Idiotproof Chicken Breasts

May 20, 2020 | | | |
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4.7 from 44 votes

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Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are often dismissed as dry and tasteless, but this easy stovetop technique gives boneless, skinless chicken breasts an image overhaul, eliminates poultry cooking anxiety and produces tender, juicy chicken breasts every single time. 

OG blog friends and Dude Dieters, I hope you’re extremely familiar with this recipe, but I’m finally posting it here for easy reference for those who have yet to be introduced to the life-changing magic of Idiotproof Chicken Breasts.

To the newbies: This is unequivocally the most reliable and stress-free method for how to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts stovetop.

In just 20 minutes, you will be the proud producer of epically tender and juicy chicken that you can serve with your favorite side dishes or add to everything from salads, sandwiches and wraps to quinoa bakes and quesadillas.

By following the simple recipe instructions below, you will relieve yourself of “is it done?” anxiety and never again deal with the undercooked squishiness or overcooked stringiness of improperly cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast.

This is the first day of the rest of your culinary life!!!

The only tricky aspect of this technique is that it requires a significant amount of blind trust.

You cannot, under any circumstances, lift the lid on the pan while the chicken breast cooks. It will be tempting to peek, but you must resist the urge! I promise that when you finally lift the lid, you’ll have perfect chicken breasts.

GO FORTH AND CONQUER!!

p.s. I’m thrilled to report that this stovetop cooking technique can also be used to cook boneless, skinless chicken thighs! Simply add an 5 extra minutes of cook time, and an 5 extra minutes of covered resting time (that’s 30 minutes total time).

Perfect boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced on a cutting board

Idiotproof Chicken Breasts

Author - Serena Wolf

Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 persons

Ingredients

  • Two 8-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium and add the chicken breasts. Cook for 1 minute, then flip the breasts over. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for 10 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE LID.
  • After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the chicken sit, covered, for an additional 10 minutes. Again, DO NOT LIFT THE LID. Resist the urge.
  • After the full 20 minutes, remove the lid. Boom, done. (Your chicken will be cooked, but if you’re still nervous, you can check it with an instant-read thermometer to make sure it has an internal temperature of at least 165°F.)

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29 Comments

  1. Christine on May 24, 2022 at 11:43 pm

    5 stars
    May 24, 2022 – I used this method for two boneless/skinless breasts and they turned out PERFECT. Moist and a little juicy and cooked all the way through. This will be my go-to for cooking up some tasty protein. Thank you!

  2. Samantha on March 23, 2022 at 10:24 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve messed up so many chicken breasts before I discovered Serena

  3. Therese on March 22, 2022 at 7:46 pm

    5 stars
    Works like a charm every time! My go-to for cooking chicken breasts!

  4. Anne on March 22, 2022 at 6:41 pm

    5 stars
    Life-changing hack! I usually do a batch on a Sunday and dice to have for lunches throughout the week.

  5. Jacquelyn on March 22, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    5 stars
    Such an amazing method— super simple, with delicious results. Thank you!!

  6. Laura burns on March 22, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    5 stars
    I make this weekly – such a great way to quickly cook (tasty!) chicken for the #sassydesklunch

  7. Brooke Mazurek on March 22, 2022 at 2:59 pm

    5 stars
    My go to way to cook chicken!

  8. Kate on March 13, 2022 at 2:15 pm

    Great tips – thanks so much for your response. My lid does indeed have a tiny hole, and my breasts were probably a bit too thick on one end even though they were 8oz. I shall prevail!!

  9. Kate on March 13, 2022 at 1:34 pm

    I’ve tried this method 8 times now and my chicken is never done!!! Ends up around 125 degrees, and then I have ti cook longer on the stove top, which results in tough breasts. I’ve tried using smaller chicken breasts. Still underdone. Maybe the “low” heat setting on my gas stove is too low?? I so badly want this to work, but I can’t get it right! It must be user error since I seem to be the only one with this issue. Ugh!!! Will try again…

    • Serena Wolf on March 13, 2022 at 1:52 pm

      Oh no! I’m so sorry you’ve had so much trouble here. A few things to ensure and ways to troubleshoot here: First and foremost, the breasts cannot be over 8 ounces each, this is KEY. If they are much thick at one end (usually one end of the breast is thicker than the other–but in some cases it’s more noticeable), gently pound the chicken to even thickness. The lid must not have a hole! If the lid has a tiny hole for steam release, this method will not work. If all of the above are accounted for, it’s likely that your low setting is definitely too low, and I’d try a round with it at medium-low to confirm.

  10. Regina on March 26, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    5 stars
    Use this all the time!

  11. Martina on March 24, 2021 at 10:28 am

    5 stars
    This helps a lot! Thanks!

  12. Channing Childs on March 24, 2021 at 3:01 am

    5 stars
    Use this all the time! Thank you!

  13. Ally on March 24, 2021 at 2:56 am

    5 stars
    Gamechanger!

  14. Kelsey on March 23, 2021 at 3:25 am

    5 stars
    This method changed my life!! I used to never cook chicken because I either overcooked or under-cooked it every time. Under-cooked chicken is scary.

    This method it truly fool-proof! MOIST (sorry) and perfect every time.

  15. Sarah on March 23, 2021 at 2:23 am

    5 stars
    A quick and easy lifesaver 👌🏼

  16. Alison on March 22, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    5 stars
    Truly idiot proof!

  17. Katelyn on March 22, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    5 stars
    The best. The easiest. Literally the #1 chicken thing I do.

  18. Jackie on March 22, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    5 stars
    Changed my life! 10/10

  19. Kelsey on January 20, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    Truly idiotproof – so tasty and easy! The chicken was flavorful and moist and the cooking process was so easy. Making again tonight for the second (but definitely not last) time and had to leave a comment. Thank you for posting this!!

  20. Patty on January 12, 2021 at 12:35 am

    Well, I’ve managed to mess up idiot proof chicken. Checked temp after following all instructions and it was at 154F. 🙁

  21. JK on December 16, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Tried this last night and it worked perfectly. Is there any general rule for cooking 3 or more pieces or larger pieces (10 oz or 12 oz)? Add 1 minute to each step per oz?

    • Serena Wolf on December 18, 2020 at 4:01 pm

      I’m so glad the technique was a success! For cooking 3 or more pieces, there is no change to the technique (just make sure that the pan is large enough to accommodate more breasts without them touching each other). There is no hard and fast rule for cooking larger breasts unfortunately, but 60-90 seconds per extra ounce should work fine.

  22. Heather on September 30, 2020 at 3:02 am

    Is the timing the same for both electric and gas stoves?

    • Serena Wolf on October 6, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      Yes, the timing should be the same! For electric, make sure to take the pan off the burner completely during the last 10 minutes (when the chicken is resting, covered, off the heat).

  23. Casey on September 28, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    This is the easiest way to make chicken ever. I’m so sad it took me so long to realize this!!!

    • Serena Wolf on September 29, 2020 at 1:07 pm

      YAY!!! I’m so glad you’re on the bandwagon!

  24. Chelsea on August 6, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    So glad this is in non-video form and riiiiight up front now. Somehow I still have to reference it all the time even though I’ve made chicken this way a lot now…

  25. Kiara Sexton on July 8, 2020 at 5:44 am

    I still make this all the time. Many sassy desk lunches thanks to you.

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