How to bake chicken breast so that it comes out juicy? Cook it for a short time at a high temperature and it will emerge from the oven perfectly cooked!
Baking the chicken for a short time in a hot 450°F oven helps to seal in the juices, while prolonged cooking in a moderate 350°F oven tends to dry it out.
Chicken breast is so easy. I always have it on hand, and there are countless recipes where I can use it. But more often than not, I simply bake it in the oven. And when I do, I make sure not to dry it out. The secret? I cook it 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, every time.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty chicken breast 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 breasts in this recipe. I haven't experimented with bone-in.
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, 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.
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
Spray the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them with the seasonings.
Bake them uncovered until their internal temperature reaches 165°F. This should take about 20 minutes in a 450°F oven.
Loosely cover them with foil and let them rest before slicing and serving.
While you COULD cut a small slit in the thickest part of the chicken to make sure it's cooked through, the disadvantage of doing that is that juices will escape out and leave you with drier meat.
That's why the best method is to use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F.
Frequently asked questions
The secret is to cook it in high heat for a short time. Moderate heat and prolonged cooking time will dry it out.
Another tip is to allow the cooked chicken to rest before cutting it. If you slice into it right away, the juices will escape.
No, you shouldn't. You want it exposed to the dry heat of the oven. If you cover the chicken, it will steam in its own juices rather than bake. So you should leave it uncovered.
When it comes to chicken breast, you should bake it in a 450°F oven. High-heat baking for a relatively short time will help it stay moist and juicy and help prevent it from drying out.
You basically have two choices - either bake the chicken for 30 minutes 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 juicy chicken.
Bake it for a short time - 15-20 minutes. Medium, 8-oz pieces will need about 20 minutes in a 450°F oven. For smaller, 6-oz pieces, 15 minutes should be enough.
The best way to make sure the chicken is done is to use an instant-read thermometer. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F.
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 cook them for longer, probably around 30 minutes. So check after 20 minutes. And if you do need to cook them for longer, either flip them or loosely cover them with foil to prevent the tops from burning in the hot oven.
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a couple of ideas for you:
- Rather than olive oil, you can brush the chicken pieces with melted butter. It's really good!
- Experiment with the spices you use. Tasty options include smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, and dried thyme.
- Sprinkle the chicken with a small amount of dry-grated parmesan before putting it in the oven.
Recommended side dishes
Anything goes, really! This main dish is incredibly versatile. But because I cook it in a 450°F oven, I like to serve it with a side that I can cook in the same oven, such as:
- Buffalo cauliflower
- Carrot chips
- Roasted peppers
- Roasted broccoli stalks
- Eggplant chips
- Zucchini pizza bites
Storing and using leftovers
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. I like to make several at a time because leftovers are so incredibly versatile.
So what to do with the leftovers? I use them in lots of tasty recipes! Here are a few ideas:
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Juicy Baked 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 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 chicken to a platter. Loosely cover it with foil and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.