Last Friday on Facebook, I was asked, “How do I cook a boneless skinless chicken breast so that it’s moist and not dry?” I thought it was a great question, so I’m sharing the answer with you!
The trouble with a boneless skinless chicken breast is that there’s no bone to keep the meat moist, no skin to protect it from the dry heat, and no fat to keep it juicy. To make things even worse, a chicken breast is not the same thickness from end to end. Which means uneven cooking.
So, it really doesn’t matter which way you cook a boneless skinless chicken breast. Because it has a tapered shape, the thinner end will overcook by time the thicker end has cooked regardless of if you grill, pan-fry, roast, poach, or broil it.
To make sure you end up with a juicy boneless skinless chicken breast, gently pound it to an even thickness. Even thickness = even cooking. You barely need any elbow grease! You’re just trying to even things out, not pound it into a cutlet.
If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use a rolling-pin, the heavy end of a coffee mug, a wine bottle, a small pot, or even a frying pan. Really anything with a flat surface and a little weight will do.
Not only will flattening a chicken breast help it cook evenly, it will cook quicker because it’s thinner and will be tenderer because pounding the chicken breast breaks down the muscle fibres.
To pound a chicken breast, pat the breast dry (less splatter this way) then cover it with a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper. Pound the thickest part gently until it’s an even thickness.
How To Cook a Moist Chicken Breast Tips:
- Remember, even thickness = even cooking. This is especially true if you’re cooking a few chicken breasts at once. If they’re all an even thickness, they’ll finish cooking at the same time.
- Regardless of how you cook a chicken breast, take it off the heat when it’s just done, 160°F. As it comes off of the heat and rests it will continue to cook.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, pay close attention to the signs of doneness. The chicken breast will feel firm when pressed and when you slice into it with a knife, it should look opaque and juicy. If the centre looks pink and translucent, it needs to cook a few minutes longer. Check early and check often.