Curse you, boneless skinless chicken breasts~!! (what's the secret?)

I’m getting to the point of just giving up on healthy meats, other than fish, as chicken breast is so friggin hard to get consistent. I’m humbling myself asking for tips on friggin’ chicken breast, as too often it comes out dry/hard.

Tonight I marinaded the breasts (cut thin) in lemon, salt, fresh parsley, cooked on the stovetop ‘grill’ pan at medium high, reducing to medium. The first 4 breast pieces cooked relatively quickly to 160, I took them off. The other 4 seemed to take a lot longer to get to 160-165, and those sucked. Tough and dry. We’re all told that we should fear cooking chicken to anything under 165 but I’m getting really sick of tough and dry chicken breast, and I’m using good, organic breasts for it.

What’s the trick, other than sous vide?

My wife and I meal prep every Sunday, religiously. We eat about 8 or so lbs of chicken a week. We either dice it up and season and cook on the stove top in a cast iron, or I slow cook it and then shred it with some chicken stock and seasoning. Hope that helps.

Have you tried brining them?

I, too, would love to eat more chicken breast, but I don’t have the method down, apparently, as half the time it comes out tough and dry. You dice it up THEN cook it?

I don’t have the same issue with slow cooking and shredding it - that typically works out great - but just grilling chicken breast on the stovetop simply isn’t reliable to me. I want to get it right!

Today’s marinade had some salt in it, and a lot of lemon juice - not quite a ‘brine’ but at least citric acid and SOME salt.

With the first round that cooked more quickly being quite good, and the rest that seemed to take longer being all crappy, I’m not sure what to do - they were all on the same pan at the same time.

I dice it, then season it, then cook it. Smaller surface area allows you to control the cooking easier so you don’t over or under cook.

I’ll definitely try that next time…or slice it and cook it fajita style

Toss whole breasts in a plastic bag with Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Steak or Blackened Redfish Magic. Heat a Cast iron pan to smoking, add chicen for 1-1/2 minute, then flip and put pan in a 350° oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove breasts from pan and let rest for a few minutes. Slice thin. They will be juicy and tender. I make this at least once a week for our Caesar Salads.

Yep, let me know how it works out. I use the cast iron too so it helps with the flavor. I typically cook anywhere from 5-10lbs in the beginning of the week and then do a different flavor the next week. Doesn’t include the other proteins we eat either during the week. Not sure what’s the more expensive hobby, the gym and eating right or wine!

Eat thighs, not breasts. Problem solved!


Or, dry brine with 50:50 salt to brown sugar. 1 TBS per pound for six hours.

No offense Todd, but Carrie and I are going to have left over Chicken Piccata tonight. We’ve been enjoying it every Sunday/Monday for about a month. Never saw her stick a thermometer in any of the chicken breasts. She breads them and cooks them in some olive oil and sweet butter, checking if they are close to being done by touch. When done enough, she slices the breasts and cooks them some more adding the lemon, capers and chicken stock. Always good.

On the other hand, my mom used to overcook everything. Not a problem. Find a sauce you like, take the over cooked meat and let it suck up the sauce. I was brought up breaking my pork chops into pieces and dunking them into BBQ or other sauce. They sure sucked up the sauce.

Our moms were of similar culinary skill, it would seem.

Ask her (she’s right across from you, I know, with your laptop lids touching) what the trick is with the piccata! probably only cooks them to 150 degrees, the friggin’ rebel.

Forgive me for not reading through the thread but if you’re cooking chicken breasts to that temp you’ve gone 10+ degrees too far in my opinion. 150 and you’re done. Also dry brine them with salt the day before or at least and hour before if you can. And use enough fat in the pan to cook them in so they retain some dignity. To me bone-in and skin on breasts are the way to go if I’m forced to eat white meat. You can always carve the meat away from the bone afterwards. Plus a little bit of skin won’t kill you.

As an aside, I still don’t get the demonization of dark meat. How is it any worse than eating the white meat!? The extra fat is negligible at best but the collagen that breaks down to gelatin to give you moist, juicy meat is infinitely greater than the white meat. Oh, it’s also much tastier too. Just my 2 shekels.

Hey we’re playing battleship. It isn’t a trick, I saute them then take them out of the pan, add sweet butter, capers, chic stock, fresh squeezed lemon and slice the chicken and put it back in the pan to finish. It has never been dry, ever. I buy the thinly cut organic chic breasts and use them for fajitas and other recipes too, never dry. What the heck are you doing, must be over cooking them or your culinary skills aren’t as good as you think :wink: Don’t believe all the internal temp recommendations because they often end up overdone. Have you ever looked at the charts that use your hand to tell how meats & poultry feel when they are to temp?

Thigh meat - more flavorful, more forgiving and cheaper.

I’d MUCH prefer to do thighs but I have to cook for 4, and 3 of the 4 don’t want thighs. MUCH easier to get great results, I know. The only time I can get away with it is coq au vin

150 degrees WOULD be much better, but there’s all this scare about 165 degrees on chicken…

I buy a bunch of skinless breasts when they are on sale or BOGO and put them in vacuum bags with olive oil, garlic, salt/pepper, white wine and some type of mixed herbs (the large containers of dried Italian or Herbs de Provence (and a squirt of dijon) work in a pinch. Seal them tight in a foodsaver and freeze them with a date on the pack. Pull a pack out in the AM and they defrost in the fridge that day. You could Sous vide, but I pan sear (oil is already included) under high heat in an oven proof all-clad till bottom is golden and they release from the pan. Then flip over, add any desired veggies & brown for a minute or 2, then put the pan on a high rack in a 250F oven for approx. 10 minutes (you can check internal temps or wait till juices run clear). Always comes out quite tender and juicy! Easy setup that marinates as it defrosts in the fridge. You can always add extra white or rose wine and butter (if desired) to the pan juices and make a quick jus if you skip the veggies.

Can also do fresh if you want to cook them that day and marinate for a few hours first. The vacuum helps that along.


Seems like it’s common to sear in pan and finish in oven, like I do with my steaks? Quite a variance of temperatures of the oven for the 10 minutes, though…

Poaching or steaming (moist environment) is more forgiving and results in a pretty bland chunk of protein, but the finishing seasonings or sauces are endless. I would steam over some sliced ginger, garlic and green onions (the 3 Gs, I call them - love them in marinades, sauces, dressings, etc.) and make a dipping sauce or dressing, serve over rice, in a salad or saute. Go crazy.