Chicken might not be as indulgent as steak, as fancy as salmon or as nostalgia-inducing as turkey, but its versatility, flavor, simplicity and relative low-cost make it our number one meat go-to in the kitchen. For a food that everybody loves and learns how to cook at some point, though, it can be surprisingly easy to mess up, and anybody who doesn’t like it has probably only had the dry, overcooked kind. No more! Gimme Some Oven is here to share five easy, simple steps to the most juicy, most tender, and most perfect baked chicken you’ve ever had.
5 Steps to Chicken Perfection
We all associate brining with Thanksgiving turkey, so you’d be forgiven if you rolled your eyes at this step. Trust us, though— it’s a lot faster than you’re thinking, and it’ll lock in moisture for extra juicy chicken. All you need to do is soak your chicken breasts in warm saltwater for 15 minutes, then pat them dry with a paper towel. If you’d like to brine ahead of time, the breasts can soak for up to 6 hours.
- Brush with butter or oil.
No matter which one you choose – indulgent butter or more heart-healthy olive oil – make sure you brush both sides. Not only will it help the seasoning stick and prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan, it will also add flavor and a golden glow to your chicken.
- Rub with seasoning.
Salt, pepper, paprika, Old Bay— whatever your favorite seasonings, add them here for a flavorful punch, even if your recipe calls for “plain” chicken.
- Roast on high heat.
A quick cook time (15 to 18 minutes) on high heat (around 450 degrees Fahrenheit) is best to lock in flavor and create a nice crust. This step is also a good time to look to Thanksgiving for inspiration: break out that meat thermometer and stop cooking once your chicken reaches 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
We could all stand to try this step with any meat we cook. Tent your chicken with aluminum foil and let the chicken rest for 5 to 10 minutes. (If you’re cooking a simple meal, that’s enough time to whip up a veggie side dish!) Have some patience and you’ll be rewarded with juicy, tender meat.
And there we are! Dry chicken no more! Did any of these steps surprise you? Were any of these tips ones you were taught when you were learning to cook, or have you been leaving some steps out? Tell us what you think!