Thin chicken breasts generally take 15-25 minutes to bake at 350°F. The exact time depends on the thickness and size of the chicken breasts. Smaller, thinner cuts will cook faster.
Chicken breast is one of the most popular cuts of chicken. It’s versatile, lean, and a great source of protein. However, chicken breasts can easily dry out during cooking if overcooked. Knowing the right amount of time needed to bake chicken breasts helps ensure they turn out juicy and tender.
Here are some general guidelines for how long to bake bone-in and boneless chicken breasts at 350°F:
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
– Thin cutlets or fillets (1⁄2 inch thick): 15-18 minutes
– Average sized breasts (3/4-1 inch thick): 18-22 minutes
– Large breasts (1 1/2 inches): 22-25 minutes
Bone-In Chicken Breasts
– Smaller or thinner bone-in breasts: 20-25 minutes
– Larger bone-in breasts: 25-35 minutes
The thickness of the breasts is the most important factor for cook time. Thinner cuts will cook faster, while thicker portions need more time in the oven.
Here are some other factors that affect bake time:
Size of the Chicken Breasts
Larger chicken breasts will require a longer cooked time than smaller pieces. If you are baking a full bone-in chicken breast half, it will take longer than baking a petite boneless breast fillet.
Bone-In vs Boneless
Chicken cooked on the bone generally takes longer to cook than boneless. The bones help insulate the meat and slow down cooking. The meat nearest to the bone will cook slower than meat on the outer edges.
Brined vs Unbrined
Chicken that has been soaked in a brine will retain more moisture during cooking. Brined chicken can better withstand slightly longer cook times without drying out. Unbrined chicken has less margin of error.
The baking time can vary slightly depending on if you roast chicken uncovered, loosely covered, or tightly covered. Covering helps retain moisture, while uncovered will result in more browning.
Chicken is safe to eat once it reached 165°F internally. However, taking it up to 175°F will result in juicier, more tender meat. The timing recommendation is based on 175°F.
Convection ovens can cook food slightly faster than regular ovens. If using convection, you make need to reduce the bake time by a few minutes. Always use a meat thermometer for best results.
Tips for Baking Juicy Chicken Breasts
– Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness. This helps them cook evenly.
– Brine the chicken in saltwater for 30 mins up to 4 hours before baking. This seasons and tenderizes.
– Preheat oven fully before baking. Use an oven thermometer to ensure accuracy.
– Place chicken on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. This allows air circulation.
– Bake at 450°F for the first 5-10 minutes to sear the outside. Then reduce heat to 350°F.
– Rotate the pan halfway during baking to ensure even cooking.
– Let chicken rest 5-10 minutes before slicing for juicier meat.
What is the minimum safe internal temperature for baked chicken?
Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F as measured by a food thermometer before removing from the oven. This kills any potential bacteria for safe consumption.
Can you overbake chicken breasts?
Yes, chicken breasts can overcook if left in the oven too long. Once the internal temperature hits around 170-175°F, the meat can start to dry out. Always use a thermometer to check doneness instead of relying solely on bake times.
How long does it take to bake frozen chicken breasts?
Frozen chicken breasts take between 50-60 minutes to bake at 350°F. The thaw time is built into the cooking time. Cooking from frozen requires about twice as long as fresh unfrozen chicken.
Should chicken breasts be covered or uncovered when baking?
For juicy baked chicken, it’s best to leave it uncovered or loosely covered with foil. Uncovered promotes browning and crisping of the skin. Tight foil covering can cause steaming which dries out the chicken.
What temperature kills bacteria in chicken?
Chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 165°F to kill potentially harmful bacteria like salmonella. Cooking to this temp destroys bacteria and makes the chicken safe to eat.
The Best Methods for Cooking Juicy Chicken Breasts
Baking is a simple, hands-off way to cook chicken breasts. However, other methods can produce even juicier results:
The high direct heat of grilling sears the outside while keeping the inside tender and moist. Use bone-in chicken for the most flavor and juiciness.
Pan roasting uses a skillet on the stovetop to brown the chicken, then finishes cooking in the oven. Browning adds flavor.
Gently simmering chicken breasts in liquid keeps them very moist and tender. The liquid could be broth, wine, or water.
With sous vide’s precise temperature control, chicken breasts cook gently in a water bath to the perfect doneness. Juicy results every time.
Cutting a pocket into thicker breasts helps them cook quickly and evenly. Marinate first for added flavor.
Flatten and tenderize chicken breasts by gently pounding them to an even thickness before cooking.
Cooking Juicy Chicken Breasts in the Oven
Here are some tips for oven-baking moist, delicious chicken breasts:
– Pound to Even Thickness: Pound thicker parts of the chicken so they cook evenly.
– Brine if Baking Boneless: Soaking in a saltwater brine adds moisture and seasoning.
– Use a Meat Thermometer: Cook to 175°F for the most tender and juicy meat.
– Allow Resting Time: Letting it rest 5-10 mins after baking allows juices to redistribute.
– Bake Uncovered: Covering can trap steam and moisture, resulting in soggy skin.
– Prepare a Flavorful Crust: Smear on mustard, herbs, oil to help browning and enhance flavor.
– Try Cooking on a Rack: Elevating on a rack promotes air circulation for even cooking.
Marinade and Seasoning Ideas
Marinating and seasoning chicken before baking infuses it with lots of flavor. Try these tasty combinations:
– Lemon juice
– Olive oil
– Salt & pepper
– Balsamic vinegar
– Olive oil
– Lime juice
– Chili powder
– Soy sauce
– Brown sugar
– Sesame oil
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
– Jerk seasoning
– Brown sugar
– Lime juice
– Cayenne pepper
Complementary Side Dishes
Baked chicken breast pairs nicely with these flavorful sides:
– Roasted broccoli
– Sauteed spinach
– Roasted carrots
– Fresh green salad
– Brown rice
– Roasted sweet potatoes
Slaws & Salads
– Kale slaw
– Greek salad
– Fruit salad
– Pasta salad
Roots & Tubers
– Mashed potatoes
– Roasted potatoes
– Sweet potato fries
Full Meal Ideas
Here are some delicious full meal ideas using baked chicken breasts:
Mediterranean Baked Chicken
– Lemon garlic chicken breasts
– Roasted red potatoes
– Greek salad
– Hummus & pita bread
Southwestern Chicken Bake
– Chili lime chicken
– Cilantro lime rice
– Black bean & corn salad
– Roasted peppers & onions
Chicken Caprese Salad
– Pesto baked chicken
– Fresh mozzarella
– Sliced tomatoes
– Balsamic reduction
Asian Chicken & Rice Bowl
– Ginger soy baked chicken
– Jasmine rice
– Stir fried veggies
– Teriyaki sauce
Baking thin chicken breasts at 350°F for 15-25 minutes results in juicy, flavorful meat when using proper technique. Pound chicken to an even thickness, allow resting time, and use a thermometer for best results. Infuse chicken with lots of flavor using marinades, then pair with complementary vegetables, grains, and salads for delicious full meals. Mastering baking times and following a few simple tricks will reward you with perfectly cooked chicken every time.