How to Bake Chicken Breasts
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Baking chicken breasts was my culinary Achilles’ heel for years. I could truss and roast a whole chicken with my eyes closed, and it would always come out perfect, but when it came to something as basic as making baked chicken breasts, I was at a loss.
The truth is, I didn’t used to like chicken breast meat. I avoided it like some people avoid cricket protein powder. I found baked chicken breast dry, stringy, and bland. So I opted for higher-fat thigh meat instead.
Then it became my job to work with our in-house nutritionists to create enticing, delicious recipes featuring boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
This also meant I had to figure out how to cook them in an appetizing way.
Even if you’re a total beginner in the kitchen, you can master how to bake chicken breast. And after you do, you’ll be able to master hundreds of healthy recipes, from salads to soups to sandwiches to dinner any night of the week in less than a half hour.
How to Bake Chicken Breasts
There are lots of ways to make great baked chicken breasts, but this simple, no-fuss method is a great place to start.
1. Purchase boneless, evenly sized chicken breasts
Sometimes chicken from the butcher’s counter may still have the tenders attached (that’s the thin strip of meat that runs along the underside of the breast, making one side much thicker than the other).
Remove these with a knife and save them for another meal.
2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
While the oven is heating up, pat each chicken breast dry with a paper towel. Don’t wash your chicken breasts in the sink — you can easily spread germs to dishes, utensils, and other surfaces of your kitchen.
And make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw poultry, as well as any cutting boards, knives, etc., that it came in contact with.
3. Place chicken breast in an ovenproof baking dish
Drizzle each chicken breast with about a teaspoon of olive oil. You can also squeeze a lemon or lime over the meat to give it a little extra moisture as it cooks.
4. Season with salt and pepper and any herbs and spices
Chicken breast meat has a reputation for being flavorless, but it tastes wonderful when properly seasoned. We love adding a 1/2 tsp. of dried rosemary or thyme. You could even try some paprika, or a spice rub!
5. Put the baking dish in the oven and cook for about 15–20 minutes
It doesn’t take long to bake chicken breasts, but you’ll find that thicker pieces of chicken will require more cooking time. Check the meat after 15 minutes. Pierce the meat with a toothpick or the tip of a knife.
If the juices that run out of it are clear, it’s done. If the juice runs pinkish or red, pop the chicken back into the oven for a few more minutes.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking raw poultry to the internal temperature of 165 degrees F. If you want to be doubly sure your chicken is cooked correctly, you can use a food thermometer. Try this one from Amazon!
6. Remove chicken breast from the baking dish and let it rest
By doing this for a few minutes before you serve the chicken, it allows the juices to settle back into the meat.
(Remember: Make sure you don’t use the same cutting board or dish you used for the raw chicken breast!)
If you plan to cook more than two chicken breasts, just use a larger baking dish, and leave plenty of space around each piece of meat. You do not need to increase the cooking time.
Baked Chicken Breast
For perfect baked chicken breasts, follow this recipe to learn how to bake chicken in the oven that's succulent and delicious.
- 4 oz. raw chicken breast, boneless, skinless
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- sea salt or Himalayan salt, optional, to taste
- black pepper, optional, to taste
- 1 tsp. rosemary optional
- 1 tsp. thyme optional
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Place chicken in ovenproof baking dish.
Drizzle chicken breast with oil. Season with salt and pepper, rosemary and thyme, if desired.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and juices run clear.
- Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breast.
- You can also season chicken with lemon or lime juice and dry herbs like rosemary and thyme.
- The Nutrition Facts box below provides estimated nutritional information for this recipe.