How to Keep Chicken Breasts Moist

Cooking a perfectly juicy and tender chicken breast has been a common challenge for chefs of all skill levels for generations. These lean cuts of meat are often much less forgiving than their dark meat counterparts, as they can easily turn dry and rubbery if overcooked.

Here, we’ll explore several different technique options for you to try out to ensure your chicken breasts turn out tender, juicy and bursting with flavor each and every time.

The Science of Chicken Breast Cooking

Before delving into a few different tips on how to keep chicken breasts moist, let’s take a quick look at the science behind doing so. Basically, it’s all about the temperature – and you should make sure you have a meat thermometer to help nail the perfect temp.

When chicken breasts are cooked at high temperatures, the proteins within them contract, squeezing out moisture and causing the meat to become stiff and dry. To prevent your chicken breast from becoming dry, the USDA recommends cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Using this as a general baseline can help ensure you’re not undercooking or overcooking your meat, which should also help it retain its moistness.

Brine It

One of the most effective ways to enhance the natural flavor and moisture of chicken breasts is to brine them. To do this, immerse the chicken in a mixture of water and a few tablespoons of salt for 20 to 30 minutes. This step infuses the meat with additional moisture, making it incredibly tender and preventing it from becoming dry or tough during cooking.

Make It Thinner

One of the main challenges in achieving juicy, succulent chicken breasts lies in the uneven thickness of the breasts. In many cases, one side of the breast is thick while the other is thin, which can lead to uneven cooking. The best way to overcome this issue is to aim for a more uniform thickness in your meat.

To do so, you can either butterfly the breasts (i.e., split them open like a book) before cooking, or cut them entirely in half to create several thinner cutlets. Thinner pieces of chicken are less likely to dry out because they cook more evenly and in less time, making this a fairly simple and straightforward option.

Bread or Batter It

Coating with breadcrumbs or batter is another great way to prevent chicken breasts from being dry. Adding an additional outside layer like breading or batter serves as insulation for the meat, protecting it from the direct heat of the cooking surface. The surface of the coating then dries out, creating a crisp texture while further shielding the meat itself from overcooking.

Poach It

Chicken breasts are also perfect for poaching, which involves simmering the meat in liquid that is typically kept below a boil. To poach chicken breasts, simply place them in a pan in a single layer, cover them with a few inches of liquid (such as water, broth, etc.), add any desired seasonings or flavorings and bring the liquid just barely to a boil over medium-high heat. After about 10 minutes, confirm that the chicken is barely opaque in the center. If it is, then you’re good to remove the pan from heat, cover it and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes or until there’s no pink in the center and the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit. And then enjoy!

Dry poaching is also a viable option, which involves covering the chicken breasts with parchment paper before placing them in the oven. This method allows the chicken to baste in its own juices, resulting in juicy and tender meat.

Rest It

Once your chicken breasts reach the desired temperature, remove them from the oven and let them rest for about five minutes. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, locking in moisture and preventing it from spilling out when you cut into it.

Buy It from Yelloh

Cooking the perfect chicken breast is possible. For a fork-tender, mouthwatering experience in every bite, go with Yelloh’s Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets – or any other item within our delicious assortment of chicken breast dishes.

Our LiveSmart® chicken breasts are glazed to keep them tender and juicy as they cook, making them an ideal complement to your favorite pasta, rice or side of veggies. Specially selected for fork-tenderness and mouthwatering flavor, these frozen chicken breasts come in a resealable bag so you can thaw and cook as many as you want, and keep the rest tucked in the freezer for later.

Put this poultry at the center of your plate and you’re sure to create a chicken dinner that’s a total winner.

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