Let's make some juicy oven-baked chicken breasts that go with everything!
Oven-baked chicken breasts are one of my favorite quick and easy dinner meals. They're full of healthy lean protein, simple to make, and super versatile, too.
Whether you simply season with salt & pepper to use your oven-baked chicken breasts in any dish (like cilantro corn pasta salad), or dress them up with fresh lemon & herbs like the photos here to serve solo with potatoes, chicken breasts baked in the oven are a must in any recipe repertoire.
But there are a few tricks to making sure that boneless, skinless chicken breasts don't dry out in the oven.
Here are my simple, never-fail steps to get perfect juicy, flavorful baked chicken breasts every time!
How to Make Oven-Baked Chicken Breasts
Once you master this easy technique, you’ll be able to quickly cook up chicken to add to your salads or eat as a main dish any night of the week.
Here are the essentials for the best chicken breast recipe:
- Choosing: Use fresh, high-quality chicken breasts. Organic or air-chilled chicken tends to be the best texture once cooked.
- Seasoning: Prep your chicken breasts with a small drizzle or spray of healthy fat (extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or ghee) and salt & pepper at a minimum. My go-to for fat is a spray or drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
- Don't be afraid of the fat! Fat adds flavor and raises the surface temperature of the chicken in the oven, which allows it to roast properly. The salt and pepper will flavor the chicken as it bakes, so always add it before putting it in the oven.
- Size & Temperature: For juicy chicken breasts, cook them at high heat like 425°F. BUT, and this is extra important, cut large breasts in half to make sure the outside doesn't overcook and dry out. This higher temp and smaller pieces when baking helps to avoid dry chicken. If a single breast is large than ½ pound, then cut in half width-wise for 2 thick smaller pieces, or butterfly open for two thinner large pieces.
- Pan: I generally roast chicken on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for easy clean-up, but any oven-safe pan or dish will work. Use whatever you have.
- Doneness: Don't undercook (or overcook). Use a meat thermometer to tell you when your chicken breasts have reached the optimal 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Overcooking can turn a juicy baked chicken breast into a dry or crispy disaster. Chicken is best cooked to temperature, not time. Always cook chicken to a 165°F internal temperature.
- Resting: Let chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing for the juiciest results. Resting the meat prevents the juices from running out.
How to Pick Chicken Breasts
When choosing chicken, I prefer using organic, air-chilled chicken breasts whenever possible. Here’s why:
- Organic chickens are fed a better diet, so they taste better.
- Organic chickens are also free of antibiotics and added hormones.
- Air-chilling means the chicken breasts aren't processed with water, diluting their flavor and making the skin soggy.
The other aspect to consider when picking your chicken breasts is cooking time. The larger the chicken breast, the longer the cooking time will be to get a juicy chicken. An 8- to 10-ounce chicken breast may need 30 minutes to cook, while a 5-ounce one might only need 18 minutes.
Tip: If your boneless chicken breasts are large, you can slice them lengthwise with your knife blade parallel to the cutting board to get two thinner chicken cutlets.
Boneless, Skinless or Skin-On, Bone-In?
I am a fan of both types of chicken: boneless, skinless and skin-on, bone-in. With this recipe, you can use either type for your juicy oven-baked chicken breasts.
In general, bone-in meat is more flavorful (thanks to the fat from the skin), but it also takes longer to cook. In some cases, 20-30 minutes longer.
On the other hand, boneless skinless chicken breasts cook up faster but have no barrier to retain moisture, which is why you need to spray or drizzle them with oil.
The chicken recipe in the printable recipe card below is for boneless, skinless chicken breasts baked in the oven.
Baked Chicken Breast Recipe
Basic Seasoning: To make baked chicken that can go with just about anything, you'll want to pat each chicken breast dry with paper towels then season each side with salt & pepper before putting it in the oven. The amount you need depends on the size of the chicken breast, aim for a light sprinkle of salt on all sides (¼ to ½ teaspoon) and a few spins of freshly ground black pepper on each side. Then, spray or drizzle each seasoned side with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Additions: If eating your baked chicken breasts as a main dish, you can add a few sliced & seeded lemons and garlic cloves to the baking dish to add a little more flavor and moisture. Simple garlic lemon chicken breasts are great with a side of potatoes.
Spices: From there, you can also like to use taco seasoning, Cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning, or anything that sounds good to you. Paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, thyme, and/or rosemary also make wonderful additions to season your chicken recipe.
You can serve these flavorful chicken breasts with a healthy side dish like some air-fried veggies for a low-carb dinner that’s packed with flavor.
How Do I Know When My Chicken Breasts are Cooked?
Chicken should be cooked to temperature, not time.
Cook chicken to 165°F, which generally takes anywhere from 15-22 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts and your oven temperature.
Knowing when your chicken is cooked enough (and not too much) can be a bit tricky, especially since cooking time recommendations are only estimates. The best way to ensure that your chicken is cooked enough is to use an instant-read thermometer or meat thermometer.
What temperature should I cook my chicken breast to? Tender chicken breasts need to be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 165° F at the thickest part.
How do I cook chicken breast without drying it out? You can cook chicken breast without drying it by using high heat until the inside reaches 165°F. This helps to cook the lean chicken breast meat before the inside goes dry.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you'll want to make sure all the juices that come from the chicken run clear, not pink. This is true for chicken thighs as well.
A Few More Recipe Tips:
- Start with Room Temperature Chicken: Allowing your chicken breasts to sit out for about 15 minutes before baking will ensure that they cook more evenly.
- Trim Your Chicken Breasts: If the tenders are still attached to the breasts, make sure to remove them before baking. If you're using large boneless chicken breasts (over 5 ounces), you can also slice them lengthwise with your knife blade parallel to the cutting board to get two thinner chicken cutlets.
Storing Cooked Chicken: Cooked oven-baked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can throw last night’s leftovers into a small bowl of chicken salad or shred them for an easy addition to soup.
Other Ways to Cook Chicken Breasts:
Chicken is a delish source of lean protein, also full of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and vitamin A. With lower cholesterol than many other types of meat, a chicken dinner can be a simple option that the whole family can enjoy.Print
Here's my simple, never-fail steps to get perfect juicy & flavorful oven-baked chicken breasts every time.
- 1 pound organic air-chilled chicken breasts (2-3 chicken breasts)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or olive oil spray
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or Real Salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: fresh herbs, spices, lemon slices, fresh garlic cloves
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Prep the chicken breasts by removing the tenders if they are still attached to the breasts. If you're using larger boneless, skinless chicken breasts (over 6-8 ounces), you can also butterfly then cut with your knife blade parallel to the cutting board to get two thinner chicken cutlets. Or, if desired, cut large breasts in half width-wise make two smaller thick pieces. Pat all sides of the chicken dry with a paper towel.
- Place chicken breasts in a large baking dish and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Drizzle or spray both sides with olive oil.
- If you like, add lemon slices, fresh garlic cloves, or other herbs to the dish for extra flavor.
- Bake until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F, about 20-25 minutes. (Note that the cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of the chicken breasts. Smaller breasts will take 15-18 minutes.)
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or clean plate.
- Loosely tent with aluminum foil if you want to keep it warm and let the chicken rest for at least 5-10 minutes. This keeps the juices from running out.
- Store any leftover cooked chicken breasts in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
Remember, cook chicken to temperature, not time. Always cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F. This generally takes 20-25 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer, cook until the center is opaque and the juices run clear.
- Calories: 261 kcal per serving
Keywords: oven-baked chicken, baked chicken, chicken recipe