Cooking Perfect Chicken | Inspiration on Monday

Posted 15 June, 2015 by Trish in In the Kitchen / 20 Comments


cooking perfect chicken

Image Credit: Steve Johnson | Flickr Creative Commons

I was racking my brain trying to come up with a topic for today’s Inspiration on Monday, and finally last Friday’s post about Chicken Piccata helped spark an idea. Though I’m not sure you’ll find much inspiration in this actual post–rather I’m seeking inspiration from you! Help a girl out, ok?

You see, I’m not sure I ever learned how to properly cook chicken breasts. If I need cooked chicken for a casserole, I was taught to boil/poach the breasts in a pot of water. This often results in stringy and chewy chicken without any flavor. Lately I just save and freeze the extra meat from rotisserie chickens to use in casseroles. When I cook breasts in the oven I often have the same chewy result and end up needlessly apologizing for dinner that everyone is suffering through.

Because chicken rarely turns out well for me, I rarely cook it. If you can believe it, I’ve only cooked it six times since the end of January. I’ve made the chicken piccata three times and breaded cutlets the other three. Sad, huh? Because of this, I’m determined to figure out the secret of tender and flavorful chicken.

I’ve gathered a couple of tips and tricks I’m hoping to try–let me know if you use any of these methods.

The Kitchn (I love this site) proposes that it can make any cut of meat tender and juicy by soaking the chicken in a quick brine.

Also on The Kitchn is how to cook moist and tender breasts every time. This method calls for cooking the breasts over low heat for about 20 minutes. (It’s possible this originated from Joy of Cooking?)

Something that I’ve already started doing is flattening the chicken breasts to an even thickness before cooking them. Of course I tend to do this by beating the ever living spit out of the breasts with a mallet (the girls think this is fun to do, too), but apparently a heavy glass works for pressing the breasts flat.

Upon a suggestion from Les, I’ve started buying Smart Chicken rather than whatever’s cheapest at the grocery. I’ve been so impressed with how much more tender this chicken is.

Though how to season chicken to make it really flavorful? I’m still at a loss.

What are your tips and tricks for making tender and juicy and flavorful chicken breasts? 



Inspiration on Monday

Welcome to the first edition of Inspiration on Monday! Inspiration on Monday is a forum to share things that we’ve created and things that we are doing to help inspire others. Posts about projects in progress, finished projects, tutorials, and how-tos are all welcome. Feel free to share recipes, crafts, lifestyle, organizing, and DIY tips, and any other idea that can spark inspiration.

Inspiration on Monday

Link-Up Rules:

1. Link up your post(s) below. This can be a recent post or an old post, but please do not re-submit a post you’ve already submitted for Inspiration on Monday.
2. Please link back to Inspiration on Monday or my blog somewhere in the post you are submitting
3. If applicable, please share the source that inspired you in your post. Credit where credit is due.
4. Try to comment on at least one other participant’s post. Encouragement can be so inspiring!

***Special Note: There are five Mondays in June so I thought we could have a themed Inspiration on Monday on the 29th.  Please share your organizational hacks you employ in the house, your car, outside, at work, anywhere! This could be something as simple as an extra rack in your kitchen cupboard to give more space or a method you use for curbing clutter. As always, you interpret the theme and go with it! I hope you’ll join (so I can steal your awesome ideas)***


What inspiration has struck you lately?


20 Responses to “Cooking Perfect Chicken | Inspiration on Monday”

  1. Oh lord girl no wonder you have problems with chicken. Never boil it unless you need it for soup. I bake chicken all the time but its usually already marinaded or in a sauce. Never plain. Yuck and gross. I freeze chicken in freezer bags with marinade to increase flavor. I also cut boneless breast in half to shorten cook time. Personally I think it helps with less dryout too. But my favorite way: crock pot with a marinade. Juicy, tender, fall apart yumminess. I also cut up into really small pieces and stir fry with some sort of Asian sauce and cooked rice. Add veggies if you insist. Ummm I could go on but will stop there. Lol

    • Half of the time I usually cook breaded chicken (with panko crumbs), but the chicken itself is still bleh. Do you spice it up at all before breading?

  2. Okay, I’m earmarking this one because I want to see others’ helpful suggestions. I tend to bake mine or use the slow-cooker to cook mine slowly, especially if I just want it for shredding for later recipes. I will boil it in a pinch but usually with some broth in there to add more flavor.

  3. only two comments. I don’t boil, I do poach for certain recipies,the trick here is to not over cook, poach only till you can touch t and it springs back, less than 15 min. My family unfortunaetly doesn;’t like sauces so it’s usually breaded and fried. I like the idea of soaking it in a brine, but that means I have to plan ahead, not too good at that. I’ve been stir frying it as well lately with all the lovely spring veg. around, so that means I’m putting it in a cornstarch and water bath for a short time. I’m doing orange chicken tues, will let you know how that works out.

