boneless skinless chicken breasts prepared and ready to serve with honey garlic sauce

Secrets to No-Fail Tender Juicy Chicken Breasts

They’re convenient and, we’re told, more healthy. But there are few things quite as boring or more difficult to prepare well than boneless skinless chicken breasts.

raw boneless skinless chicken breasts on a plate and ready to prepare

Here’s the problem: Chicken skin helps to keep the chicken moist and the bones add flavor. Remove both and what do you have? The potential for dry, tasteless, tough chicken.

But not to worry. Here are two foolproof methods to prepare boneless skinless chicken breasts (BSCB) so they come out and tender and juicy every time—provided that you follow these instructions exactly.

Poached

This will be the method of choice if you are preparing BSCB for chicken salad or other recipes where you want perfectly prepared tender and moist, pure white chicken.

a plate of chicken salad on a bed of lettuce

  1. Place chicken breasts in a wide shallow pan, which has a lid, and add enough chicken broth (or a combination of chicken broth and water) to completely cover the chicken by an inch or so.
  2. Over medium heat, without covering the pan, bring the liquid in the pan just to the simmer. With a large spoon, move the chicken breasts around a bit to be sure each piece is completely surrounded by liquid.
  3. When the liquid just begins to boil, cover the pan, and immediately turn off the heat. Allow the covered pan to stand undisturbed for 45 minutes. Do. Not. Peek.
  4. Remove the chicken from the liquid (broth may be strained and frozen for future use). Note: You can use this method for chicken with skin and bones, both of which should be removed and discarded at this point in the process.

The chicken is now fully cooked and moist throughout. Use it immediately or store tightly sealed in the refrigerator for about 3 days to be used in any recipe—shredded, cut in chunks, or any way you desire.

Sautéed

This method of cooking BSCB will result in beautifully cooked, flavorful meat that is lightly golden in color.

boneless skinless chicken breasts prepared and ready to serve with honey garlic sauce

  1. Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness. You do not want them to be too thin, simply uniform in thickness. Place  between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap, or in a resealable plastic bag. Starting in the center and working out to the edges, pound lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan until the chicken is even in thickness.
  2. Mix 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
  3. Quickly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, so that they are just lightly dusted with flour.
  4. Heat a sauté pan that has a lid over Medium-High heat. When it is quite hot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons butter. Once melted, swirl the pan to coat the bottom evenly.
  5. Reduce heat to Medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for just about 1 minute to help them get a little golden on one side—not long enough to actually sear or sauté, only to heat them. Carefully turn over each chicken breast.
  6. Reduce heat to Low. Apply the lid. Set a timer for 10 minutes and walk away. Do not lift the lid; do not peek.
  7. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat. Still, do not peek! Reset the timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken breasts in the pan. Again, do not lift the lid and I repeat, do not peek.
  8. When the second 10 minutes are up, take the lid off and behold the wonder: Soft, tender, juicy chicken breasts that are not dried out. Check to make sure there is no pink in the middle, especially if the breasts are thick. To be absolutely sure your chicken is cooked well, use an instant-read thermometer to check (the chicken should be at least 165°F). Slice, serve and enjoy!

Honey Garlic Sauce

The most perfect way I know to serve sauteéd chicken breasts is with Garlic Honey Sauce.

Prepare four BSCB using the sauté method above. While waiting (and not peeking!) prepare the Honey Garlic Sauce.

boneless skinless chicken breasts prepared and ready to serve with honey garlic sauce
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4.75 from 8 votes

Honey Garlic Sauce

This is the most incredible, quick and easy way to serve chicken breasts that are seared and then simmered to perfection. Or salmon—fabulous!
Prep Time3 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time8 mins
Course: sauce
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 182kcal
Author: Mary
Cost: $.99

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Instructions

  • Place ingredients in a small saucepan.
  • Stir well to combine then set over Low heat and bring to simmer. Continue to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until sauce begins to thicken.
  • Once chicken breasts are done and you can peek, carefully pour enough sauce over breasts to coat them well. Turn to coat the other side in the sauce.
  • Plate chicken. If desired, drizzle sauce over chicken. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 506mg | Potassium: 48mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

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11 replies
  1. tina says:

    I have what may be a silly question. I have a gas stove so when i turn off the heat, it doesnt have any residual cooldown effect, are you cooking these on a gas or electric stove? That may make a difference in times for others. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Esther says:

    5 stars
    Thank you Mary for this sautéed chicken recipe! I had all but given up on serving chicken breast. With this new to me technique, I will be preparing/serving this at least twice a month. Thanks again!

    Reply
  3. Jenny Sonsalla says:

    5 stars
    How about showing us how to make that tasty looking chicken salad, please.
    Thank you for all the great hints and recipes. God bless you and your family.

    Reply
  4. Theresa Reed says:

    I also cover my chicken in yellow mustard before cooking, baking or grilling. You don’t taste the mustard but it keeps the chicken moist. My most favorite way is to cook the chicken in my instant pot! So easy. You tend to have to over season it though as I guess the seasoning fall off during the process. I can’t wait to try your recipes as well.

    Reply
  5. Darlene Ernst says:

    5 stars
    I have been sauteing my boneless breast fillets using your technique for a couple of years, now. I can absolutely testify that I’d rather have them than steak….they are that tender, moist, and delicious!

    Reply
  6. Beth Sherrill says:

    4 stars
    your methods sound great, but I have a third that is amazingly good and easy. coat a cast iron dutch oven with oil or cooking spray, put in your chicken, put the lid on and bake 45 min at 350. there will be broth in the pan, after cooking even though you didn’t add water. the chicken will be moist and delicious, you can even do the same thing with frozen breasts, just increase cooking time till meat thermometer shows them done, you should move the breasts around once they have thawed enough to seperate

    Reply

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