Have you tried baking chicken breast only to have them come out dry or overcooked? This post will show you to bake chicken breasts that are moist and tender with just a few simple steps. You’ll even learn how to cook frozen chicken breasts.
Oven baked boneless skinless chicken breasts is a healthy and simple ingredient that can be used in lots of recipes. It requires little hands-on time and you can bake large amounts at once, and store extras in the fridge or freezer.
There are many ways to oven bake chicken, but the most important thing is to not overcook, otherwise, you’ll have tough, dry chicken. Dark meat with bones is typically the moistest part of a chicken, however white meat can be just as tasty.
Juicy chicken breasts are possible in the oven with just a few simple steps. When looking for oven baked chicken breast recipes, it’s important to know the basics.
How to bake chicken breasts
Follow these easy steps for moist baked chicken breasts.
- Preheat oven to 325º F. Line large baking dish with foil (this will make clean up easy).
- Pat boneless skinless chicken breast dry with paper towel, and place in baking dish. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or other seasonings or your choice). Rotate chicken breasts and repeat for the other side. Let chicken sit at room temp 30 minutes.
- Bake 25–30 minutes (do not open oven until close to done as it will let steam out, no need to rotate chicken). This is for 4 to 6-ounce chicken breasts, smaller or large will slightly change the cooking time. Baked chicken must reach an internal temp of 165º F. with a digital instant-read thermometer. Be sure to not overcook or you’ll have dry chicken.
- Remove from oven and let rest under foil before serving.
How to keep baked chicken breast moist
The safe cooking temp for chicken is 165º F, however, it’s best to bake chicken slightly under this as it will continue to cook as it sits. I recommend baking to 150-160º, removing chicken from the oven, and covering tightly with foil 10-15 to rest. This will hold in moisture and continue to build up more heat, cooking to a safe internal temp while staying moist.
Key tips when baking chicken
- Bone in chicken breasts will be juicer, but boneless chicken breasts work just fine.
- Bring chicken to room temp, about 30 minutes, before baking for more even cooking throughout.
- Cook at a lower heat for longer to keep the chicken breast tender and juicy. Bake just until internal temp reaches about 160º F, then let sit under foil to cook to a safe internal temp.
- Line pan or baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.
- Olive oil keeps chicken moist and adds extra flavor.
- Salt is critical for enhancing flavor. Salt does not actually have a flavor; it brings out and enhances the flavor in meats. However, too much salt will overpower the food with a sodium sensation.
- Change baking time according to the thickness of chicken breasts. See section below for tips on this.
Thickness and size of your chicken breasts affects cooking time
If your chicken breasts are larger and thicker, they will take longer to cook. Smaller breast tenderloins take much less time to cook. The instructions in this baked chicken breast recipe are for average chicken breasts that are roughly 6 ounces, and about 1-inch thick. It’s best to have even thickness if possible, otherwise, parts of the breast may cook differently.
- Larger chicken breasts that are still 1-inch thickness should cook the same. Add 5-10 minutes for extra thick chicken breasts, about 45 minutes total.
- Thinner and smaller chicken breasts cook much faster, about 20-25 minutes total.
Time-saving tips for baking chicken breast
- Plan ahead and bring chicken breasts to room temp before you plan to cook, about 30 minutes, or do this while the oven is pre-heating.
- If not defrosted, you can cook from frozen. See below for tips on how to bake frozen chicken.
- Cut larger chicken breast in half to reduce thickness and cooking time
- Cook chicken breasts in bulk for leftovers, easy meal add-ins, or meal prep.
How to bake frozen chicken breasts
You can bake chicken breast from frozen, but need to add a bit more time.
- Preheat oven to 325º F.
- Place frozen chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet or pan
- Drizzle both sides with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pro tip: oil is critical in this step to add moisture, flavor and help salt and pepper stick to frozen chicken
- Place on oven uncovered and bake 35-45 minutes to an internal temp reaches about 160º F, then let sit under foil to cook to a safe internal temp.
- Note: 10-15 minutes cooking time was added for frozen chicken.
Baked chicken breast storage
- Refrigerate in airtight container up to 3–4 days.
- Freeze shredded or chopped pieces tightly sealed up to 3–4 months. I like to freeze in separate smaller bags for easy leftover portions.
Try adding extra flavors
You can flavor roasted chicken with different herbs. Try sprinkling on some dried herbs such as Italian seasoning, basil or oregano. Fresh herbs such as fresh rosemary, thyme, and tarragon also work well.
You can also add spices. Try garlic powder, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, curry powder and/or cayenne pepper just to name a few. Or go a step further and stuff the chicken by butterflying it (cut down one side of the chicken to create a pocket without cutting all the way through) and stuffing with mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh basil.
Sides to serve with baked chicken breasts
If you prefer gas grilling, this How to Grill Chicken Breasts that are moist and tender guide will teach you.
You can also learn how to make moist Oven Baked BBQ Chicken Drumsticks.
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How to Bake Chicken Breast that are Moist and Tender
- 4 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 6-ounces each
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, light
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 325º F. Line large baking dish with foil. Let chicken sit at room temp for about 30 minutes.
- Pat chicken breasts dry with paper towel, and place in baking dish. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or other seasonings or your choice). Rotate chicken breasts and repeat for the other side.
- Bake 25–30 minutes or until internal temp reaches 160º F. with a digital instant-read thermometer and chicken is no longer pink inside (the safe cooking temp for chicken is 165º F, but it will continue to cook as it sits).
- Remove from oven, cover with foil to build more heat and hold in moisture. Let sit 5-15 minutes before serving.
- Bringing chicken to room temp creates more even cooking throughout, but can be skipped to save time.
- Try adding extra flavor with herbs, seasonings, and spices such as Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, curry powder and/or cayenne pepper.
- Instructions are for chicken breasts about 1-inch thick. Add or reduce 5-10 minutes baking time depending on thickness.
- Lining baking dish with foil makes cleanup easy.
- If cooking frozen chicken breast, add 10-15 minutes baking time.
- Do not open oven until chicken is close to done as this will let steam out. No need to rotate chicken during baking.
- To save leftovers: Allow baked chicken to cool on a plate. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3–4 days. Store whole, shredded, or chopped pieces tightly sealed in freezer up to 3–4 months.
More recipes with chicken breast you may like
For more cooking tips, my guide on how to make The Best Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger teaches you tips on picking the best meat and ingredients for the most flavorful burger. You’ll also learn how to prep and cook it for perfect juicy burgers.
Products used for baking chicken breasts