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boneless chicken breasts...how best to cook??

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I love boneless chicken breasts, but every time I sautee them, they turn rubbery. I don't have a grill, so that's not an option. I would like to make tender boneless breasts that I can toss into dishes - asian, italian - but I really have no clue how to cook them properly. Any one have any suggestions?

Thanks and happy July 4th!

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  1. you might want to consider getting a basic stove top grill pan. they're not expensive, and they're incredibly versatile.

    in the meantime, there are TONS of threads about cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/276885
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/554805
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/277457
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/372423
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/550046
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/398832
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/402142
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/285653
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/281339
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/479872
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610368
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/387260
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/374971
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/453573
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/285866
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/282492

    there were more, but i didn't want to keep cutting & pasting...and i included a couple at the end that focus on grilling, just in case ;)

    1. Get yourself a George Foreman Grill

      http://www.georgeforemancooking.com/p...

      1. You may want to try poaching them - that's what I do for chicken salad.

        1. Here's what I learned by trial and error. Make sure your chicken breasts are dry before cooking. That is, pat them dry with a paper towel before adding to the skillet. And use just a little oil (I use olive) to sauté them in, not a whole lot.

          Though living solo, I buy family size trays of chicken breasts when they're on sale, then freeze them in separate plastic zip bags. However, I'd notice fresh meat would cook better than the thawed, which would turn rubbery. Finally figured out it was due to the excess water from being in the freezer. Water and cooking oil don't seem to mix.

          1. A Calphalon grill pan is perfect for making "grilled chicken" for salads. Also, poaching them in various liquids help keep them moist. Sounds like you're overcooking them...check out poaching or stovetop grilling times online -- keeping in mind that if your chicken breasts are what I call Frankenchicken breasts, they'll take longer to cook...and sometimes it's better to cut them in half lengthwise to make them more even in thickness.

            1. Try brining them for an hour and them grilling them. I did this last week for the first time ever and they were perfection - even the kids commented on how moist they were. I used this recipe:

              http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/br...

              1. I love poached chicken breasts, and I use them in different applications all the time.
                However, to do them nicely, you must cook them quickly and remove, or that's when they get tough and stringy. I use different herbs and aromatics in the poaching liquid depending on how I want to use them. Cut the heat off and cover when they are still undone, then let the steam gently cook. Keep a very watchful eye, and don't ever walk away. Fill the sautee pan up about 1/3 the depth of the chicken breast, and then add your onions, garlic, celery or whatever and don't let it boil. A gentle simmer is all you need.

                I made these breasts for what I call red chicken flautas, and the breasts were so delicious they would make a wonderful meal with rice.
                http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@...

                3 Replies
                1. re: chef chicklet

                  I agree with MMRuth and chef chicklet. Poaching guarantees you will not overcook the meat. I suggest you poach in Chicken Stock for a little added flavor.

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    I tried poaching chicken breasts for the first time last week. It was fantastic! So simple, so fast and the chicken comes out so moist. I poached them in water (with a few added spices .. salt, garlic, peppercorns, onions) but next time I'm going to try it with chicken stock, like fournder mentioned). This is really perfect for shredding and adding to a salad, slaw or filling for tacos, etc.

                    1. re: aDashofSass

                      I just poached two Frankenchicken breasts (that I cut in half lengthwise) in 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1/4 cup water, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and salt and pepper. Came out great for my chicken salad for work.

                  2. If you want tender, cook on lower heat for longer periods. I usually use a non stick sauté pan with a tiny bit of oil and cook them slowly. Poaching is also a good approach to get tender chicken breasts. Also, get a meat thermometer, if you're overcooking the thermometer will tell you - I shoot for 160-165 with chicken breasts.

                    1. I sear mine quickly in olive oil/butter over med high heat, add a little white wine or chicken broth, and finish (covered) in a 325 oven for about 20 minutes. Always comes out tender and juicy.

                      1. Ok, from a simple girl who loves to cook and hates expensive pans. I will just save, great stuffed and baked in parchment paper. I can give you tons of recipes.

                        Chicken breast stuffed with feta, sun dried tomatoes, spinach and mozz, and topped with seasoning and baked in parchment with a light tomato sauce. Stuffed with fresh veggies, mushrooms and bread crumbs and baked with just a light wine. Easy NO clean up and NO work.

                        Pan fried with maple, and pecans and giner, just in a regular saute pan.

                        Marinated all day in a nice soy, brown sugar and garlic marinade and grilled on a "target grill pan" which I have had for almost 10 years and going strong or just in a pan on the stove, don't sweat the small stuff. Amazing flavor. Poached. My least favorite, but ok.

                        Breaded with pistachios and bread crumbs and baked. Very crunchy, moiste and perfect.

                        Marinade it lemon, olive oil, garlic, 1 hot pepper or red pepper flakes, thyme dried or fresh and pepper. Grill and pan saute. Great flavor. I bought a small grill for tailgates. 1 small bag of charcoal my grill from walmart has 2 shelves and cost 9.99. It works great for small dishes. I use it alot. 5 minutes and the charcoal is ready. Cook my chicken and can't ask for much more.

