Oven Baked Chicken Breasts
Very few chicken dishes can be as simple and easy to prepare as oven baked chicken breasts. One only needs to toss them in a simple mixture of herbs and spices and put in the oven. Within several minutes, you can already be enjoying yourself to several pieces of tender and juicy chicken breasts. There are a few key elements to perfecting oven baked chicken breasts, however. Let’s find out.
The Chicken Breast
An ounce of skinless and boneless chicken breast can provide you with about 8.7 grams of protein and only 1 gram of fat. An ounce of boneless and skinless chicken thigh, on the other hand, contains about 7.3 grams of protein and 3.0 grams of fat.
If you decide to retain the skin, an ounce of chicken breasts can provide 5.8 grams of protein and 2.6 grams of fat. An ounce of chicken thigh, meanwhile, can provide 4.8 grams of protein and 4.3 grams of fat.
Whether you decide to keep the skin or not, chicken breasts will still turn out as leaner protein than chicken thighs.
Whenever you buy chicken breasts, make sure to press the meat. It should feel “springy”. The flesh should never sink when you press it with your fingers. It should also not be “hard” to the touch. If you can buy a bone-in chicken breast, try to press against the breastbone. If it is flexible, then you can be sure that the chicken is young. A young chicken means a more tender meat.
Look at the color of the flesh, too. It should always be pink. If you see any color other than pink, there is a good chance that the chicken breast has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time. Always go for the freshest chicken breasts you can buy.
You can never go wrong with seasonings. Use whatever herbs and spices that you want in your dish. If there are seasonings that should always be part of your recipe, that would be salt and pepper. The pepper will give your dish a hint of spiciness, while also adding depth of flavor to your oven baked chicken breasts.
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Experiment with paprika, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, or any other herb or spice that you want to use. For obvious reasons, it is important to be knowledgeable about the different seasonings that work well together. It is also critical to go easy on the seasonings. Using too many spices and herbs in your chicken breast recipe can lead to a muddled flavor. Instead of enjoying your dish, you might be tempted to throw it away.
To Marinate or To Not Marinate
Like the use of seasonings, everything depends on your preferences. If you wish to have oven baked chicken breasts that have more of the chicken flavor, then you can always opt not to marinate the bird. The thing about marinating is that it can boost the flavor of the chicken, depending on the marinade that you use, of course. If you use the wrong ingredients for your marinade, then you can ruin your dish.
If you decide to marinate your chicken breasts, it is best to keep it simple. You only need to enhance the flavor of the chicken, not overpower it. Marinating does not only enhance the flavor of your main ingredient. It also keeps it tender and moist because of the additional moisture in the meat.
When marinating chicken breasts, it is best to leave them in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. The longer you let them soak, the more intense the flavor of the dish.
One of the simplest marinades for good oven baked chicken breasts recipe is a combination of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and fresh oregano. It is essential to use only high-quality olive oil so as to impart a more refined flavor to the chicken.
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If you are only after tenderizing the meat of the chicken, you can always skip the complicated marinating process. A simpler approach will be to use solution of lukewarm water and salt. The ideal ratio is 16:1. That means 16 parts of water to one part of salt. Mix the solution very well and pour over your chicken breasts. Let it “tenderize” for about half an hour up to 2 hours.
Timing is Crucial
One of the most important elements for cooking the perfect oven baked chicken breasts is correct timing. This is crucial. You do not want to overcook chicken breasts; unless you want to chew on a dry piece of poultry meat.
The length of time of baking is dependent on two things. One is the thickness of the chicken breasts. If you look at this part of the chicken, it has a thicker central portion where it joins the breastbone. It narrows towards the edges. As such, if you cook the meat this way, you will already cook the edges, but the center will still be pink and bloody.
It is for this reason that you may want to butterfly the chicken breast. This will help you make a thinner piece of meat. It is also important to flatten the meat using a meat mallet or your rolling pin. This helps ensure that you have an even thickness. This guarantees more uniform cooking.
The second factor that can impact the length of baking time is the temperature of the oven. The higher the oven temperature, the faster is the cooking process. In the recipes we are going to share with you later, baking at 425 degrees Fahrenheit will only require about 18 minutes. On the other hand, baking the chicken at 400°F will need about 22 to 26 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slice.
So you see, there are no hard and fast rules as to the correct time for cooking baked chicken breasts. Everything depends on the temperature of the oven and the thickness of the poultry meat.
One thing you can do is to stick a meat thermometer into the center of the chicken breast. If it reads 165 degrees, then it’s cooked.
Simple Oven Baked Chicken Breasts
In this oven baked chicken breasts recipe, we are going to heat the oven up to 400°F only. This will produce an overall cooking time of about 22 to 26 minutes. If you slice the chicken breasts thin enough, then you can achieve it in 22 minutes.
5 to 6 pieces of boneless and skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of high-quality olive oil
For the seasoning:
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning (you can use dried oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil)
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of black pepper
¼ teaspoon of paprika
- Get ready with the oven by turning up the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine the olive oil with the seasoning ingredients. Pour this over the chicken breasts. Make sure to coat every piece of the poultry meat.
- Arrange the seasoned chicken breasts on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for about 22 to 26 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. You can use a meat thermometer to check the meat’s internal temperature. It should be 165°F.
- Take the chicken out from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Serve as is or slice them up into bite-sized pieces.
Golden Oven Baked Chicken Breasts
In this recipe, we will crank up the heat to 425 degrees. This will reduce the overall cooking time to less than 20 minutes. What makes this recipe more appealing is the addition of brown sugar in the seasoning mix. This will give your chicken a nice golden-brown crust that will entice you to dig in the moment it comes out of the oven.
4 pieces of 5- to 6-oz chicken breasts, flattened to about 0.6 inches thick
2 teaspoons of high-quality olive oil
For the seasoning:
1 and ½ tablespoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of dried thyme or oregano
1 teaspoon of paprika
½ teaspoon of black pepper
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
- Crank up your oven and let it heat up to 425°.
- Mix the ingredients for the seasoning.
- Get a baking sheet and place the chicken breasts upside down on the baking sheet. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil on the chicken breasts. Rub the oil over the chicken breasts using your fingers. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the meat.
- Flip the chicken breasts and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Massage into the flesh before adding the seasoning.
- Bake for about 18 minutes. Watch the surface of the chicken breast. It should turn a golden brown. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the meat should be about 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the chicken from the oven. Transfer it to a serving plate. Wait about 5 minutes before you serve the dish.
Cooking the best oven baked chicken breasts requires perfect timing to keep the meat juicy and tender. Choosing the right seasonings can also help.