If “superfoods” really exist, chicken breast has to be number one on the list. If you remove the skin and trim away any visible fat, chicken breast is 98% lean. It’s basically the ultimate low-fat, no-carb protein source.
This is why knowing how to bake chicken breast in the oven is so useful.
It also doesn’t hurt that chicken breast is the least expensive animal protein in most grocery stores. Just be aware that the really cheap chicken breasts are from caged chickens, so spend a little more and get good organic free-range chicken if you can.
I eat A LOT of chicken breast. To be able to eat chicken this often, I have come up with a lot of different tasty chicken recipes. I have already shared a few chicken recipes on the blog, but today I wanted to show you how to bake chicken breast in the oven.
I usually cook 4-5 breasts at a time and store them in zip-lock bags in the fridge until I need them. They will keep fresh for about three days.
How to bake chicken breast in the oven
You can see how I bake the perfect juicy chicken breasts in this short video or read the step-by-step instructions below.
If you follow these 3 super easy steps, you will end up with a perfectly baked chicken breast every time:
1. Clean the chicken breast
Cut away any visible fat from the boneless skinless chicken breasts. I always use a pair of scissors for this as it’s much easier than using a knife.
2. Brine the chicken breasts
Fill a large bowl with just enough water to cover the chicken breasts and add ½ tbsp. of salt for each chicken breast. Let the salt dissolve before adding the chicken breasts.
Leave the chicken breasts to marinate in the salt water for 1-3 hours in the fridge. This will draw water into the chicken and make it super moist when you cook it (this process is called “brining”).
3. Season and cook the chicken breasts
Rinse the chicken breasts thoroughly in cold water. Dry them with a paper towel and place them on a baking pan.
Add your favorite seasoning. I usually use pepper, curry powder, paprika, and garlic powder, but you can use a wide variety of spices.
Bake the chicken breasts in the oven for about 18-20 minutes at a 365 F (185 C), depending on the size of the chicken breasts (the ones I cooked today were large, so they needed 21 minutes).
Cut into one with a knife to see if they are done before taking them out of the oven.
Let the chicken breasts rest for 2-3 minutes after you take them out of the oven to lock in all the juices.
That’s it! This is how to bake chicken breast in the oven. By cooking the chicken breast like this, you will get perfectly tender, juicy, and delicious chicken breast every time!
The benefits of brining
Brining is, in my opinion, the easiest and most effective way to tenderize chicken breast and lock in the moisture.
If you are worried about adding too much salt to the chicken, don’t be. Brining doesn’t actually add a lot of sodium to the chicken, as long as you only leave the chicken in the brine for a few hours and rinse it well afterward. Also, you won’t have to salt the chicken later for flavor.
This article shows exactly how much sodium is added during brining for different types of poultry. Their conclusion is “only about 1% of the total sodium from the brine is absorbed (for a 24-hour brine). Brine for texture reasons, and put away sodium fears.”
Frequently asked questions
A lot of people have asked great questions in the comments to this guide, so I thought I would collect all the questions and answers here for your convenience:
Q: Can I use frozen chicken breast? A: You can’t brine the frozen chicken breast (unless you plan to leave them in the brine for a long time while they thaw). You have to defrost the chicken before you start brining.
Q: Can I use this method when grilling? A: Absolutely! I think brining is even more important for grilled chicken that tends to get dry easier than baked chicken.
Q: Do I need to rinse the chicken after brining? And doesn’t that spread bacteria in the kitchen? A: I know that many cookbooks say not to rinse chicken for safety reasons, but you have to do it when brining. You need to get the brine off before cooking or the chicken will be too salty.
Q: Do I have to put the chicken in the refrigerator during brining? A: I recommend that you do, but it technically shouldn’t be necessary, as long as you fully cook the chicken breasts. But better safe than sorry, right?
Q: Do I need to cover the chicken breasts in the oven? A: No, I never do that.
Q: Can I use bone-in chicken breasts? A: Yes, but you may have to bake them for longer. Test if they are done with a knife or cooking thermometer.
Q: What does the internal temperature have to be if I use a cooking thermometer? A: The safe internal temperature of chicken is 165 F° (74 C°).
Q: Can I marinate the chicken after brining? A: Absolutely, I often do that. Just don’t add a lot of additional salt.
Q: Do I need to turn the chicken breasts in the oven while cooking? A: No, that shouldn’t be necessary unless your oven cooks very unevenly.
