I will show you how to cook the perfect chicken breast, which will be macro-friendly and tasty, and which you can cook at home and regularly eat for your meal prep.
For years I was using the wrong method for preparing and cooking a chicken breast that it was commonly dry an tasteless, and as a result, it forced me to find ways how to cook the perfect chicken breast, which I will share with you.
The problem with chicken breasts is that it is too bland, dry and boring, especially without any seasoning.
I mean, you don’t want to be this guy.
The good news is that there is actually a simple, quick and easy method to cook the most juicy and tender chicken breast.
Benefits Of The Chicken Breast
In the health and fitness community, chicken breasts are extremely popular, for example, here is a breakdown of a store bought 130g chicken breast I purchased the other day:
- 180 calories
- 37.4g protein
- 3.4g fat
- 0 carbohydrates
The numbers suggest this is a lean protein source which is ideal for bodybuilding, retaining muscle mass, losing weight, eating healthy or simply budgeting your meal preps.
We can eat it with salads, rice, breads, quinoa and vegetables, and as a result, it is incredible macro-friendly because it is high in protein and low in fat.
While this is great to record on your MyFitnessPal, it should not mean you should suffer with a dry and tasteless chicken everyday.
Instead, there are ways to add flavour and tenderness, even with a basic seasoning and marinade.
Even if you are following a caloric deficit diet and worried about the hidden calories, don’t worry, I got this covered.
Here is how you cook the perfect chicken breast
In this example, I am specifically focusing on cooking a chicken breast without cutting it into chunks, and I will walk you through how I made a peri peri chicken breast.
Before you do any of this, remember to allow your chicken breast to sit in room temperature before cooking for around 20 minutes.
Step 1: Pound The Chicken Breast
It is common that the chicken breast you will buy will be uneven in thickness and this is terrible for cooking a juicy and tender meat.
You can season and marinate it all you want but ultimately if the chicken breast cooks unevenly, it will result in either raw or dry meat.
The reason why your chicken breast might be dry is because of the additional time required to ensure the thicker part is cooked which means you are overcooking the thinner layers.
Thankfully, there are a few solutions and pounding the chicken breast is a great start. Here is what you do:
- Wrap it inside a cling film or store it in a zip lock bag.
- Pound it with a meat hammer (or you preferred tool) and aim to pound it down to the side so you create an even layer.
Once your chicken breast is evenly flat, it is ready for the next step, however I need to mention another solution which is creating the butterfly chicken breast.
Another option is to butterfly the chicken breast
The whole objective behind the butterfly chicken is to ensure you have an evenly sized chicken breasts, however rather than pounding it down with a meat hammer, you can use a knife to slice it in half.
This is a great money saving hack too, if you have a big family for example, or want to cook more recipes, because you can essentially make two or four slices from one large chicken breast.
As a result, you now have a thin and even slice, which can cook for a vastly reduced time and will make your chicken taste juicy and tender.
Step 2: Seasoning and Marinades
The key to flavour and juiciness is from the seasoning and marinade. I got you covered.
You do not need to buy store bought chicken marinades because you can create your own at home with ingredients you most likely already have stored in your herb and spice cupboard.
You just need to nail the essential elements which are: fat, acid and your seasoning.
The additional element is sugar, which you can throw into the mix, but it depends on your diet because it is noticeable how many people are aiming to cut out sugar from their diet. Personally, I am comfortable omitting a sweetener for the marinade.
In most cases, the sugar used can be:
- Maple syrup
- Brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
Sugar is not essential but it is a great option for an additional sweetener or if you want to caramelized your chicken. Honey is a common option to produce a delicious glaze.
Create your own marinade by combining an acid, fat and your seasoning
If you search for a DIY chicken marinade recipe online, they will feature a combination of the following below.
You can do the same too by experimenting your favourite ingredients, because after all, taste is subjective, and you will most likely enjoy your own marinade.
All these elements will complement each other because salt and black pepper is always essential, while a fat is vital for flavour, but it is the acid which tenderizers the chicken by breaking down fibres, which consequently enables the flavours to settle in.
This is why, if you get your seasoning right, choose the right fat and combine it with an acid, you will have the perfect chicken breast.
For acid, you can plenty of options such as:
- Lime juice
- Lemon juice
- Rice vineger
- White vinegar
- Apple Cider vineger
- Djion mustard
- Soy sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
There are plenty of great options but I find that yogurt or lemon juice works really well, especially when combined with a spicy seasoning.
The fats you can use are:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Canola oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Vegetable oil
- Sesame oil
Most of these are cooking oils which can enhance the flavour. I frequently use extra virgin olive oil, especially with a chicken breast, because I find that is the beauty between a healthy fat and flavour. Sesame oil is also great if you want to combine your marinade with soy sauce.
Saving the best to last is the seasoning and we could be here all day naming rubs, herbs, spices, salts, peppers and so on. However, here are just a few you are already familiar with:
- Black pepper
- Piri piri seasoning
- Ground allspice
- Garam Masala
- Chilli Powder
- Dried oregano
- Curry power
- Turmeric power
- Mixed herbs
- Cumin powder
- Red pepper flakes
- Garlic salt
- Dried thyme
- Smoked paprika
- Ground ginger
- Coriander powder
- Mustard seeds
There are plenty of DIY spice rubs for the ideal flavour but I find it is worth experimenting with any seasoning you like to bring out the best taste. If you like your food chilli, you would tend to double the red chilli powder, but if you prefer it mild, you should emphasize on the mixed herbs.
What about the measurements?
If you want a marinade for one chicken breast, which is usually around 130 grams, you generally should aim for:
- 1 tbsp of cooking oil
- 1/2 tbsp of acid or 2 tbsp yogurt
- 1/4 tsp of seasoning
However, this is just a starting point because it can vary depending on your marinade, because if you might want more spice
Nevertheless, after you combine these elements and create your marinade, ensure you refrigerate it in a mixing bowl or zip lock bag, for around 1-2 hours. Personally, I like to aim for half a day or even overnight, just to allow the marinade to settle in.
Can you freeze the marinades?
You can freeze your chicken breasts with the marinades in a zip lock bag which an ultimate time saver, and from experience, it will still taste great.
Step 3: This cooking method always works
There are various ways to cook a chicken breast indoors but this tutorial specifically focuses using the hob; you can use a large frying pan, griddle pan or saucepan.
Five minutes each side, with a three minute cool down, is usually the ideal time.
Indoors, I prefer using a pre-heated large pan or griddle pan because it the closest thing to the BBQ, and it can be covered too but you can use a pre-heated oven on 180° c (356 ° f).
After ten minutes, you will know if it is safe to eat by slicing the chicken breast and visually spot checking the cooked meat.
Step 4: Use A Meat Thermometer (optional)
If you are batch cooking at a frequent pace, I highly recommend that you get into the habit of using a meat thermometer which can help you cook the perfect chicken breast, as well as being on the safe side.
The meat thermometer can measure the internal temperature of the chicken breast which can tell you when it is safe to bring it off the heat and is essential to the tender and juicy bite you are about to enjoy.
Place the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and wait until it reaches around 75° celsius (165° fahrenheit).
On a meal prep day, this can be handy when you have a lot of cooking on the ago, but on a regular cooking night, a meat thermometer is not actually essential.
This method never fails me and is great for weekly meal preps.
It took me a while to nail down the method to cook the perfect chicken breast but my advice would be to experiment when the seasoning’s and marinades because you could make your own secret recipe!