Chicken Breast, particularly the boneless variety, is often the go-to protein for meals. Making chicken dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all possible because of the bird’s formidable versatility. While many have the prep down pat, beginner chefs may need a little direction in the kitchen. The best ways to cook chicken breast result in a delicious addition to any meal.
Interestingly, chicken wasn’t always considered the delicacy that it is today. In fact, a recent study shows that people in Europe revered chickens and didn’t eat them during the Iron Age. Their new study finds men were buried with cockerels when they died, while women were laid to rest with hens. The international team may be rewriting the history of the world’s most popular meat, finding the chicken’s legacy is much more complicated than previously believed.
If you are considering plant-based meat alternatives, another study reports that plant-based substitutes actually lack the nutritional quality of real meat. Their study found that meat substitutes contain proteins and nutrients which the human body can’t absorb — leaving customers with an iron deficiency. So you may want to think twice before dropping chicken from your menu.
With that in mind, StudyFinds compiled a list of the five best ways to cook chicken breast, most recommended across ten expert websites, for a healthy, protein-packed meal. As always, we’d like to see your own recommendations — as well as any great recipes you prefer — in the comments below!
The List: Best Ways to Cook Chicken Breast, According to Chefs
1. Baked or Roasted
Baking Chicken in the oven is a great entry-level method for cooking. “The options for how to bake chicken are endless: chicken parm, stuffed chicken breasts, crispy drumsticks…the list goes on,” says Taste of Home.
Delicious meals with chicken at the center-plate position can be common but need not be plain. “The perfectly juicy and beautifully browned baked chicken breast with the tiniest amount of prep work and just a handful of ingredients will surely make its way into your regular go-to recipes,” writes African Bites.
With access to an oven, preparing chicken can be a low-effort endeavor. “A hands-off method is always a good one, and this roasted chicken breast method is one to keep on hand. Try it with either boneless or bone-in chicken breasts, but remember that the skin on the chicken acts as a protective shield, locking in moisture and yielding lots of flavor. Add even more flavor by mixing ground spices with olive oil before brushing on the chicken, or simply roast with lemon slices and woody herbs, like thyme or rosemary,” according to Real Simple.
2. Slow Cooker
Slow cookers allow home cooks to make juicy shredded chicken with ease. “Chicken breasts are healthy and delicious, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and rely on the same old recipes you’ve always used,” writes All Recipes.
With creative use of a slow cooker, easy authentic international dishes are easy to prepare. Chicken breast, water, and a packaged seasoning blend can allow even the inexperienced cook the chance to make a great meal. “Put that slow-cooker to work! Almost any chicken recipe that needs a long simmer is a good fit for your slow-cooker, and butter chicken is no exception,” adds The Modern Proper.
When considering slow-cooker recipes, the sauce or cooking liquid are a major component. “Applesauce BBQ Chicken Combine this lightly sweet applesauce with savory BBQ sauce to create a flavor that’s to die for! The best part? You can leave most of the work to your slow cooker. The end result is soft and juicy chicken coated in a rich brown sauce. This dish is both sweet and peppery. It’s definitely a standout against other chicken breast recipes,” says Insanely Good Recipes.
The only difference between grilling (heat from below) and broiling (heat from above) is the position of the flame relative to the food. The enthusiasm for grilling chicken is evident in the writing from many of our sources. “Turn on the grill so it’s hot, hot, hot! Grilled chicken recipes make summer weeknight dinners easy peasy. If you love to grill, you have to learn how to grill chicken breasts the right way, so they never dry out,” says Taste of Home.
Something about the use of high heat flame adds to the richness and appeal of chicken’s flavor. “Juicy and filled with smoky deliciousness, these Grilled Chicken Breast Recipes take the flavor to a deeper level,” Feasting at home. The simple addition of seasonings or a marinade will elevate chicken breast from plain to delightful.
“Yogurt is ideal to use in a marinade for both its flavor and ability to tenderize meat. It tenderizes more slowly and gently than citrus juice or vinegar, so you can marinate the chicken overnight without it getting tough. The resulting meat is full of flavor from the garlic, cumin, and cayenne, and juicy — even if it’s a little overcooked,” according to Food and Wine.
4. Pan Seared
Pan-searing is a slightly more advanced method of preparation, but it is also essential for the preparation of pan sauces. This technique is described in detail: “Let’s first focus on how to cook a chicken breast in the pan, which is my favorite technique because of the flavorful crust that forms. Chicken breasts must be at room temperature before going in the pan as cold chicken can cook unevenly and tends to be tough,” writes Flavcity.
“Cooking chicken in a skillet usually results in a one-pot meal that’s easy to make and easy to clean up. If you’re using cast-iron, make sure you know how to clean a cast-iron skillet,” adds Taste of Home.
As an additional technique for pan-searing, “Although not a must, pounding boneless chicken breasts to an even thickness will ensure even (and faster!) cooking,” says Real Simple.
Fried chicken can be an absolute treat. They are a perfect example of a method that has crept into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There may have been a time when fried chicken at breakfast may have seemed odd, but it is now widely available at restaurants everywhere. The passion for fried chicken is often attested to by kitchen professionals, “‘I admit that nothing can stand in for good fried chicken,'” says chef John Currence,” writes Food and Wine.
Even the humble fried chicken sandwich has been elevated to culinary fare. At some establishments, fried chicken is a platform for exotic flavors. “In these decadent fried chicken sandwiches from Hakim Sulaimani, proprietor of Yafa Cafe in Brooklyn, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are infused with golden color and warming flavors from a buttermilk brine seasoned with Hawaii, a Yemeni spice mixture usually consisting of cardamom, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, and coriander,” says Food and Wine.
For the home cook, fried chicken breast might seem too difficult but “Don’t let not having a deep-fryer stop you from making incredibly crispy fried chicken. An oil-filled pot is all you need and our guide to how to make fried chicken better than KFC,” according to Taste of Home.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Chicken Fingers in America
- Best Chicken Noodle Soups
- Best Frozen Chicken Tenders
- Best Ways to Cook Eggs
- Best Healthy Cooking Oils
- Taste of Home
- African Bites
- Real Simple
- The Modern Proper
- All Recipes
- Insanely Good Recipes
- Feasting at Home
- Food and Wine
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.