Follow our simple guide on how to cook chicken breast including how to cook it in the oven, in a pan, and in an air fryer too.
Wondering how to cook chicken breast? Chicken breast is a lean cut of meat taken from the underside of the chicken. An average chicken breast has around 165 calories and 31g of protein per 100g and is considered low in fat too.
When it comes to cooking, chicken breast is a versatile meat that can be paired or cooked with a variety of different ingredients; infused with lemon and garlic, stuffed with cheese and bacon, or simmered in a rich Indian curry.
Chicken breasts can be sourced from most supermarkets or butchers. We’d recommend opting for organic, free-range chicken. If you’re buying from your local butchers you can find out more about the chicken and where the meat came from. They can also prepare the chicken for you too.
To help you cook perfect chicken breasts every time, we have put together the following information:
How to prepare chicken breast
There are many different ways to prep chicken breasts before you cook them. Firstly, you’ll need to take the chicken breast out of the fridge for about 15 mins before cooking. Allowing the chicken breasts to come to room temperature will ensure that they will cook through evenly and that you don’t end up with raw meat in the middle.
Unless you are using a chicken marinade or poaching it, it is useful to pat it dry with a kitchen towel to absorb any excess moisture, so that you get a nice crust to your chicken when it is roasted or fried. If you don’t do this the chicken could steam on the outside and end up a grey-ish white colour rather than an attractive golden brown. Please note that this step is different from washing your chicken, which you should never do as it puts you at risk of food poisoning through the spread of bacteria.
Once your breasts are ready it is important to season them generously with salt, and any other seasonings that you want to add. As it is such a lean cut you do not get any fat-produced flavour so it is essential to season.
When it comes to cutting chicken breast you can leave the chicken breast whole, butterfly it, slice it or cut it into chunks depending on what the recipe calls for.
How to marinate chicken breast
Adding a marinade to meat is a great way to tenderise it and to add flavour. For a marinade you need the following:
- Salt – an essential for adding flavour to all food
- Acid e.g. lemon juice, vinegar, or wine: to tenderise the meat
- Flavourings e.g. paprika, rosemary, or garlic: to build up a depth of flavour to the meat
- Fat e.g. olive oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil: to keep the meat moist, add colour and flavour to it when cooking and to stop it sticking to the cooking receptacle.
You should ensure that you have at least one of each of the above elements in your marinade, then pour it into a dish or bag, add the chicken breast and massage the mixture into the breasts. Then leave the breasts covered in the marinade in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight for the most enhanced flavour.
What is the difference between a chicken breast and a chicken fillet?
Chicken breasts are the entire piece of meat that is cut from the top of the chicken, there are two per chicken and then tend to be thicker on one end than another.
A chicken fillet is essentially a chicken breast, or a slice of chicken breast, that has been bashed into an even thickness. It is useful to have an equal thickness throughout so that it cooks at an even cooking time and temperature.
How to cook chicken breast
If you are cooking an average-sized whole chicken breast it will take about 15-25 minutes to cook. If you are cooking sliced or diced chicken breasts it generally takes 8-12 mins. However, do not just use timing as a guide, and remember to always check the chicken is cooked through rather than blindly removing it from the oven after 20 mins.
How to cook chicken breast: in the oven
- 1 chicken breast
- 1/2tbsp oil, olive, or sunflower
- Seasonings (you could try paprika and oregano, thyme and lemon zest, or rosemary and garlic.)