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Best way to cook chicken breasts

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (aka BSCBs) — is there anything more boring? They are all too often overcooked until dry and chewy, and I generally prefer more succulent boneless, skinless thighs. But for lunch and dinner favorites like chicken Caesar salad and chicken pasta, sliced juicy chicken breasts can’t be beat. They’re a great staple for quick lunches, too.

Fortunately I have one method that makes unfailingly juicy and tender boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Need some chicken for a salad, or to top some pasta? This is the method. It takes some trust, but believe me — it works flawlessly every single time.

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1 to 4

boneless, skinless chicken breasts, of similar size

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon

olive oil, unsalted butter, or combination of both

Instructions

  1. Flatten the chicken breasts:Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness with the bottom of a wide jar or glass. You can also (carefully!) use the handle of a heavy chef’s knife.
  2. Season the chicken breasts:Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts.
  3. Prepare the pan:Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the olive oil (or butter, if using). Swirl the pan so it is lightly covered with the olive oil.
  4. Cook the chicken breasts for 1 minute without moving:Turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for just about 1 minute to help them get a little golden on one side (you are not actually searing or browning them).
  5. Flip the chicken breasts:Then flip each chicken breast over.
  6. Turn the heat down to low:Turn the heat to low.
  7. Cover the pan and cook on low for 10 minutes.Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and walk away. Do not lift the lid; do not peek.
  8. Turn off the heat and let sit for an additional 10 minutes:After 10 minutes have elapsed, turn off the heat. (If you have an electric stove, remove the pan from the heat.) Reset the timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken breasts in the pan. Again, do not lift the lid; do not peek.
  9. Remove lid and take temperature:After the 10 minutes are up, take the lid off, and your chicken is done. Make sure there is no pink in the middle of the chicken breasts. If you want to be absolutely sure it is cooked, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check (the chicken should be at least 165°F). Slice and eat. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

  • Dredge in seasoned flour:You can also dredge the chicken breasts in flour before cooking. Season the flour with spices or fresh herbs and make sure the chicken is golden on one side before you flip it over. This will give your chicken a very subtle crust.
  • Quick brine:You can make your boneless skinless chicken breasts even juicier and more flavorful with a super-quick brine. Even just 15 minutes in a simple brine will make them juicier. Watch the video above to see how this is done.

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