Find out the secret for how to bake chicken breasts perfectly every time.
If you’ve ever been frustrated with dry, bland chicken breasts, this one is for you.
I’ve done a series of experiments to find out exactly how to make boneless skinless chicken breasts that are juicy and delicious. Follow these well-tested instructions and you’ll be amazed at how much better your chicken will be.
We’ll be baking the chicken breasts for this method, because it’s the simplest way to cook them. Note that a lot of the things I’ve found out though, like the minimum brining time, will apply to any way you’d like to cook your chicken breasts. So if you want to grill them or air fry them, the info below will help with that too.
What Kind Of Chicken Breasts Should I Use?
The recipe below calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts. If you want instructions for baked bone-in chicken breasts, you can find that over here.
Plus, if the chicken breasts are larger than 6 ounces, you should cut them in half to get even cooking without drying out.
If the chicken breasts are on the bigger size, I like to cut them on the diagonal so that each half looks like a small chicken breast with its somewhat triangular shape. Here’s a video showing how to cut chicken breasts in half on the diagonal:
Do I Need To Brine Chicken Breasts?
Yes! You can read all about my experiments with brining chicken breasts here, but I’ll give you the main points here.
Brining chicken breasts, even for a short, has a big effect. It’s definitely worth doing and doesn’t have to be time-consuming.
With just 15 minutes in a cold water brine, the taste of the chicken breast improved. If you have time for 30-60 minutes of brining, you’ll notice that the texture and juiciness increases as well, so that’s what I aim for. Also avoid brining breasts for over two hours. In my experience, the chicken gets too salty and a weird texture at that point.
My Brine Recipe
- 4 tablespoons of Morton’s kosher salt
- 4 cups of cold tap water
If you have a different kind of salt, you’ll want to have a look at my my full brine recipe, because you’ll use a different amount depending on the size of the salt crystals.
Try adding a tablespoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of paprika to the brine mixture for added flavor. Just mix it up really well before adding the chicken.
If you are brining for over 40 minutes, you’ll need to put the chicken and brine in the fridge.
How To Bake Chicken Breasts
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry.
Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and add some olive oil. Toss the chicken around in the oil with tongs until chicken breasts are well-coated. Rearrange the chicken breasts in the baking dish so that they are in a single layer and not overlapping.
How Should I Season Chicken Breasts?
The salt brine adds a lot of flavor to the chicken breasts. But you can always add more! If desired, right before baking, sprinkle the chicken with your favorite seasoning blend or herbs and spices.
The chicken has already been brined in salt, so you shouldn’t add salt or use a seasoning blend that contains salt.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer placed into the center of the thickest part of one of the chicken breasts registers an internal temperature of 160°F. Remove the dish from the oven and let that stand for about five minutes before serving.
Don’t skip the resting step. This allows the juices inside to settle down and soak in, so that they don’t come rushing out when you cut into the chicken.
Serve with your favorite side dishes and enjoy!Print
- 4 Tbsp. Morton’s kosher salt
- 4 cups cold tap water
- 4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- In a large bowl or zipper bag, stir together the salt and water until salt is dissolved. Add the chicken breasts.
- Leave the chicken breasts in the salt water for 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Remove chicken from salt water and discard salt water. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
- Put chicken breasts onto a baking sheet. Add oil and turn chicken to coat evenly.
- Place baking sheet into oven and bake until chicken is cooked through to 160°F as read on an instant-read thermometer, 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
*If the chicken breasts are larger than 6 oz. you should cut them in half as instructed in the article above. Otherwise, the chicken breasts take too long to cook through, which results in the outsides being too dry from long exposure to heat.