Chicken cubes cook more quickly than whole chicken pieces, and can be used as the base for a wide range of healthy dishes, such as a chicken stir fry or a topping for a dinner salad. You can purchase boneless, skinless breasts -- the leanest cut of the chicken -- and cut them yourself before cooking. Sauteing raw chicken cubes over high heat cooks them more quickly and evenly than cooking a whole piece and cutting it later. Try tossing this versatile protein with fresh, chopped vegetables, or make a large batch ahead of time to use in dishes throughout the week.
Cut the chicken into 1-inch strips along the grain of the meat fibers. Then, cut the strips crosswise, with your slices spaced about 1 inch apart.
Season the chicken cubes with your choice of spices or a marinade. If you coat the chicken in a marinade, discard the marinade when you finish with it to avoid cross-contamination.
Preheat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Spread the chicken in an even layer on the bottom of the skillet. If the cubes won't fit in a single layer, cook the chicken in multiple batches to ensure even cooking. If you crowd the pan, the steam won't be able to escape, resulting in poached or steamed chicken.
Leave the chicken untouched to cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the bottom develops a light brown sear.
Turn the chicken with a spatula or wooden spoon to cook the remaining sides. Stir the chicken every 30 seconds to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking. The total cooking time should be between 7 and 10 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes.
Insert an instant-read digital meat thermometer into a chicken cube when the meat is opaque and the juices run clear. Remove from the pan when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the safe minimum cooking temperature for poultry.
Things You'll Need
Spatula or wooden spoon
Instant-read digital meat thermometer
While you don't need to check each individual cube of chicken for doneness, it helps to check multiple pieces at different spots throughout the saute pan.
Other types of oil can be substituted. Avoid extra-virgin olive oil, which has a low smoking point and can burn in a hot skillet. Coconut oil is well suited for cooking because it has a high smoking point.
- Foodsafety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- Purdue University Four-H: Cooking Meat and Poultry
- The Kitchn: How to Stir-Fry Chicken
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Pass the Taste Test. . . Use a Thermometer!
- University of Illinois Extension: Cooking Meat
- The Kitchn: How To Cook Moist & Tender Chicken Breasts Every Time