Baked Chicken Breast
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Fun story: yesterday upon arriving to work, I hastily took off my coat (because it’s abnormally hot inside my dungeon of an office) and flung it over one of the conference room chairs. Apparently I had put an egg in my coat pocket at some point (could have been the day before, could have been 4 days ago? There’s really no way of knowing) and said egg came flying out of the coat pocket and smashed all over the carpet. For hilarity of the story, I wish I could tell you that the conference room was full of people and I had to embarrassingly clean it up. However, it was actually empty and so no one was around to witness this fiasco.
If it seems weird to you that I had a random egg in my pocket, let me briefly explain. Remember those chickens that I have?? Yea, I usually go hang out with them for a bit as soon as I get home from work. I’m usually still wearing my work coat and I usually just put the eggs in my pocket for safe keeping while I clean up around the coop and run to get the mail. Sometimes (it’s happened more times than I’m willing to admit) I forget the eggs are in the pocket and find them days later. If I’m lucky, I find them before I leave the house or at least before walking into work. I wasn’t so lucky this time.
Is it at all weird that I’m telling you that story in the same post that I’m explaining how to properly cook chicken? The dynamics of being a daily chicken eater AND having pet chickens is very, very strange sometimes.
For entirely too much of my life, I cooked chicken all wrong. I almost always over-cooked it and thought that it would only taste good if it was either covered in loads of salt or loads of cheese (and
sometimes often both).
I’ve read a lot about how to bake chicken properly and in my opinion, there’s really only one thing you need to bake delicious and juicy chicken: a meat thermometer. THIS ONE is pretty close to the one that we have. They’re super cheap (you can get one for just ~$10), easy to use, and an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY if you want your meat cooked perfectly. Buying this little kitchen tool totally changed my life (is that too dramatic?)!
Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 degrees F. This fact totally changed the way I cooked chicken. Before I would just leave the chicken on the heat until I thought it was done and then I’d cut a piece open to see if all the pink was gone. For me, this resulted in a ton of way over cooked chicken that was dry and bleh.
SO, how do I cook simple and yet still juicy and delicious chicken breast??
I almost always bake my chicken. I go for a high temperature with a shorter cooking time because waiting 45 minutes is just unbearable for me. I check it a couple times throughout the baking process so that I can pull it out as soon as it reaches the right temperature. Sometimes I’ll take the chicken out when it’s at 160 degrees, cover it with foil, and let it sit for a few minutes which will allow it to reach 165 degrees on the counter.
I start by pouring about 2 tablespoons of oil into a baking pan. I then place the chicken in and turn it over a few times to make sure that it’s evenly coated in the oil. It helps if the chicken is all about the same size so that they cook evenly. If they’re drastically different sizes, you can pound the chicken a bit so that they’re all roughly the same thickness.
I then sprinkle it with some simple salt and pepper. Depending on what else I’m cooking, I’ll also add various spices or sauces to the chicken.
Then it goes in the oven to bake for about 18-25 minutes. Again, I’ll check around 19 minutes to see what the temperature is at and decide from there how much longer it needs.
Once done, I let the chicken sit for about 5 minutes before cutting into it at all. One of the things that I love about this simple recipe is that so much can easily be added to it. You could sprinkle a little bit of cheese on top, or a tablespoon of marinara or salsa. I do a lot of experimenting so that it doesn’t get boring.
**This post contains affiliate links for the meat thermometers which means that I’ll make a small portion of the sale (at no extra cost to you) if you buy one. Don’t worry, I’ll use the money on something good like a bottle of Bailey’s or yet another pair of yoga pants.Print
- 4 medium chicken breasts, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons of oil (any kind of oil will work here. I typically use olive oil)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- optional: herb of choice
- Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Pour the oil in a large baking tray. Place all 4 pieces of chicken breast into the tray and flip them over a few times so that they’re evenly coated in the oil.
- Sprinkle each chicken breast evenly with the salt and pepper (and any other spices or herbs that you’re using).
- Bake for 18 minutes. At the 18 minute mark, check the temperature of the chicken with a meat thermometer. You want the chicken to be at 165 degrees F. Continue to cook (if needed) checking every few minutes on the temperature.
- Once at 165 degrees F, take out of the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving or cutting.
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: American