Let’s talk chicken. Or, more specifically: how to cook it. When it comes to preparing a boneless, skinless chicken breast, it seems as if the world is made up of two types of people:
1. The overeager cook who always pulls the chicken off the heat a little too early. This person is all too familiar with the thin layer of pink that rears its ugly head in the center of a chicken breast when it’s undercooked. The fear of salmonella poisoning is real, so it’s common to hear this person ask “does this still look too pink?” throughout your meal. (In case you were wondering, this is me!)
2. The cautious cook leaves their chicken on the stove until they know every last bit of pink has been cooked out. This can result in a dried out, almost-burned bird and often means you jaw is in for a workout.
Then there are a select few that don’t fall into either category because they have somehow perfected the art of cooking a delicious chicken breast. They are able to make a slightly boring piece of meat turn into a glistening, juicy, flavorful protein that leaves you craving more.
I always found it a bit unfair that these people even exist. So I decided to dig around to figure it out. Through a decent amount of research and many chicken dinners, I dare say that I’ve figured out the secret to cooking a delicious chicken breast that’s bursting with flavor. Scroll on for details and say buh-bye to bland bird.
Ingredients and Equipment Needed
- Cast iron skillet: I use a 12″ cast iron because I’m usually cooking for my husband and myself. A 12″ can fit up to three chicken breasts comfortably.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast: most chicken breasts range anywhere from a third of a pound to a half of a pound. The cook time will vary slightly based on the weight, but it shouldn’t make a big difference.
- Salt, pepper, and lemon: my go-to seasoning is a thorough coating of salt and pepper and a squeeze of half a lemon. Lemon does incredible things for chicken. I recommend sticking with that base and then adding any other herbs or spices you’d like.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: don’t skimp on this.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the cast iron over medium-high heat and add two tablespoons of oil per chicken breast to the skillet.
- Once the oil is just shimmering, add the chicken. Careful – the oil is hot and will splatter. Squeeze half a lemon over the chicken breasts. I know you’ll be tempted, but don’t move the chicken. This when the chicken breast will turn that wonderfully golden color and the outside will get nice and crispy.
- Once the chicken is a deep golden color on the bottom (about 5-7 minutes), flip the chicken breast to the other side. If the chicken sticks to the pan when flipping it over, it’s not done. Leave it on a little longer until it easily comes off the pan. If it seems like the pan is needing more oil, feel free to add more oil to the pan.
- Once this side of the chicken breast has turned a similar color to the other side (about 5 minutes), move the pan into the oven. Leave the chicken breast in the oven for 5 minutes.
- When 5 minutes is up, take the skillet out of the oven and let the chicken rest for about 2-3 minutes before cutting into it or serving it.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and slice. And bask in all that not-pink-but-not-dry chicken breast glory. Enjoy!