    • Truth be told, I was never taught the difference between boiling and poaching chicken! How am I an adult? ;) And yes–if you have success with the orange chicken, I would LOVE to hear about it!

  4. SarahBeth

    We eat chicken a lot and I’ve enjoyed it a lot MORE now that I don’t overcook it. If you don’t have one, get yourself a digital roasting thermometer that has a long cord. You put this into the middle of the chicken (thickest piece), set it at 165 and you’re good to go. I never cook chicken (or any meat for that matter) by time anymore. We have one similar to this one: and while I thought Shawn was nuts for wanting to spend the money on it, I use it ALL THE TIME.

    As far as flavor – marinades are your friend – doesn’t have to be fancy – sometimes throwing some bbq sauce in a bag with the meat is fine for an hour before you throw it in the oven or on the grill. Or, you can make a super simple rub (I do this often) with some olive oil, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, onion, etc – whatever you have around.

    I also never boil chicken unless its for the cats. We also get our chicken (and all meat actually) at a butcher and it’s made a world of difference- much fresher and it cooks a lot more evenly.

  5. Recently if I’ve needed chicken for a casserole (or similar) I put 3-4 chicken breasts in the slow cooker with a carton of chicken stock. Cook on high for 3 hours (longer if frozen). The chicken is always moist and cooked just right. It’s easy to shred if your recipe calls for shredded chicken as well.

    Otherwise, if we have chicken we marinate and grill it. Sometimes for pasta, I will prepare sauce first and then put the chicken in the sauce rather than baking or pan frying it. The sauce keeps the chicken moist.

  6. As a veggie for over 20 years I have no idea how chicken should taste but I do cook it for my family and haven’t had any complaints (would they dare?). I keep it simple and put it in a frying pan with butter and a tablespoon of water. Then put a lid on and leave. It kind of steams it. The butter is probably the key…what doesn’t taste good when you add butter?

  7. I think the key to tasty chicken is sauce. If there’s a yummy sauce, then who cares what the chicken tastes like. Or my favorite, wrap it in bacon. Bacon makes everything better.

  8. I make chicken a LOT. I’ll bake boneless chicken breasts at 375 for 1h15m (electric oven). I’ll do lemon-pepper with an inch of lemon juice on the bottom, or slices of lemon on top/underneath. Or an inch of lime juice with bacon/garlic sprinkled on top. Or an inch of beer (it cooks out) with italian seasoning or dressing poured on top. I’ll also use beer as the base if I’m doing bbq sauce The girls will eat any of the flavors!

  9. Roasting is super easy, and both of these recipes from Smitten Kitchen have become staples in my house: AND

    I also really love this one, very easy, definitely a new favorite too:
    except instead of all those spices I just use a pre-made yellow curry mix, and if you don’t want to bother with thighs I suppose you could use tenders or breasts cut into bits too.

  10. We’ve been buying “young” chicken breasts, and they come out juicier than the sticker older alternatives. Also, we bake them in the oven for about 40 minutes to cook them slowly, they typically come out pretty good.

  11. I’m no chicken expert, but here’s what I’ve found:

    I learned a really great trick from an ex: after you use the meat pounder, take a fork and jab it repeatedly into the chicken – again and again in all different spots. This is sort of an “extreme” way to tenderize it, and it does make a difference, I’ve found. It sounds weird, but it works.

    Use high quality chicken – there’s definitely a quality difference between brands – it doesn’t always have to be the most expensive brand, but shop around and try different brands until you find one you get good results from – then remember that one and continue to use it. I’ve found a brand on Amazon Fresh that’s I love – and it’s not even that expensive! It’s called “Just Bare.”

    I echo everyone else’s crock pot recommendations – I’ve just started using the crock pot to cook chicken, and have been thrilled with the results – so tender and perfectly cooked!

  12. I have to echo some commenters about the slow cooker. I ALWAYS throw a few chicken breasts in the crock pot with whatever seasonings I have on hand or a marinade and cook for a few hours – 6 hrs on low usually works for me. I can then use that for whatever chicken recipe I want to make – soups, stews, chili, tacos, casseroles, whatever. Also, if you don’t already have one you may want to invest in a George Foreman grill. Slather some BBQ sauce on the chicken breasts in the morning and stick them in the fridge, then throw them on the George Foreman for dinner. It only takes a few minutes and comes out really tender and delicious with that yummy grilled taste.

    Good luck!!

  13. I agree with the commenters who said put it in the crock pot with some liquid; you’ll get perfect shredded chicken breasts that way. I also like to marinate them and then cook them on the grill, as it seems the quicker they cook, the less dry they turn out. For really juicy, flavorful chicken, though, don’t buy breasts–buy thighs. I buy the boneless, skinless thighs and they turn out wonderful every time.