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 seal the juices, while prolonged cooking in a moderate 350°F oven can dry it out.
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°F will yield dry meat. But baking it for just 15-20 minutes at 450°F will result in delightfully juicy chicken.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this 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.
- Olive oil spray: It's an excellent oil. I love its flavor and cook with it often. But if you prefer an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil.
- To season: Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and paprika.
- Instead of olive oil, you can brush the chicken pieces with melted butter. It's delicious!
- You can brush olive oil on the chicken with a pastry brush instead of using an olive oil spray.
- Experiment with the spices you use. Tasty options that I tried and liked include smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, and dried thyme. You can add ¼ teaspoon of each.
- Sometimes I sprinkle the chicken with a small amount of dry-grated parmesan before putting it in the oven.
Baked Chicken Breast Instructions
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
- Mix the spices in a small bowl. (Photos 1,2).
- Spray or brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them with the seasonings. (Photos 3-5).
- Bake the chicken breasts 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. (Photo 6).
The size of the chicken will affect the cooking time
Many chicken breasts sold in the supermarket are huge. I've seen ones weighing 12 or even 13 ounces! If yours are this big, you will need to cook them for around 30 minutes.
So check after 20 minutes. And if you do need to cook them for longer, loosely cover them with foil to prevent the tops from burning in the hot oven.
The photo below shows two chicken breasts I got at the grocery store. One weighs 8 ounces, and the other weighs 13 ounces. Just looking at the picture, you can tell that they would need different cooking times:
How to check for doneness
While you could cut a small slit in the thickest part of the chicken to ensure it's cooked through, the disadvantage is that juices will escape and leave you with drier meat.
That's why the best method to check for doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F.
The secret is to cook it in high heat for a relatively 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, 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.
The only exception is if you need to cook it for longer than 20 minutes. In that case, if you notice the top is browning too much, you can protect it by loosely covering it in foil.
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 prevent it from drying out.
You have two choices: 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.
Medium, 8-ounce pieces will need about 20 minutes in a 450°F oven. Large, 12-ounce pieces will need around 30 minutes.
The best way to ensure the chicken is done is to use an instant-read thermometer. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F.
Anything goes with baked chicken breast. It's incredibly versatile. But because I cook it in a 450°F oven, I like to serve it with a side dish that I can cook in the same oven, such as:
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to four days. You can also freeze them for up to three months.
I like making several at a time because the leftovers are incredibly versatile. I keep them in a glass food storage container:
Using the Leftovers
More Chicken Breast Recipes
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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°F. Line a rimmed baking dish with foil.
- Generously spray both sides of each chicken breast with olive oil.
- Sprinkle the chicken with kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and paprika.
- Bake the chicken, uncovered, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and juices run clear when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. The center of the chicken pieces 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.
- If your chicken breasts are much larger than 8 oz, you will need to bake them for around 30 minutes. So check after 20 minutes and if you do need to bake them for longer, loosely cover them with foil to prevent the tops from burning.
- The best way to ensure the chicken is done is to use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F.
- You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.