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This baked chicken breast recipe is super easy and results in a healthy, delicious dinner protein that pairs beautifully with just about any side you can think of!
Chicken is one of the most versatile proteins around – it can be seasoned or marinated in a variety of ways, pairs wonderfully with just about anything, and is super easy to cook up. The key to *good* (read: flavorful and juicy) chicken, though, is in *how* you cook it! When it comes to chicken breast, it’s super easy to go from juicy to dried-out in a matter of minutes, but we have a few tricks in our hat to help with that (and a fail-proof cooking method to boot!).
How do you bake chicken breast without drying it out?
This is the BIG question, right? We’ve all had dried-out chicken breast, and because of that, probably want to avoid ever having that experience again. Here are our best tips for keeping your chicken breast moist and juicy:
- Marinate or dry brine beforehand. This is KEY! Marinating/dry brining locks in flavor and moisture, ensuring a juicy, delicious finished product. You can use one of our 5 easy chicken marinades, or dry brine by simply salting your chicken, then refrigerating it at least an hour ahead of cooking it.
- Bake at high heat. Baking chicken breast at a high heat helps lock in moisture and creates a nice crust on the outside of the chicken. Baking at lower temperatures can easily lead to overcooked, dried out chicken.
- Use a thermometer. Another HUGE one! The best way to know if you’re chicken is done is by using a meat thermometer. This takes all of the guessing out of cooking your chicken and ensures a perfectly-done chicken breast! We love this in-oven thermometer that will beep as soon as your chicken reaches 165 F.
- Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes. If you cut into your chicken right away, all of the juices will run right out of it, and you’ll be left with a much drier chicken breast! Allow your chicken to rest so that the juices reabsorb into the meat!
Baked Chicken Ingredients
For a really basic baked chicken breast, you’ll just need a few ingredients! If you’d like to season or marinate your chicken further, be sure to add those ingredients to your list! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chicken Breast – of course, right? You’ll start with 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry. If your chicken breast is much thicker in one part than the other, I recommend pounding it to even thickness.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – in order to crisp up the outside of your chicken breast just a tad, you’ll also need 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil, and to season your chicken breast, you’ll need…
- Seasoning – a ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt and a ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper.
How to Season Chicken Breast
While basic (salt + pepper) seasoned chicken breast can be used for a TON of different meals, sometimes it’s nice to change things up and add a bit more seasoning to the chicken itself! Here are our favorite ways to season chicken breast:
- Use one of our 5 marinades. If you’re looking to marinate your chicken, we have 5 REALLY tasty chicken marinades (lemon dijon, teriyaki, buffalo, BBQ, and taco) that you can find here.
- Keep it simple with salt and pepper. Feel free to keep things simple and just use the basic salt + pepper combo! This is perfect if you want to use leftovers throughout the week.
- Use a Greek yogurt marinade. Nothing tenderizes chicken breast quite like Greek yogurt! Our favorite Greek yogurt marinades can be found here.
- Use dry seasonings. Italian seasonings, Mexican seasonings (like chili powder and cumin), curry powder, etc. will add a really great punch of flavor to your chicken!
- Toss it in a sauce or dressing. Tossing your chicken in buffalo sauce, Greek dressing, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, etc. is a really EASY way to add flavor to your chicken.
How to Make Oven Baked Chicken Breast
Now that you’ve seasoned your chicken, it’s time to get to cooking! This method could not be any easier! Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Marinate Your Chicken (optional!) – marinate or dry brine your chicken (optional) for one hour up to overnight.
- Prep – preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Coat with EVOO + Bake – coat the chicken breasts with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper if you didn’t marinate or dry brine them. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes, or until the chicken registers 165°F on a thermometer at the thickest part of the breast, the juices run clear, and the chicken just begins to brown.
- Let it Rest, Serve, and Enjoy – let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting, then serve and enjoy!
Should I bake my chicken breast covered or uncovered?
We prefer baking chicken breasts uncovered so that the olive oil or marinade can really crisp the outside of the chicken! If you’re looking for a softer chicken breast, feel free to cover your baking dish.
How long do you cook chicken breast for?
We’ve found that 18 minutes does the trick! Before pulling your chicken out, though, you’ll want to use a meat thermometer to check to make sure that the thickest part of the chicken registers 165°F.
What is the best temperature to bake chicken at?
We find that a higher temperature ensures a crispy outside + juicy inside, so we always bake chicken breast at 450°F.
At what temperature are chicken breasts done?
You’ll know that your chicken breasts are ready to be safely enjoyed when the thickest part of the chicken breast reads 165°F!
What to do With Leftover Chicken Breast
THE SKY IS THE LIMIT, Y’ALL! Leftover chicken breast can be used to make so many things! A few of our favorites include:
- Greek Chicken Salad Lunch Bowls
- BBQ Chicken Tacos
- Thai Chopped Chicken Salad
- Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Harvest Quinoa Bowls with Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
- Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans
- Gluten-Free Chicken and Dumplings
- Hoisin Chicken Bowls
- Sonoma Chicken Stuffed Butternut Squash
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Coat the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes, or until the chicken registers 165 F on a thermometer at the thickest part of the breast and the juices run clear and the chicken just begins to brown.
- Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.