                        I am able to do my zuchinni on the grill, my potatoes in a pouch plus all the chicken so it is worth it.

                        Chicken rubbed with a spicy chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion bowder, pepper, paprika and then let set over night. Grill or stove grill or pan fry the next day and baste with nothing more than orange marmalade. Great flavor. Cut and serve over grilled polenta and sauteed greens. Tender, moist, flavorful, and great.

                        Same with oj, lime, cilantro, soy, garlic and ginger, marinate all day and pan saute but remember ... only till medium done. Remove and cover. It keeps cooking so don't over cook.

                        Let me know if you want recipes.

                        1. While I love to eat white breast meat chicken, I find that boneless, skinless are boring after cooked. Even if they are done correctly, to me, just boring.

                          I finally went back to buying and roasting chicken breasts with the skin on and bone in. I also marinate them in some sort of Italian dressing for a few hours. I then pat dry, lift the skin so I can slide a few slices of cut up fresh lemons under the skin. I salt and pepper and pop in a preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, until cooked. I let them sit with a foil tent over them to rest. After they are rested, I take off the skin and bones and discard the lemons. They are so moist and delicious and can be served a number of ways.

                          And trust me, I was cooking the boneless and skinless breasts for a couple of years, trying every recipe under the sun. They were still boring to me.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mcel215

                            i've come to the same conclusion, mcel215. just blaaaaahhhhhhh in flavor.

                            i really only use them when i pound the p-waddy out of them and make well-seasoned chicken piccata!

                            1. re: alkapal

                              me too alkapal. I love them pounded for piccata, but even more so when doing Ina Garten's Chicken parmesean cutlets on greens...yum!

                              1. re: alkapal

                                oh yes, thin and then I cut into scallops for piccata. Lemon and capers are chicken breasts best friends (white wine 2nd bff).

                            2. I make a very good chicken picatta with chicken breasts. Served with garlic angel hair pansta, it's always a winner.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                Nice choice.

                                I make them all the time and love them, from stuffed to grilled, just about anything. My lemon chicken is great with lemon basil, a lemon cream sauce and spinach pasta. They are just fine for me.

                              2. We use a lot of boneless chicken breasts. In the winter I sautee them in olive or canola oil in a pan; in the summer I grill them. To keep them tender -- especially if they are the very large breasts that one tends to find in the supermarket on sale for bulk purchase (i.e, 3 lb or more) -- I take a sharp knife and slice them in two so that they are 1/2 the thickness. That way they cook much faster -- about 3-4 minutes a side on medium high heat. I think that what makes them tough is cooking them too long, when you need to get the interior done and the outside has cooked thoroughly.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: masha

                                  The secret to me is to either pound them a bit thinner or you pan sear and then oven bake or grill but grill slower. Make sure you take out before completely finished, tend a few minutes and then continue to cook. They don't have to be dead, lol to be done.

                                  Over cooking is the number one culprit of bad chicken. Cutting a small slit in them and stuffing with some fresh herbs and cheese is a great way to keep moisture. Even some mushrooms, onion and herbs. There are hundreds of ways.

                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                    Agreed: Don't use a big, old, crappy breast to begin with! Pound to half-inch thick (max), use a hot skillet (pan sear), and don't overcook.

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      Cutting them in half lengthwise, as I suggested above, does the same trick. No need to go messin' up a pounding instrument - unless you have some anger or frustration to take out on the Frankenchicken. ;-)

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        No need for a pounding instrument. As Jamie Oliver says, "Use me fist ... got one on the end of each o' me arms".

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          I use an old Ford (long stroke), connecting rod (and I always have anger/ frustration to relieve). SO and dog leave the room as I pound breasts!

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            LOL! Hadn't thought about that....but I'd just as soon use a pounding instrument. Those Frankenchickens can be pretty scary. And Scar, I'm picturing you looking like Tarzan as you "pound breasts". :-D

                                  2. Yup, poach and use in a hundred applications.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      poaching is ok, but not a favorite but any means, sorry Sam. It is ok but have many other ways first.

                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                        So, if you are making chicken salad, how do you like to cook the chicken (assuming you aren't using a whole chicken)?

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Depends. If I have bone in/skin I will roast, if not I will season and bake my breasts usually. Never had a bad batch and always good. My cooking is secondary. With a child, family and 3 jobs. I cook around that. If I have time I may smoke it or may roast but if all I have is a couple of breasts in the freezer ... I will season and roast and then chop. But such if life. I do what I can and do the best I can with the time I have. The other day I grilled 3 extra breasts. I seasoned grilled and then cooled. chopped and made salad. It was great.

                                          I have poached and it isn't bad, I do that occasionally but not often.

                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                            It occurs to me that I use Ina Garten's method of baking the bone in/skin on breasts in the oven for chicken pot pie, and I've used leftovers for chicken salad. Particularly in the summer, I prefer not to have to heat up the oven, which may be why I tend to poach. I do think poaching is actually faster than baking/roasting though.

