Learning how to cook chicken breast in a way that is delicious, healthy, and juicy is easy, but sometimes you need some help. We've all been there in our cooking journeys--choosing to overcook chicken in lieu of food poisoning. If you struggle with cooking chicken in a way that your whole family will love, this comprehensive guide is for you.
In this post, you'll learn how to season chicken five different ways and cook chicken breast in the oven, in the air fryer, on the grill, and on the stove in a pan. I promise, your days of bland or guesstimated "doneness" are in the past.
How to Season Chicken Breast to make it taste good
There are plenty of different ways to season chicken breast to make it taste good. Bland chicken breast is no longer acceptable in 2021. Here are some of my favorite ways to marinate chicken breast:
- The Best Chicken Breast Seasoning - I call it the best because it is a fail-safe, versatile and easy chicken breast seasoning that works well with most meal preps. Even better, this is made with seasonings you can find in your pantry and it only needs 15 minutes to marinate.
- Lemon Dijon Chicken Marinade - This is a bright and herby chicken breast marinade that pairs well with pasta and salad. It is fancy enough for a party, but simple enough for a weeknight.
- Smoky Chipotle Marinade - This is my go-to for burrito bowls or taco nights. It is smoky and just a little spicy, and it comes together really quickly.
- Mojo Chicken Marinade - If you want to take Taco Tuesday up a notch, you need this mojo marinade. Using fresh herbs and citrus, this tastes like summer.
- Balsamic Honey Grilled Chicken Breast - This simple marinade is a sophisticated yet simple marinade that's great for salads, pasta, but stands up on its own for a delicious weeknight dinner.
Tips for Cooking Chicken Breast
I get it, cooking chicken breast can be daunting for some. You don't want to waste your money on overcooked, dry chicken, but you don't want to give your family food poisoning. Here are my favorite tips for chicken beginners:
- Slice the chicken breast in half through its center. Place your hand on top of the breast, and run your knife through the breast to slice through the middle. Be careful when cutting! This makes the chicken thinner and easier to cook without drying it out.
- Allow your chicken to sit out of the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes before cooking. This allows for a more even cooking.
- Allow your meat to rest before slicing it for serving. Let the chicken hang out for about five minutes. You can tent some aluminum foil over it to keep it warm. This will ensure the juices won’t run everywhere once you slice it.
- Buy a meat thermometer you can leave in the chicken and read the temperature outside of the oven without opening the door. All chicken and other poultry should come to 165° F, but most chefs will take food out a few degrees shy of that because the temperature will continue to rise once removed from the oven. Consuming raw or undercooked meat is dangerous!
How to Cook Chicken Breast in the Oven
Cooked chicken breast in the oven is by far the simplest way of cooking chicken, especially in bulk batches. For this method, you just need to grease your pan with your favorite cooking spray and bake chicken at 400°F for about 20-25 minutes--no flipping needed. I use a giant sheet pan that can usually fit an entire family-sized pack of chicken all on one pan--usually about 12-14 servings after slicing them in half.
It is important to note that you need to preheat the oven (I'm looking at you, Mom). Chicken can vary in size, but I usually slice chicken down the middle which makes it about 1/2-3/4 inch. The thickness will affect the timing.
How to Cook Chicken Breast in the Air Fryer
I cook my chicken breast at 375°F for about 10 minutes in my air fryer. Keep in mind all air fryers are slightly different, so you might need to adjust based on your machine. Once again, chicken can vary in size, but I usually slice chicken down the middle which makes it about 1/2-3/4 inch. The thickness will affect the timing.
While I look how chicken comes out in the air fryer, most air fryers are built to accommodate 4-5 chicken breasts at most. While it is great for a dinner, it is not ideal for a big family or meal prep.
How to Pan Fry Chicken Breast
Pan frying chicken is an easy way to cook chicken quickly, but it is best in a cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan. I don't like using a nonstick pan because you don't get the crispy seared outside quite like these other pans.
You need to heat your pan ahead of time and it's best to use oil (you can get away with spray, but still...). Heat your pan on medium heat until you see the oil shimmering. If cooking halved chicken breasts, you'll need about 4-5 minutes per side.
How to Grill Chicken Breast
Grilling chicken breast is my favorite way to cook chicken--especially in the warmer weather months. It is easy to cook in bulk, it is quick, and there is minimal clean up. Allow your grill to heat on medium-high heat and preheat to about 400°F. Cook the halved chicken breasts for about 5-7 minutes on each side.
Grilling Chicken Breast Tips: Meat will be ready to flip when it releases easily from your grill grate. Usually chicken is ready to flip when the chicken is mostly white around the edges and you can see the thinner edges getting a crispy golden color.
Healthy Recipes Using Cooked Chicken
Now that you know how to cook chicken breast, the next step is doing something with it. Sure, you can have chicken and vegetables, salads, or sandwiches, but some of my favorite thigns to do is bulk prep chicken and use it for other recipes throughout the week. It is an easy way to plan meals so you're doing minimal cooking while eating different dinners each night of the week.