How to Cook Chicken Breasts Evenly (and faster!)

I’m a huge fan of the mighty chicken breast. Although a bit more expensive than thighs, they are lean and lend themselves well to a variety of dishes.

One issue with cooking chicken breasts, though, is that the shape and thickness are quite variable so if you cook them ‘as is’ you’ll have a little extra work to ensure they are completely cooked.

With this tutorial I’m going to show you a faster and more even way to cook chicken breasts.

Please note: I’m not a butcher so I’ll be using technical terms such as ‘the flappy thing’.

One way to even out the breast thickness is to pound the chicken with a meat tenderizer. This isn’t my technique of choice though. You either end up with chicken juices sprayed across the counter (I like to call this a ‘Salmonella Shower’) or, if you wrap the chicken in parchment paper or cling wrap before pounding, you contain the spray but create more kitchen waste.

Pounding the chicken and then cleaning up the mess is a little too much like hard work for this lazy cook. I prefer to cut the chicken into thinner pieces.

Technique for Cooking Chicken Breasts Evenly

All chicken breasts have a small flappy bit. Hubby has just informed me this is called the pectoralis minor. I’m still going to call it the ‘flappy thing’. Your first cut separates this flappy thing from the rest of the breast.

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Next, hold the breast upright on its side and slice it in half. This is a little bit easier if the breast is slightly frozen, but I often make this cut while completely thawed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just cut it approximately in half.

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Now you have three pieces that are closer in thickness than whole breasts (the flappy bits will be a bit thinner but that’s okay). Repeat with your remaining chicken breasts.

Preheat your oven to 350F. You can marinade your meat or cook it as is (or a combination depending on your dish).

Line a baking sheet or two with tinfoil (I can usually fit the pieces from three breasts per baking sheet).

Cook for ten minutes on one side, then flip over and cook for another ten minutes. Slice into your thickest piece to make sure it’s fully cooked. Most of the time I find the chicken is completely cooked at this point. If necessary, remove the cooked chicken and cook the thickest pieces for an additional minute or two until they are no longer pink.

The result is perfectly cooked juicy chicken breasts.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: ~20 minutes

I love to cook chicken this way even if I’m making a stir fry or fajitas. This technique ensures the chicken is thoroughly cooked, I can make larger portions if I don’t have to fit the chicken into the pan with the vegetables, and, an added bonus, cooked chicken is way easier to cut into cubes or strips than raw chicken.

Next Week: Five Quick and Easy Marinades for Chicken (or tofu)

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