Oven-Cooked Chicken Breast: No Fowl PlayCoach Monica shares how she cooks chicken breast for the most consistently juicy and delectable preparation of this healthy protein staple. There are countless ways to prepare chicken in the kitchen. Her culinary steps make this cut of chicken simply breast-taking.
Chicken Breast: No Fowl Play
By: Monica Rosenberg, RN and BLOC Staff Coach
Coach Monica graduated from nursing school Summa Cum Laude and received her RN license in 2019, beginning her career concurrently with the pandemic. She’s battle-ready to engage head-on with helping you conquer obstacles. Monica has always held the belief that “the best way through is together as a team” close to her chest, and that’s what you will be. Get Coaching from Monica.
There are countless ways to prepare chicken in the kitchen. A popular favorite in the fitness community is the classic chicken breast. I despised this part of the chicken when I was younger. It was usually dry and unpalatable, which is what I assume happens to any organism you nuke the hell out of it. That’s not the chicken’s fault! There are culinary steps you can take to make this cut of chicken simply breast-taking.
Don’t Wing It
The most consistently juicy and delectable way I have found to prepare chicken breast is in the oven. Grilling chicken breast is an easy way to dry it out because it takes longer to cook through than, say, chicken cutlets, and all the while that precious moisture is working its way out of the meat and evaporating. I have cooked chicken breast in a cast iron pan, and while it turned out just fine, I prepared one single breast. If I was meal-prepping a whole package of chicken, it would have been a more complicated experience, given the chicken in the center would be heated differently than the pieces on the sides of the pan. Let’s take the guesswork out of cooking and stick with the oven.
Best of the Breast Ingredients
Some items needed for our adventure:
A baking pan
Your vessel will impact your journey here, trust me. I have a rectangular, stainless steel pan that looks like it could stack a nice lasagna. Not too thick or too thin, as this will change the heating characteristics—and the walls should be high enough that the drippings won’t spill over and ruin your day.
- A light drizzle of oil
- Cracked Pepper
- Chipotle powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Adobo (this has salt, so I do not add extra salt)
- Cayenne pepper
Pro(tein) Tip: rub the spices in for maximum flavor
- Drizzle oil
- Season chicken
- Massage spices into chicken
If you like a different flavor profile, you can absolutely use a different variety of spices with the same overall process. I’ve made lemon chicken, balsamic chicken, buffalo chicken, and Cox BBQ sauce chicken. Remember: any food is only as boring as you doom it to be. If you find yourself getting tired of the same old dishes, change up your seasonings or use a different sauce.
Chick, Chick, Boom
Time to cook the chicken. Spray your pan and preheat the oven to 350°F. Place your chicken in the pan and evenly space them so everyone gets equal love. If they’re too close together, it can mess up the chicken’s cooking time.
If the chicken breasts are completely defrosted, they should take 35-40 minutes to complete. If your chicken breasts are still a bit frozen (or are gigantic), 45 minutes should be the ticket. If you have a meat thermometer, you can use it, but I haven’t needed to when baking because it’s such a predictable cooking method. Regardless, the internal temperature of poultry should reach 165°F. When I cooked my chicken in a cast iron pan, I definitely needed the thermometer. It took forever to cook, and I had to stand by the stove flipping the damn thing because it was thick. As much as I love devouring raw cookie dough, under-cooked chicken is a beast I dare not trifle with. Yuck.
Another pro(tein) tip: take advantage of the fact your oven is on, and make your side dishes (i.e. potatoes, veggies). This will consolidate your total cooking time.
Down with the Thickness
After your chicken is finished cooking, let it rest a few minutes on a cutting board before slicing. I recommend only slicing what you will use at one time. The uncut chicken will retain its juices more readily, allowing it to still be delicious for days to come. If you’d prefer to carve the whole package you can, but then I advise pouring the pan drippings over the chicken when you put it away to keep it at its most tender. You are now equipped with a lean protein perfect for salads, grain bowls, wraps/sandwiches, tacos, pasta dishes, quesadillas, or simply on your plate.