How to Cook Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts
With skinless, boneless chicken breasts on hand, you'll always have something quick and satisfying to eat for dinner. Whether grilled, boiled, or roasted, there's an easy chicken breast recipe for any occasion. Once you learn how to cook chicken breasts, make crowd-pleasing BBQ chicken breasts or roasted chicken breasts, or try stuffed chicken breasts if you're feeling creative.
Easy Chicken Breasts Cooking Tips
Boneless chicken breasts are a staple for any time-pressed cook's kitchen because they're quicker to cook than bone-in chicken breasts.
Chicken breasts are susceptible to drying out, so they're best cooked quickly using high heat. That means skillet-cooking, stir-frying, roasting, or grilling chicken breasts are the best routes. Skillet-cooking is particularly easy because you can make a sauce in the same pan.
How to Saute (Skillet-Cook) Chicken Breasts
When it comes to cooking boneless chicken breasts, the terms "saute," "pan-fry," and "skillet-cook" all refer to the same basic preparation: Cooking chicken breasts in a skillet in a small amount of fat (such as cooking oil, olive oil, or butter) or in a skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Select a heavy skillet that can accommodate the chicken breasts in one layer. If the skillet is too large, pan juices can burn; if the skillet is too small, the overcrowded chicken will steam instead of brown.
- If a chicken breast is significantly thicker in some parts than others, consider pounding it with a meat mallet to even it out.
- Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and ground black pepper to taste.
- If the skillet is not nonstick, lightly coat it with nonstick cooking spray or 2 to 3 teaspoons cooking oil.
- Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
- Place the chicken in the skillet. Do not add any liquid and do not cover the skillet.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear. This should take 8 to 12 minutes. As the chicken cooks, turn it occasionally so it browns evenly. If the poultry browns too quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Chicken breasts are done when the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear (170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Try not to overcook chicken breasts, as the meat can become stringy and dry.
How to Boil Chicken Breasts
Boiling, or poaching, chicken breasts is perfect when chicken is part of a larger recipe.
- In a large saucepan pour liquid and herbs, veggies, or citrus slices over the raw chicken breasts. Some popular choices are water, wine, broth, juice, or a combination.
- Over medium-high heat, bring liquid to boiling. Reduce heat and cover, simmering until the chicken is no longer pink or when the temperature reaches 170 degrees F.
- Whole chicken breasts will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Chicken breasts cut into pieces won't take quite as long to cook, while whole bone-in chicken breasts will take slightly longer.
How to Broil Chicken Breasts
- Brush your chicken with oil or seasoning, or try out a chicken breast marinade before broiling. Marinating prevents the chicken breasts from drying out. You can also remove the pan before the last few minutes of broiling, brush with a sauce, and continue cooking. For broiled BBQ chicken breasts, brush with barbecue sauce.
- Preheat the broiler, then insert the pan so the chicken breasts are 4 to 5 inches from the heat.
- Broil 4- to 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts 12 to 15 minutes, turning over about halfway through the cooking time and brushing with sauce or seasoning if desired.
- Remove chicken when it reaches 170 degrees F and is no longer pink.
How to Make Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- Place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Use the flat side of a meat mallet, and working from the thickest part of the breast outward, pound the chicken lightly until it's about 1/8 inch thick. That gives them more surface area, while making them thin and supple enough to roll around the filling.
- Remove the plastic wrap and season the chicken breasts as desired.
- Prepare the chicken filling and place 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of one flattened chicken piece. Popular fillings are cheese, veggies, and nuts. Fold in the bottom and sides of the breast and roll up, securing the breast with wooden toothpicks. Repeat with each chicken breast.
- For extra flavor and texture, consider coating the chicken rolls with a sauce or a Parmesan bread crumb coating.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place rolls, seam side down, in a shallow baking pan. Bake the chicken breasts, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Remove toothpicks before serving.