Chicken breast is a versatile, lean protein that can be used in a variety of recipes. When a recipe calls for chopped or cubed chicken breast by the cup, it’s useful to know how much raw chicken is needed to end up with the right amount. In this article, we’ll look at how much raw chicken breast is required to make 1 cup cooked.
It takes about 1 pound of raw chicken breast to make 1 cup cooked and chopped. Since chicken breast shrinks as it cooks, you’ll need to start with around 1.25-1.5 pounds of raw chicken breast if you want 1 cup chopped when cooked.
How Much Chicken Breast Per Cup When Raw
When chicken is raw, it is more voluminous than when cooked. As the chicken cooks, the protein fibers tighten and the meat becomes denser. The amount of shrinkage depends on a few factors:
- Cut of chicken – Chicken breasts shrink more than chicken thighs.
- Bone-in or boneless – Chicken with the bone still attached shrinks less.
- Cooking method – Chicken that is pan-fried or grilled shrinks more than chicken that is poached or simmered.
Taking these factors into account, here are some general guidelines for how much raw chicken breast you need per cup cooked and chopped:
|Raw Chicken Breast
|Cooked, Chopped Chicken
|1 pound boneless, skinless breast
|1.25 pounds boneless, skinless breast
|1.5 pounds bone-in breast
As you can see, for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you’ll need 1 to 1.25 pounds to end up with 1 cooked cup. For bone-in chicken breasts, you may need as much as 1.5 pounds since the bones account for some of the weight but don’t shrink as the meat cooks.
Weight to Volume Conversions
Another way to calculate how much chicken you need is by converting the weight of the raw chicken to cups:
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast = ~3 cups raw, chopped
- 1.25 pounds = ~4 cups raw, chopped
- 1.5 pounds = ~4.5-5 cups raw, chopped
So if you need 1 cup cooked, chopped chicken, aim for around 3-4 cups raw, chopped chicken breast to start. This will shrink down to the needed 1 cup after cooking.
Sample Recipe Calculations
To make these calculations easier, let’s look at some examples using specific recipes:
For chicken salad, the recipe calls for 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken. To end up with 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken, you will need:
- 2 pounds raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2.5-3 pounds raw bone-in chicken breasts
After cooking and chopping the 2-3 pounds chicken breast, you’ll have the 2 cups needed for the recipe.
For chicken soup, the recipe requires 4 cups cooked, chopped chicken. To get 4 cups chopped, cooked chicken, start with:
- 4 pounds raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 5-6 pounds raw bone-in chicken breasts
Chop or cube the 4-6 pounds raw chicken breast, cook it, then measure out 4 cups for the soup recipe.
Chicken Fried Rice
For chicken fried rice, you need 1 cup diced, cooked chicken. To end up with 1 cup diced chicken, use:
- 1 pound raw boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1.25-1.5 pounds raw bone-in chicken breast
Dice or cube the raw chicken, cook it, then measure out 1 cup for the fried rice.
Tips for Cooking
To get perfectly cooked chicken for your recipes, keep these tips in mind:
- Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness so they cook evenly.
- Don’t overcook. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes after cooking before chopping or dicing.
- Use a sharp knife and cleanly cut chicken for nicely diced pieces.
- Chop cooked chicken right before adding to a recipe to avoid drying out.
Storing and Freezing Cooked Chicken
When cooking chicken in advance, here are some storage tips:
- Store cooked chicken in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3-4 days.
- Freeze diced or chopped cooked chicken in a freezer bag up to 3 months.
- Portion chicken into the amounts needed for recipes before freezing for easier use.
- Place frozen chicken in the refrigerator to thaw overnight before using.
Knowing how much raw chicken breast you need to end up with cooked, chopped chicken can make recipe planning much easier. As a rule of thumb, it takes about 1 pound of raw boneless chicken breast to make 1 cup chopped cooked. With bone-in breasts, plan on 1.25-1.5 pounds per cooked cup due to the bones. Weighing out the right amount of raw chicken and properly cooking, chopping, and storing it leads to perfect chicken every time.