Photo: Oksan Shurfych//Shutterstock
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 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness, so you can get dinner on the table in a flash.
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: Prep the chicken
To start, brine your chicken in a mixture of water and a few tablespoons of salt for about 20-30 minutes. This will boost the natural flavor and moisture of the chicken breasts and will leave you with a super tender piece of meat. If you’re still not convinced, check out everything you need to know about brining here.
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. In need of some inspiration? Here are our favorite baked chicken recipes.
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
Transfer the chicken breasts to a greased baking dish or sheet pan and pop it into a 425° oven. Allow the chicken to bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°.
Pro tip: The temperature of the chicken is important, under 165° puts you at risk of foodborne illnesses and over 165° will be dry and tough, be sure to use a reliable thermometer, like ThermoWork’s Thermapen.
Step 4: Rest
Once the chicken gets up to temperature, remove the breasts from the oven and let them rest for about 5 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! Serve with these tender and juicy chicken breasts with your favorite side dishes or on top of a fresh salad and dinner is ready to be served.