Three ways to cook chicken breasts
Chicken breast meat can be the most difficult piece of chicken to cook successfully. It usually comes without skin, and it is a lean cut of meat that can dry out easily. So, how do you get a golden brown outside with a moist and tender inside? Here's how to cook great chicken breast in the oven, on the stove, or poached in water.
Preparing your chicken breasts
Before cooking any chicken breasts, take them out of the fridge to come to room temperature before cooking. This should take approximately 20 minutes. Do not leave chicken at room temperature for any longer than 30 minutes.
Top tip: When seasoning your chicken, rubs made with dried spices and herbs are best as they are less likely to burn and they impart a lot of flavour.
How to bake chicken breasts
Cook chicken in the oven using the high and fast technique:
- Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Pat chicken breast with paper towel and brush with a little oil, roll in a dry rub or simply season with salt and pepper. Place onto lined baking tray in a single layer
- Cook for 15 minutes for a medium breast fillet, adjust time by 2-3 minutes for smaller or larger breasts.
- Place a meat thermometer in the centre of the chicken. When it reaches 60-63°C remove chicken and stand for 3-5 minutes. The internal temp will rise to 65-70°C
- If you don't have a thermometer, once the surface is golden and caramelised remove chicken from oven and stand for 3-5 minutes. The residual heat will continue to cook the chicken without drying out. After standing, serve immediately.
How to panfry chicken breasts
Cook chicken in a pan using this method:
- Start by pounding the chicken breast to an even thickness, around 1.5-2cm. To flatten the chicken breast, place between two pieces of cling wrap and gently pound with a mallet, rolling pin or heavy saucepan, starting from the centre outwards.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper or spice rub.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.
- Place chicken into pan and do NOT move for four minutes. The edges of the chicken breast will become opaque. Not moving the chicken is essential to produce a good golden crust.
- Turn chicken over and cook a further three minutes. When just cooked, the chicken will spring back when gently pressed.
- Place chicken onto a plate and stand for three to five minutes to complete cooking, then serve immediately.
How to poach chicken breasts
Cook chicken in water using this method:
- Choose a pan large enough to hold your chicken breasts in a single layer.
- Add aromatics such as lemon slices, fresh herbs, peppercorns, and garlic.
- Add chicken to pan and cover with cold water. Make sure that the chicken breast is fully submerged
- Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, immediately turn heat down to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. There should be no boiling or bubbling as this will toughen the meat.
- Remove from the pan and place thermometer in the centre of the breast. The internal temperature should reach 65°C, stand for three to five minutes or until internal temp of chicken reaches 70°C.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, remove from the pan and allow chicken to stand for 5 minutes. Push down on the chicken, if it springs back easily it is cooked.
These are the most simple ways to cook delicious chicken breast! For more complex chicken breast recipes, check out the videos and suggestions below.