How to Cook Chicken Breasts

 People are often afraid of undercooking chicken breasts and other poultry, so they overcook them—and then poor chicken breasts get a bad rep! But they don't have to be dry and boring: You just need to know how to cook chicken breasts right. One of the easiest ways to cook chicken is in the oven: Not only is baking chicken a healthy way to cook the meat, it’s also super simple to customize—add whatever seasonings you like. Just follow this basic recipe and experiment with different flavors each time. You'll be set for all your weeknight dinners: Add the chicken to a salad or grain bowl, shred it up and toss it with pasta, or sandwich it in a quesadilla (one of Ree's favorites!). You can also create your own sheet pan dinner—cook the chicken breasts on a baking sheet with lots of veggies that'll cook in the yummy pan juices (try our Cajun Chicken Sheet-Pan Dinner and see what we mean!). Your whole meal bakes at the same time. Sure, there are tons of other ways to make chicken, but if you want to know how to cook chicken breasts with no mess and no fuss, this oven method is for you.

What temperature should I cook chicken breasts in the oven?

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cook best around 425˚. You want the oven to be hot enough to cook the chicken from the inside, while giving the edges a slightly golden crust. 

How long does it take to cook a chicken breast?

To bake chicken at 425˚, you’ll need about 25 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts. For an extra golden crust, you can also brown your chicken in an ovenproof skillet first and then finish baking it in the oven—this will take about the same amount of time (about 8 minutes in the skillet and 10 to 15 minutes in the oven). 

How do I keep my chicken juicy and moist?

Since chicken breasts are lean, you don’t want to overcook them or else they’ll be dry. And don’t be tempted to cut into the centers as the chicken cooks to check for doneness—you'll just release those precious juices. You should also let the chicken rest for a few minutes after cooking to evenly distribute the juices before serving.

Do I need any special equipment to cook a chicken breast?

Nope! For this simple oven method, all you need is a rimmed baking sheet. You should also have a meat thermometer: Insert it into the center of a breast to check for doneness (the USDA recommends 165˚ for poultry).

How can I flavor my chicken breasts?

Use whatever you like! Experiment with spices, dried or fresh herbs, garlic, a breadcrumb coating, or cheese. Chicken doesn't need a marinade, but you can use one if you like. Whatever you do, just don't forget to season your chicken with salt—it makes a big difference in flavor. 


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