Boneless skinless chicken breasts are a healthy choice on your calorie counter, but they can often be dry and bland if flavor isn't added before baking them. Marinating chicken breasts partially tenderizes the meat and adds flavor. So how do you bake a marinated boneless skinless chicken breast? The key is to create a tasty marinade and bake the chicken in the oven until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It's important to not overcook chicken — this can result in dried-out meat.
How to Marinade a Chicken Breast Before Cooking
Marinades are simply a liquid-based solution (think soy sauce, stock, yogurt, oils, fruit juices, etc.) that are typically flavored with herbs, spices, or other condiments. Any meat you use — fish, beef, pork, or chicken, etc — are soaked in a marinade for at least 30 minutes and for up to two days before cooking. Generally, marinades keep the meat moist even after it's been cooked while locking in flavor. A helpful tip is to pierce the chicken breast with a fork to help the marinade soak into the meat itself.
There are hundreds if not thousands of marinade options but we've provided our simple recipe for making marinated boneless skinless chicken breast below to get you started. This is a great make-ahead recipe for the beginning of the week because it's versatile, and it can be added to so many different dishes to help make a complete meal. Cooked chicken breast keeps in the refrigerator for three to four days.
How to Cook Chicken Safely
Baking in an oven is one of the easiest ways to cook a boneless skinless chicken breast but you can certainly use a grill or even your stove top. Chicken is baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit although this is a little higher than normal baking temperatures so it's often referred to as roasting rather than baking. Roast the chicken for about 20 to 30 minutes — the time can vary based on the amount of chicken you're cooking and how thick the breasts are. The most important factor, regardless of time spent in the oven, is the internal temperature. The thickest part of a chicken breast should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Raw chicken may contain Salmonella bacteria so this is an important step to prevent infection. Another important tip to avoid foodborne illness? Rinse the chicken breast and pat dry with a paper towel. Also, do not prepare any other food ingredients on the surfaces that came in contact with the raw chicken before thoroughly disinfecting and washing them.
Simple Marinated Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts Recipe
Serving Size: 1 chicken breast
Prep Time: 40+ minutes (includes marinade time)
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2-3 teaspoons of rosemary and thyme
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about five ounces each), pierced with a fork
Step 1: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, herbs, mustard and garlic powder.
Step 2: Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag. Add the boneless skinless chicken breasts. Seal the bag and place it in a shallow baking dish.
Step 3: Place the baking dish in the refrigerator. Allow the chicken to marinate for a minimum of one hour, but no more than 24 hours.
Step 4: Once ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5: Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and place them in the center of a large baking dish. Discard the excess marinade. Bake the chicken breasts for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Safety Tips for Baking Marinated Chicken Breast
Containers: Use non-porous containers—food grade plastic, glass, stainless steel—to marinate food. Toss the plastic bag used to combine marinade and chicken breasts—do not reuse.
Where to Marinate: Marinate food in a covered container in the refrigerator. Never marinate on the counter.
Reuse Marinade? Never reuse marinade that has been used on raw meat unless you boil it first. If you'd like to use the marinade to top on the meat/poultry once cooked (before serving), set aside a portion of the marinade before combining it with the raw chicken.
Storage: Keep marinated raw chicken breasts in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Delicious Ways to Enjoy Marinated Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1. Make a rice bowl using a yogurt-based marinade. Combine cooked chicken with rice, roasted vegetables and lightly drizzle with a yogurt-based sauce.
2. Add a sliced chicken breast with ¼-½ cup cooked whole grains to a green salad for a complete meal.
3. Chop chicken breast and mix with cooked whole grain pasta. Add 1 to 2 tablespoon of pesto and combine.
Marinated Chicken Breasts Nutrition Facts
Determining the nutrition information for marinated chicken breasts depends on what you use for a marinade. Typically vinegars, stock, and citrus juice provide a minimal amount of calories while an oil or cream-based marinade will have a higher caloric count. In general, herbs and spices are high in antioxidants while sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, etc.) can add sugar and calories to your marinade. A yogurt-based marinade will add protein and in some cases, extra fat.
A 3-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast on its own provides about 140 calories, 26 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of saturated fat and 0 grams of carbohydrates. This serving of chicken breast also provides 13 mg of calcium, 218 mg of potassium, 194 mg of phosphorus and just 63 milligrams of sodium.
Cooking Boneless Chicken Breast FAQs
Are there any other benefits to marinating? Aside from the added nutrition you're getting from the foods you choose to marinate with and the fact that marinades help to keep the meat tender and moist, certain marinades, especially acidic types made with vinegar or citrus juice may help to prevent carcinogens forming in your meats. Carcinogens only form when you're grilling.
Do marinades have a lot of salt? Store-bought marinades are typically high in salt. The good thing about making your own marinade at home is that you can control the amount of salt added. If you're concerned about salt, use a low-sodium stock or soy sauce or avoid altogether and choose an oil or yogurt-based marinade.
Can you freeze marinated cooked chicken breasts? Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken breasts that have been marinated for four months. The flavor and texture should maintain during this time.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Breast, Meat Only, Cooked, Roasted
- Foodsafety.gov: Marinades - The Busy Cook's Friend
- Foodsafety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- USDA Food Safety Information: Chicken from Farm to Table
- UDA: Poultry: Basting, Brining, and Marinating.