Americans are eating more chicken than ever -- approximately 60 pounds per person in 2012, according to Priceonomics, compared to the 20 pounds per person consumed in 1909 -- and the majority of that chicken is in the form of boneless skinless chicken breasts. It's not hard to see why: Boneless skinless chicken breasts are versatile and easy to prepare. They're also low in fat and cholesterol, high in protein, and rich in nutrients such as selenium, vitamin B-6 and niacin. Although baked chicken breasts can often be dry and tasteless, marinating them beforehand tenderizes the meat and adds flavor.
Marinating the Chicken
Whisk the following together in a small bowl to create your marinade: salt or a salty sauce such as soy or tamari sauce; an acidic liquid such as vinegar or lemon juice; a source of sweetness such as honey or sugar; a savory ingredient such as garlic or Worcestershire sauce; and your choice of oil. Plan on using about three parts of your acidic ingredient for every one part of oil. Add herbs and spices as desired.
Pour the marinade into a zip-top plastic bag. Add the boneless skinless chicken breasts. Seal the bag and place it in a shallow baking dish.
Place the baking dish in the refrigerator. Allow the chicken to marinate for a minimum of one hour, but no more than 12 hours.
Baking the Chicken
Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and place them in the center of a large baking dish. Discard the marinade.
Place the dish in an oven that's been preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the chicken breasts for 15 minutes.
Insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of one of the chicken breasts. Remove the chicken from the oven when the temperature registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Priceonomics: The Golden Age of Poultry
- National Chicken Council: Consumers Speak About Chicken Breast Meat/Breast Tenders - Survey Results 2012
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Breast, Meat Only, Cooked, Roasted
- EatingWell: How to Marinate Chicken
- NPR: Dinner's Secret Weapon - The Make-Ahead Marinade
- The Plat du Jour: Marinades
- Food Network: Marinated Chicken Breasts
- Foodsafety.gov: Marinades - The Busy Cook's Friend
- Foodsafety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- Cooking Light: The Hidden Sodium in Chicken