Q: Do I need to put any oil in the pan? A: Only if your pan tends to stick to whatever you are cooking. I use a piece of aluminum foil in the pan to prevent that.
Q: Can I use any kind of salt for the brining (like Himalayan pink salt)? A: Yes, any type of salt should be fine.
Healthy oven baked chicken breast recipes
You can use the brined chicken breasts as the base for a lot of fantastic chicken recipes. Here are some of my favorites:
- Healthy Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Chicken Breast Wrapped in Prosciutto & Cream Cheese
- Mustard Baked Chicken Tenders
You can also check out my list of the best low-carb chicken recipes.
The possibility for healthy and yummy chicken recipes are endless, so there is absolutely no reason to settle for dry chicken. Not when you know how to bake the perfect chicken breast in the oven!
When you’ve tried baking chicken breasts in the oven like this, please don’t forget to let me know how you liked them in the comments below!
How to Bake Chicken Breast in the Oven
- 2 chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Seasoning (i like curry powder and paprika)
- Cut away any visible fat and bones. I always use a pair of scissors for this as it’s much easier than using a knife.
- Fill a large bowl with just enough water to cover the chicken breasts and add ½ tbsp. of salt for each chicken breast. Let the salt dissolve before adding the chicken breasts.
- Leave the chicken breasts to marinate in the salt water for 1-3 hours in the fridge. This will draw water into the chicken and make it super moist when you cook it (this process is called “brining”).
- Rinse the chicken breasts thoroughly in cold water. Dry them with a paper towel and put them on a baking pan.
- Add your favorite seasoning. I usually use pepper, curry powder, paprika and garlic powder, but you can use a wide variety of spices.
- Cook the chicken breasts in the oven for about 18-20 minutes at a 365 F (185 C), depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Cut into one with a knife to see if they are done before taking them out of the oven.
- Let the chicken breasts rest for 2-3 minutes after you take them out of the oven to lock in all the juices.
henry miles says
You’ve grown. This really shines! You make me want to learn more!
Hilda O. says
What oil do I use? I’ve been hearing that avocado is better than olive oil?
Christel Oerum says
This recipe does not require any oil.
When I do use oil, I generally use olive oil or for dishes like poke, I use Sesame oil. Both olive oil and avocado oil is considered “good” fats, while one could argue that olive oil is slightly more nutritious than avocado oil. If you don’t use big amounts and don’t have any dietary restrictions, I’d choose the one you think tastes the best
can you bake the chicken in a air fryer.
Christel Oerum says
Yes, after you have brined your chicken you can cook it in your preferred way
Elizabeth Barberis says
Thank you so much for the brining idea. The juiciest chicken I’ve ever made!
Can I use this recipe to pan fry the chicken breast?
Christel Oerum says
You can, but you have to adjust the cooking time. I would do medium heat and maybe cut the breast into thinner slices
Ginny Peveto says
This sounds great and I’m going to try it soon. I buy the big bag of frozen skinless boneless breasts and sometimes they’re pretty thick in places. Do you ever pound them for a more even thickness? If so, should I pound first then brine?
Christel Oerum says
You could, but I think the size is mostly relevant for the cooking time. If they are very uneven in size I’ll sometimes pull the smaller pieces out of the oven first, but I usually leave them in the brine the same amount of time
MAKING THE CHICKEN THIS WAY IS THE BEST TASTING CHICKEN EVER. SO JUICY AND SOFT. I WILL ALWAYS MAKE IT THIS WAY. THANK YOU
Vickie g says
I was ready to give up on chicken breasts until I saw your recipe. Incredible. I partially cook them as you direct and then use them in other recipes. Top with mozzarella and sauce and quick run under broiler, slice into pasta recipes or put into different sauces..especially like putting them into salsa, topping with cheese, cover to melt and finish cooking. Thank you
What if im making 2lbs or 4lbs of chicken tenders just to make my meals ahead, how much salt should I put or do I stick to the same amount. What about cooking time would it be the same or more?
Christel Oerum says
You’d probably need to up the amount of brine. Just make enough that it covers the chicken and keep the water to salt ratio the same. As long as you don
t place the chicken breasts on top of each other the cooking time should be the same. If you cut them down into strips/tenders you’ll need to reduce the cooking time. Best way to check if they are done is by using a cooking thermometer or cut one open