast is 165 degrees. Pull it from the stove or oven before reaching 165 degrees F.
If you pull it at 165 degrees F and allow it to rest, the temperature will continue to rise while resting (a process known as carry-over cooking) causing it to be dried out and overcooked.
Here you will find the most common ways to cook chicken breasts as a novice. The above tips should be used when using any of these methods of cooking.
Chicken Breast Cooking Methods
Pan-frying chicken breast is a preferred way to cook by many. You use a large skillet that you preheat on medium-high for a couple of minutes.
Then add a couple of teaspoons of oil and let the oil heat up and place the chicken breast in the pan without touching it for 3-5 minutes allowing a crust to form.
Flip the chicken and do the same thing to the other side. Move to a clean plate and let the chicken rest for 3-5 minutes.
While the pan is preheating, season the chicken before placing it into the pan. Do not cut the chicken until after it has been resting for at least 3-5 minutes.
When cooking chicken breast, what you cook it in is very important. The deeper the pot the more moisture is retained while cooking which will prevent the chicken from drying out. It’s recommended to use a pan that is 3 inches deep when cooking.
The following types of pans are best at retaining heat:
- Cast iron
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
The prep work with breaded chicken takes a little longer but it’s definitely worth it. While the oven is preheating, you coat the chicken with bread crumbs.
To bread the chicken, crack a couple of eggs in a bowl, season the breadcrumbs, eggs, and chicken.
Dip chicken into the egg allowing the excess liquid to drip off the egg. Then, dip the egg-covered chicken into the breadcrumbs, ensuring that it is completely coated.
Place each slice of chicken on the baking sheet and put it in the oven after it is done preheating. Cook for 10-12 minutes and then flip the breast over and cook an additional 10-12 minutes or until the temperature reads 150-155 degrees F.
Roasted Chicken (Baked Chicken)
First and foremost, you always want to make sure that you preheat the oven. This method of cooking chicken is one of the easiest methods to master and you can get creative as long as you follow these simple tips.
When baking chicken most recipes will call for the oven setting to be preheated to 375-400 degrees. The average cooking time at these settings would be 18-22 minutes depending on how thick your chicken breasts are.
You can line a baking sheet with foil or use an ovenproof greased baking dish. I like using nonstick cooking spray to coat the dish evenly. Place the chicken in the dish so that they are not touching and place in the oven.
For added flavor, adds some sprigs of fresh herbs and some fresh cut lemon slices to the tops of each breast. This adds a lot of flavor but no calories or fat!
After about 10 mins of cooking, you should check the temperature with your thermometer, by sticking it into the middle of the chicken breast. Once it reaches 155 degrees, pull the chicken out, leave the thermometer in and move to a clean plate. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes and you can enjoy your meal.
If you want an easy way to cook chicken breast and forget about it, the crockpot is the route to go. Before placing the chicken breasts in the crockpot you are going to sear each side of the breast for 2-3 minutes in a skillet with a little oil over medium-high heat.
You are just trying to get the outside to brown a little and let the inside remain raw. You then place the chicken in the crockpot along with broth, seasoning, garlic, onions and any other spices you desire.
Put it in the slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours and you have melt in your mouth chicken.
The only difference with sauteing chicken breasts and pan-frying the chicken breasts is that you cut the breasts into cubes or slices before frying it. Heat a skillet with a little oil or cooking spray and then add the chicken.
You want it to sit in the pan for a couple of minutes and stir around and let it cook for an additional 5 minutes. Or until the chicken is lightly browned.
The most important things to remember with cooking chicken breasts are:
- Make sure that you let the chicken sit at room temperature before cooking.
- Thoroughly dry the chicken before cooking.
- Make sure to preheat the pan before placing the chicken in it.
- Always let the chicken rest after cooking and before slicing
- Always use a thermometer when cooking chicken breasts.
There are many other ways to cook chicken breasts. The ones discussed were the most common with novice cooks.
As you, continue to gain more experience in the kitchen, you can experiment with the different ways of cooking a chicken breast.
For example, read How to Grill Chicken to take your cooking skills outdoors.