Like butter, eggs, and apples, chicken breasts are a household staple. Growing up, we always had chicken breasts in the refrigerator or freezer, because they’re a quick, healthy go-to food for lunch, dinner, and easy entertaining. With so many ways to season and prepare them, you’ll never have to make the same dish twice.
While we all love a great recipe, sometimes what we really want is a healthy one. So what’s one of the healthiest ways to cook chicken breasts? Baking, and here’s why.
Baking requires minimal to no oil, so, unlike pan frying, you don’t have to saturate your food in any unsavory ingredients. And aside from being one of the healthiest, baking is one of the simplest ways to make this popular protein. For one, you don’t need any special equipment other than an oven and baking pan (no grill or grill pan needed here!). And baked chicken breasts are fun to accessorize! Here are just a few ideas:
- Sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning
- Top with fresh spinach and tomatoes
- Marinate in lemon and olive oil
- Keep it simple with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs
Once your chicken is seasoned and baked, you can cut it up and add it to a leafy green salad, serve it cutlet-style with fresh vegetables, or slice it and enjoy as a filling snack. Leftovers make delicious sandwiches, like curried chicken salad or chicken with avocado and tomatoes. You can even freeze cooked breasts, so double up and enjoy a homemade meal anytime.
As always, opt for organic whenever you can. Refer to Turkey Buying Tips for the most ethical poultry-shopping practices. Then, check out our Healthy Chicken Breast Challenge!
- Thin out. Start with organic chicken breasts or cutlets, or carefully slice thick boneless breasts through the center, lengthwise, so you end up with 2 thin breasts.
- Trim down. Carefully trim any large pieces of fat.
- Get hot. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Season well. Place the chicken breasts onto a baking pan or dish. Season as desired or refer to a recipe.
- Cook through. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for approximately 17 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness. The internal temperature should reach 165°F. Keep in mind, if you choose bone-in or if you keep chicken breasts larger (rather than cutting them in half), you will need additional time.
- Cool it. Remove and let cool for a few minutes. If you’re freezing the meat, cool completely before storing.