How to Cook Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts to Use in Dinner Recipes
Although boneless, skinless chicken breasts are probably one of the most versatile menu ingredients around, this is only true if they have been correctly prepared and cooked before being used.
Here are a few handy tips to ensure that your chicken breasts will come out as tender, juicy and tasty as possible – every time.
So often a casserole recipe will call for 2 or 3 cups of diced chicken or a recipe for a chicken wrap will say to use 2 cups of chopped cooked chicken. You can buy precooked chicken at the store but this is an expensive option.
It only takes about 10-20 minutes to make perfect chicken ready to use and much healthier as well. It’s fresh and you control the amount of salt and no added preservatives!
#1 – Bake Boneless Chicken Cubes in the Oven
This is a delicious and versatile way to cook enough chicken for the week. Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Simply fold a couple of pieces of aluminum foil into a long rectangle and lay it in the middle of a cookie sheet. Lay another long piece of foil over top of the cookie sheet. Fold the edges down around the edges of the pan and push down around the center divider.
Cut about 1-1/2 to 2 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts into small cubes. Place all of the chicken in a medium bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lightly salt & pepper.
Take 1/2 of the chicken out of the bowl and place it into a small bowl. Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning and pour into one side of the cookie sheet. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing seasoning over the remaining chicken and stir through. Place this chicken in the other side of the cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
# 2 – Saute Chicken Cubes in a Skillet
This is another one of our favorite ways to cook chicken to use in a dinner recipe or for a healthy lunch. Place the boneless chicken breasts on a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut chicken into cubes. Heat about 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a skillet. Saute chicken for about 5-7 minutes or until cooked through. Lightly salt and pepper and squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime over the chicken a few times. Also to add flavor, sprinkle a little taco seasoning over chicken while cooking. Get creative and use a few of your favorite spices. This makes a juicy tender chicken that can be used in so many different recipes.
# 3 – Bake Boneless Chicken Breasts in the Oven
Another favorite method for cooking chicken that we can add to our dinner recipes is to bake the whole pieces of chicken in the oven. If you don’t feel like chopping raw chicken, then this is a good method for getting the chicken cooked just right.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and simply place the chicken breasts on a piece of foil that has been cut about twice the size that you need. Once you have this sized correctly, lay foil and then the chicken on top of a cookie sheet. Brush a little bit of olive oil on each side of the chicken breasts and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Fold the foil up and over the chicken to form a tent like shape. Crimp the ends to seal and bake for 15-25 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the breasts.
#4 – Cook Chicken Breasts in the Skillet
This is a great method that cooks up the chicken breasts nicely to use in just about any dinner recipes or top any salad. Try a juicy chicken salad with strawberries!
Flatten the chicken with a meat mallot. Melt butter and a little coconut oil in a large skillet. Cook one side of the chicken until brown and then flip the chicken over. Reduce heat; cover and gently cook for about 10 minutes.
#5 Poach that Chicken
Poaching chicken just means to cook the raw chicken in boiling broth or water. This is a great method if you need to make some quick soup.
To poach boneless, skinless chicken breasts, place them in a pot and add 2 cups of chicken broth. Bring broth to a boil; cover and reduce heat. Cook chicken for about 10-15 minutes. Throw some lemon slices in with the chicken for a different twist. Remove from the pot and let cool before chopping or dicing.
Tips for Better Tasting Chicken
Soak Breasts in Brine Beforehand
Soaking the breasts in brine before cooking them will ensure that they retain flavor and remain as juicy as possible, and the brine mixture can be made by dissolving 3 tablespoons of salt in 4 cups of water. Place the chicken breasts into a shallow dish and pour the brine mixture over them, making sure to completely cover the chicken. Allow them to stand in the brine for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 1 hour – if they are soaking for longer than 15 minutes, place the entire container into the refrigerator. Afterwards, take the breasts out of the brine and pat them dry before flattening and spicing them.
Flatten the Breasts to Ensure Even Cooking
Most chicken breasts are relatively thick in places, which means that they will not cook through evenly – by the time the inside is cooked, the outer section will be quite dry. To avoid this, you will need to use a large drinking glass, Mason jar or even a clean, thick wooden chopping board to flatten them before cooking. Place the uncooked breasts on another wooden chopping board or firm counter surface that is clean and use the bottom of the glass, jar or another board to apply pressure on top of the breasts. Once they have been flattened, they will cook through far more evenly.
Another great method to use if you have really thick pieces of breasts is to cut them in half diagonally with a sharp knife.
Season Well before Cooking
To give your chicken breasts as much taste and flavor as possible, it is recommended that you season or spice them well beforehand. When it comes to spicing the breasts, there is no right or wrong spices that can be used. If you’d like to go hot and spicy, use BBQ spice, cayenne pepper and a little garlic powder. If herbs are the more preferable choice, using sweet basil, rosemary or thyme will help bring out the flavor substantially. If lemon is your favorite, lay lemon slices on top of chicken before cooking along with the spices.
Use Medium Heat when Cooking Chicken on the Stove Top
Many people make the mistake of trying to cook chicken breasts too quickly. However, to help retain juiciness, they need to be cooked over a lower heat for a slightly longer time. Pour a little olive oil or other cooking oil of your choice into a pan and place the flattened breasts into it. Allow to cook for 1 minute before turning, and then allow the other side of the breasts to cook for 1 minute as well.
Once this is done, turn the stove top heat down to low, cover your pan and allow the breasts to cook for a further 7 to 10 minutes. If you are unsure whether the breasts are cooked through or not, take one of them out and cut it in half. If the meat is white throughout, it is fully cooked.
Once your chicken breasts are cooked in the pan, they can then be cut into slices or cubes, or they can be shredded – depending on what your recipe requires. Following the above instructions will ensure that your chicken breasts turn out full of flavor and tender enough to be used in virtually any dish or recipe.
Always make sure you are buying the healthiest chicken possible.