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              No, I agree, I have roasted when I have time or sometimes even poached. I usually have no time and may have the grill on and just grill 2 or 3 extra. At 11 pm which is sometimes when I eat, the less pans the better so I just grill and then save the leftovers. But. I do enjoy roasting bone and skin in for chicken, it makes a great moist chicken. My Mom taught me that 35 years ago, but don't always have the time to do it. Poaching may be faster but thta is another pot. At 11 pm, the grill is the easiest, pouches of some asparagus and potatoes and NO pots and pans but leftovers. But I understand what you mean. I like the oven best when I can. Just NOT a huge poaching fan, but I have, just not a favorite is all. But understand it does work and gives excellent results, please don't think I don't realize it is a good method. Just not something I do is all. It still produces moist tender chicken.

                                          2. re: MMRuth

                                            I know the "to each his own" caveat and all that... but if I can grill chicken, salmon, tuna or steak before it hits a salad, that's by far my preference; I just like the smokey flavor. As some have said, breast can be boring. Poaching doesn't do much to help that. Not that I would ever buy cheap chicken, but I would especially make an attempt to use a good quality, smaller chicken breast in a salad, where it is the center of attention.
                                            BTW, SO brought home two, whole, bone-in Bell and Evans breasts. I stripped them of their skin and then hit them with my big chef's knife to splay them out. I marinated them for several hours and then threw them on the medium heat grill with the breast skin laid on top. When I flipped them I basted them with the marinade, replaced the skin (now shrinking and crisping), and doused the skin with marinade; kinda like keeping them under a wet blanket. The dog got the skins and we had great grilled chicken.

                                          3. re: kchurchill5

                                            Its just that I usually work with whole chickens. Roast em whole, break em down for a hundred ways, ... I'm just not really used to using boneless (and skinless). If I have (boneless/skinless) breasts, I usually poach.

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                              I use whole quite a bit but rarely have time. Get home at 11 and get up by 6. Roasting just doesn't happen unless a day off. I work 6 usually 7 days a week. I agree with all methods roasting is my first go to if time allows.

                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                Roast is quick: buy, wash, drain, salt, and put in ref one day; toss in the oven (in the pan and rack it was on in the ref) some day a few days later. Hour and a half with draining and resting time.

                                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                                  I let mine marinate overnight in the fridge. Take them out at 5am when I get up. Pat dry, add slices of lemon under the skin and roast uncovered for about 45 minutes. By the time I leave for work, cool enough to put in the fridge.
                                                  Busy women all over the World. ;)

                                                  1. re: mcel215

                                                    And men

                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Yes, I'm tend to roast whole chickens for dinner, then use the leftover breast for chicken salad or crepe filling. Can't actually remember the last time I bought boneless breasts.

                                            2. Chick Casserole (a bit retro due to soup, but very good) Can be made a day in advance up to the dressing and butter.)

                                              Spray baking dish with Pam.
                                              Lay chick breasts in bottom of dish and cover with slices of Swiss cheese.
                                              Mix: 1 can cream of chick soup, 1 cup dry white wine, marinated artichoke hearts, sliced fresh mushrooms, sliced water chestnuts and dry or fresh thyme. Pour this mixture over chick and cheese. Cover it all with 1 bag of Mrs. Culbertson's seasoned stuffing and drizzle with melted butter or oleo.
                                              Bake at 350 for about 60 mins. If dressing isn't browned and crunchy, put under broiler.

                                              1. My favorite is chicken cordon bleu rolled in seasoned panko and stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham. I usually use prosciutto. Always a hit, always comes out great.

                                                If you only want to fuss a little, try Chicken Francese. A little bit different in that you flour first, dip in egg and then gently saute the wet chicken breast in butter with a little olive oil. Just go easy on the freshly squeezed lemon -- it seems to be very obvious if you use more than a tablespoon when making the pan sauce.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: RGC1982

                                                  Boneless, skineless chicken breasts are probably the worst single piece of the chicken. It is the most expensive, least forgiving piece and least tasteful. That said, I would strongly recommend pounding it out with a mallot which will make it a bit more forgiving when cooking. Grill it, saute it, do whatever, strongly recommend hammering it out.

                                                2. Marinate in tandoori spices in yogurt overnight then quickly roast in a very hot oven. You'll end up with easy peasy chicken tikka that should be slightly charred on the outside, moist on the inside and flavorful enough for a stellar salad.

                                                  1. Thank you all so much for your helpful replies. I would have responded sooner, but the reply screen wasn't working on my pc until today. The chicken breasts I use are pretty thin, as I buy the "schnitzel" type or cut them sideways if they're too thick. Sounds as if I've been cooking them too long and on too high a heat. I like the ideas of poaching and getting a grill pan. I will look into the calphalon grill pan as someone suggested. I also like the parchment idea and all the recipes that were included. Thank you goodhealth gourmet for all the links. I haven't been on the boards for a while and forgot to search. I use Ina Garten's roasted chicken breast recipe for those hefty bone in split breasts, although mine take longer than the 35 to 40 minutes that she recommends on her show. Delicious. But the boneless breasts cook up so much more quickly and sometimes, I 'm just too tired or hungry to make the bone in breast. Again, thank you all very very much for your feedback. I appreciate the help!