Chicken breast should always be juicy, never dry, or overcooked. Today I’m showing you a very simple way to make juicy chicken breast, with optimal results every time. There are three key tricks: tenderize, marinate, and controlled cooking time. When you use all three of these methods, you will have succulent, moist chicken every time, and you can apply these strategies to other cuts of meat as well.
Chicken breasts are uneven: always thicker on one side and thinner on the other. This is where tenderizing comes in: using a heavy, flat object to pound the meat to an equal thickness. You can use a meat mallet (aka tenderizer), the underside of a heavy-bottom pan (like a cast-iron), or even a rolling pin as a tenderizer. Wrap the chicken in parchment paper (or plastic wrap) to prevent any chicken juices from cross-contaminating your kitchen, and then lightly pound the chicken with your tenderizer tool of choice, until the breast is a consistent thickness throughout. The thinner the chicken breast, the quicker it will cook and less risk of overcooking.
Marinating is the process of soaking chicken in seasoning and liquid to help break down the proteins and infuse the meat with flavor. An overnight, or 12 hour, marination time in the fridge will give you best results, but even if you can only spare 1 hour of marination, it will still make a difference in the tenderness of the chicken. Marinades can be as simple as oil, salt, and pepper, or more complex, like plain yogurt, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, and a bit of wine (similar to my Juiciest 6 Ingredient Chicken recipe).
Finally, don’t overcook that chicken breast! Three ways to prevent overcooking: keep a close eye on the chicken as it cooks to watch for burning, set a timer, and use a meat thermometer to check when the interior temp has reached 165F, signaling the chicken is fully cooked.
Juicy Chicken Breast
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- salt to taste
- lemon pepper seasoning (or your favorite seasoning) to taste
- avocado oil for cooking
- If using refrigerated chicken, let it come to room temp for 30 minutes.
- Place the chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using a meat mallet (aka tenderizer), gently pound the meat, making sure you flatten it to an even thickness throughout. Remove the wrap or paper and season the chicken on both sides with salt and seasoning of choice. Add a bit of oil and massage it really well into the chicken.
- Heat up a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat and add a touch of oil. Place the seasoned chicken in the pan and make sure it sizzles. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy.