Weekly Tip: How to Cook Moist Chicken Breast Every Time

 Some of the most glorious dishes of the French cuisine have been created for chicken – Julia Child

What you need to know to easily learn how to cook moist chicken breast, whether you’re baking, sautéing, grilling or poaching.

Recently, my niece sent me a “PLEASE HELP” e-mail. Her dilemma was dry chicken breast. So I grabbed my apron, gathered my test tubes, I mean kitchen utensils, and started my food experiment.

All fun aside, Americans eat about 90 pounds of chicken annually; so why not make it really delicious.

how to cook moist chicken breast

Here are some of the many ways that healthy chicken breast may be cooked.

  • Baked Chicken – Place chicken in a baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake, at 400 degrees, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Grilled Chicken – There are two types of heat on the grill.  Direct heat is when the meat is placed directly over the coals or gas flame.  Indirect heat is when the coals are mounded to one side of the grill and the meat is cooked on the opposite side. In a gas grill, one of the burners would be turned off.
  • Poached Chicken – Place chicken in a sauté pan, cover with water or chicken broth, add 1 bay leaf and simmer until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Sautéed Chicken – Place a small amount of olive oil and or butter in the bottom of a sauté pan.  Pound the chicken to an even thickness. Brown the meat, on both sides, on medium high, then decrease the heat to low and cook until you reach 165 degrees internally.  Depending on the thickness of the meat, this entire process should take about 3-5 minutes.

For my “mad” food science experiment, I compared boneless skinless chicken breast, at my niece’s request, and bone in, skin on chicken breast. I baked both cuts of meat using the instructions above; and I grilled both cuts, over direct heat, for 2 minutes per side.  Then I moved the chicken breast off the direct heat and continued to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Chicken breast drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper


Grilled skin on chicken

How to Tip: Be sure to use a dependable meat thermometer.

Note: See the USDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart

Both the boneless and the bone in chicken breasts came out juicy.  However, the bone in, skin on chicken was juicier and much more flavorful.

how to cook moist chicken breast

The nutritional value of both types of chicken is comparable as long as the skin is not eaten.

Food experiment conclusions:

  • Bone in skin on chicken is more flavorful and juicy.
  • Cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Use a dependable meat thermometer.
  • Let meat rest for 5 minutes before you cut into it.

This month’s Bon Appetit magazine has some terrific grilled chicken recipes.  Check out the following:

Barbecued Chicken
Beer-Can Chicken
Chicken Salad with Grains and Pistachios
Chicken under a Brick
Club Salad
Grilled Chicken Tacos
Grilled Citrus Chicken
Sambal Chicken Skewers




Patricia Rio
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