How to Cook Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

Grilled chicken breasts in pan
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Each year, Americans eat around 92 pounds of chicken per person, higher than the amount of beef and pork consumed annually. Boneless, skinless chicken breast is a versatile center-of-the-plate protein, not only because it takes on seasoning and sauces so well, but also because it can be cooking in myriad ways. This includes grilling, baking, poaching, sauteeing, slow-cooking, and pressure-cooking.

No matter which method you use, make sure the boneless chicken breast temperature is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it has reached the proper temperature before eating.

Cooking Methods

The best way to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts depends on how you plan to use the chicken, the flavor you want to achieve, and how healthy you want the end result to be.

  1. Baking: This might be the easiest method of cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Simply preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, drizzle the chicken with olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Bake the chicken for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Remember, the chicken will continue to cook from residual heat after you pull it out of the oven. Let the breasts sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then take the internal temperature to ensure it's 165 degrees F.
  2. Poaching: Poached chicken can be shredded and used in a variety of applications, including enchiladas, chicken salad, and soup. To poach boneless, skinless chicken breasts, place them in a large skillet and add 1 to 2 cups of water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook for 9 to 14 minutes until chicken reaches 160 degrees F. You can also poach in the oven by placing chicken in a single layer in a roasting pan. Add lemon slices, peppercorns, or any other spices or herbs for flavoring. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and immediately pour over chicken. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 35 minutes.
  1. Sauteing: Pound the chicken breasts thin or cut them up into bite-sized pieces. Season it with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken to the pan, cooking for 4 to 5 minutes per side until cooked through.
  2. Grilling: Grilled chicken breasts are incredibly flavorful but still healthy. Pat the chicken dry and season it with salt and pepper. Oil a clean grill grate and preheat it to medium heat. Use tongs to place the chicken on the grill and let it cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the breasts and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the thermometer has reached the appropriate temperature. If you want to add barbecue sauce, wait until the last couple of minutes to avoid burning the sauce.
  3. Slow-cooking: Set it and forget it by cooking boneless, skinless chicken breast in a slow cooker. Arrange the chicken in the slow cooker and pour in a half-cup of water or chicken broth. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You can also cook frozen chicken breasts on low for 8 to 9 hours.
  1. Pressure Cooking: Using the pressure cooker returns similar results as the slow cooker but in less time. Add thawed chicken breasts to the cooker with 1/2 cup water, and then cover and lock the cooker, and bring the pressure up to high. Cook for 12 minutes, release the pressure and check the internal temperature. You can re-cover, bring the pressure back up, and cook for 2-3 minutes longer if necessary.