Chicken has been gaining in popularity. In fact, chicken now outranks all other animal proteins -- beef, pork, or turkey and others -- in overall consumption. When shopping for chicken, look for pasture-raised, certified organic chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a dieter's best friend and an excellent source of lean protein. One four-ounce serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast contains 133 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 23 grams of protein. It’s considered a high-quality protein -- meaning, that it provides all eight of the essential amino acids. Because chicken breasts are low in fat, they can dry out quickly if cooked using a dry-heat method such as baking.
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Six Steps to Baking the Perfect Chicken Breast
Things You'll Need
• Baking dish • Meat thermometer • Basting brush • Foil • Olive oil • Chicken breast(s) • Salt, pepper and other seasonings of choice • Sauce (optional)
Step 1: Preheat the Oven
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Make Sure Chicken Breasts Have the Same Thickness
If your chicken breasts are different thicknesses, pound them using a meat mallet until they are roughly the same thickness. The thickness affects the cooking time of your meat, and baking chicken breasts until the thicker ones are cooked can leave the thinner breasts dried out and leathery.
Step 3: Add Chicken Breasts to the Baking Dish
Brush the pan with olive oil. Place the boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the baking dish; brush them with olive oil. The olive oil creates a brown, slightly crispy outside that keeps the chicken moist.
Step 4: Season the Chicken Breasts
Rub your seasonings on the chicken. Lemon pepper, a barbecue dry rub or a garlic herb seasoning are all good choices.
Step 5: Bake the Chicken Breasts in the Oven
Cover your baking pan with foil and bake the chicken for about 20 minutes. You can add sauce if you so desire -- barbecue, marinara, garlic wine and so on. Brush it generously over the chicken, and bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes with the pan uncovered.
Step 6: Check the Temperature of the Chicken Breasts
Take the chicken out of the oven, and insert a thermometer into its thickest part. The chicken is ready when it registers an internal temperature of 165 F on the thermometer.
Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken Breasts
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 to 30 minutes Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast 2 cups of barbecue sauce (homemade or store-bought) Olive oil, salt and pepper
Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 375 F. 2. If your chicken breasts are different thicknesses, pound them using a meat mallet until they are roughly the same thickness. 3. Brush the pan with olive oil. Place the boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the baking dish; brush them with olive oil. 4. Rub salt and pepper on the chicken. 5. Cover your baking pan with foil and bake the chicken for about 20 minutes. Brush the breasts generously with the barbecue sauce. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. Cooking times will vary based on the thickness of the chicken breasts. The chicken is done when it reads a minimum of 165 F. Be careful not to overbake.