How to bake chicken breast so that it comes out nice and juicy? Bake it for a short time at a high temperature. It's the best way to avoid drying it out.
The secret to making juicy chicken breast in the oven? Bake for a short time at a high temperature.
Baking the chicken for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F will yield dry meat. But baking it for just 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees will result in delightfully juicy chicken breast, every time.
The best cooking method for chicken breast
Chicken breast can be dry and flavorless unless you cook it according to the method outlined below. Or unless you marinate and grill chicken breast.
I used to dread having it for dinner. It always turned out so dry! But I still made this easy dish, because it's so convenient, filling and affordable. I tried all kinds of marinades and seasonings. However, nothing helped!
As it turns out, I simply didn't know how to bake chicken breast. Who would have thought that the secret was simply in how long to bake it, and in the oven's temperature?
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty chicken recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Chicken breasts: I use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. I haven't experimented with bone-in pieces.
Olive oil spray: It's such a wonderful oil and I love its flavor and cook with it often. But if you prefer using an oil with a higher smoke point, which is perfectly understandable, you can use avocado oil instead.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: I like to use garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and paprika. Make sure the spices you use are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish. Speaking from experience...
How long to bake chicken breast?
As a general rule, you should bake medium, 8 oz pieces for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees F. For smaller, 6 oz breasts, 15 minutes should be enough.
Obviously, you should check in your own kitchen and using your own oven to make sure this works for you. The best way to make sure the chicken is done is to use an instant-read thermometer (aim for 165 degrees F).
You can also make a small slit in the middle of one of them and peek, but that could cause some of the yummy juices to seep out, so it's not the best method.
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
1. Spray the chicken pieces with olive oil and sprinkle them with the seasonings.
2. Bake them uncovered until their internal temperature reaches 165°F. This should take about 20 minutes in a 450°F oven.
3. Loosely cover them with foil and let them rest before slicing and serving.
A note about larger chicken pieces
The size of the chicken pieces does make a difference in how long you should cook them. These days, many chicken breasts sold in the supermarket are HUGE - I've seen ones weighing 12 oz or even 13 oz!
If yours are this big, you will need to bake them for longer, probably around 30 minutes. So check after 20 minutes. And if you do need to bake them for longer, either flip them or loosely cover with foil, to prevent the tops (and especially the spices) from burning in the hot oven.
What temperature to bake chicken breast?
I belong to the camp that believes that a high temperature is best. You basically have two choices - either bake the chicken for about half an hour in a 350°F oven. Or bake it for about 20 minutes in a 450°F oven.
I've tried both methods, and in my experience, the latter is much better at producing truly juicy chicken. The only caveat is that we're talking about a very high oven temperature here.
So if the chicken pieces are very large and need to stay longer in the oven to become fully cooked, you'll need to take care not to burn them. As mentioned above, you can do this by loosely covering them with foil after the first 20 minutes of baking.
Allow the chicken to rest before you slice it
It's really important to allow the baked chicken breasts to rest after they're done. If you slice into them right away, all the yummy juices will escape.
Another good reason to let it rest is that the chicken will not taste as good when very hot, and this is also true for many dishes. Food often doesn't taste good when very hot or very cold.
What side dishes to serve with baked chicken breasts?
Anything, really! They are incredibly versatile. But because I bake them in a 450°F oven, I like to serve them with a side dish that I can cook in the same oven, such as:
- Buffalo cauliflower
- Carrot chips
- Roasted peppers
- Roasted broccoli stalks
- Eggplant chips
- Zucchini pizza bites
What to do with leftovers?
This baked chicken breast is well seasoned and excellent on its own. When I make it fresh, I simply have one for my lunch or dinner, often with a side of a simple salad.
But I do like to make several of them at a time because leftovers are so incredibly versatile. You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.
So what to do with the leftovers? I use them in lots of tasty recipes! Here are a few tasty examples:
The possibilities are truly endless. So get creative and have fun in the kitchen! That's the entire point of cooking. 🙂
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How to Bake Chicken Breast
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts 8 oz each
- Olive oil cooking spray
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking dish with foil.
- Generously spray both sides of each chicken breast with olive oil, and sprinkle them with the seasonings.
- Bake, uncovered, until the internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees F and juices run clear when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. The center of the chicken breasts should be white and opaque.
- Transfer the baked chicken breasts to a platter. Loosely cover with foil and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.