Worst way to cook chicken breasts, according to one chef – eat this, not that!



Chicken breast is one of the healthiest lean proteins you can eat. Not only is it an excellent source of protein, but it’s also a great source of vitamin B, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and zinc.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that chicken breast, properly cooked, is delicious and super versatile. It works as a main course and is also a popular addition to sandwiches, salads, and soups.

Do you want to perfect your chicken cooking game? We spoke to Chef Yasmeen AlSawwaf about the most common mistakes people make when cooking chicken breasts. (Make sure to come back after reading this article to browse the 33+ Best Healthy Chicken Breast Recipes for Weight Loss!)


Season the chicken breast after they have already been cooked means the salt and / or seasonings and marinades won’t stick or seep into the chicken. The result? A chicken that is less flavorful and quite bland.

What to do instead: AlSawwaf explains that seasoning chicken breasts with salt and pepper, seasoning mixes or marinades before cooking is more effective than seasoning after cooking.

“[This way], says the spices have time to soak into the chicken and season it properly, “she says, preventing it from sticking to the pan, creating a nice golden color for the chicken breast.”

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Chicken in the pan

As AlSawwaf explains, the goal is to cook chicken quickly on high heat to lock in the moisture. If you start cooking it in a cold pan, the chicken will take longer to cook and begin to brown, causing it to dry quickly as it has been cooked longer than it should.

AlSawwaf adds that cooking chicken in a small pan – whether it’s cubed chicken breasts or whole chickens – means the pan fills up quickly. She describes this as “overfilling the pan” and explains that it will cause your chicken to cook because there is no room for the poultry to brown properly.

“This results in a mild white chicken that hasn’t had the chance to experience the Maillard reaction, which is the caramelizing and browning of the outer layer of a protein, which adds the intense depth of flavor we all seek in cooking,” says AlSawwaf .

What to do instead: AlSawwaf recommends a practice called “conditioning the pan,” which means putting it on the stove and heating it before adding the fat.

“The amount of fat that is added to the pan depends on the meat you are cooking and whether it has a natural marbling,” she explains. “Since chicken breast is a lean meat, we would need more fat than a marbled steak, for example.”

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Fried chicken breast pieces in a pan.

AlSawwaf emphasizes that the goal is to cook chicken as quickly as possible to lock in the moisture. Once the pan has heated up, place the chicken breast with the presentation side down.

“Bring the presentation page until it’s nice golden brown and properly browned. Leave it on while cooking without bumping it and let it turn golden brown undisturbed,” she advises. Once the chicken has developed this brown-gold crust, it will detach itself from the pan and can be turned over to the other side.

What to do instead: “When we sear something in a pan, we usually turn it once,” continues AlSawwaf. “Turning a chicken breast several times during the cooking process disturbs the heat of the pan, because every time you turn the meat on the other side, the pan cools down slightly.” So keep the chicken breast undisturbed on one side, flip it over when that side is done, and then continue on the other side.

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cooked chicken breast

According to AlSawwaf, to get perfect results when cooking meat and poultry, the thickness of the protein must be the same to ensure even cooking. Hence, leaving the chicken breast bulky and thicker in one area and noticeably thinner in another is a mistake as you will end up with uneven results. The chicken breast is dry, overcooked and sometimes even burnt in the thinner areas and raw in the thicker areas. Doesn’t sound very appetizing!

What to do instead: “The best way to ensure even cooking of chicken breasts is to pound them into butterflies or to an even thickness,” says AlSawwaf. Keeping and cooking a larger chicken breast as it is takes a longer period of time, which leads to the aforementioned problem of certain areas being overcooked or burned and others dry.

RELATED: 13+ Best Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Recipes For Weight Loss

Frozen Chicken

“Starting out by cooking cold chicken breasts, or worse, completely frozen, is a recipe for over-cooked and dried chicken breasts,” says AlSawwaf. “There is no escape, it will be 100% dry.”

By the time the heat in the pan is heating, defrosting, and then cooking the chicken, the outer layer of the chicken will be overcooked and dry. AlSawwaf adds that cooking frozen food right in the pan increases cooking time by 50% and requires more maintenance.

What to do instead: As mentioned earlier, AlSawwaf emphasizes that the goal is to cook chicken breasts quickly to lock in the moisture and end up with a moist, tender, and juicy chicken breast.

If you are working with a frozen chicken breast, it is best to let it thaw for 30 minutes until it has reached room temperature before cooking it.

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Slice the cooked chicken breast on a dark gray cutting board

We have arrived at the ultimate worst offense when it comes to cooking a chicken breast! If you’re unsure of how long to cook a chicken breast, it can result in over-cooking, resulting in dry and uncomfortable chicken breasts.

“If we followed the previous four points, we’d cover all of our basics to make sure our end result is a moist and tender chicken breast,” says AlSawwaf. “Overcooking chicken breasts is the worst mistake you can make because once you’ve overcooked it, it’s impossible to fix.”

What to do instead: After you’ve cooked the chicken breasts, rest them if you want to slice them before serving. AlSawwaf explains that if the chicken breasts don’t rest properly, it would waste all of your hard work trying to achieve a perfectly tender chicken breast.

“Cut into slices immediately after it’s done cooking [lets] Any juices that would have kept the chicken breast moist seep away and thwart the purpose of our efforts, “says AlSawwaf. There is no way to bring these juices back, so it makes all the difference that you are patient for at least five minutes.

AlSawwaf notes that it is common to be concerned about cooking chicken because we don’t want to risk it being undercooked – but as a result, it is often overcooked. “Having a thermometer to monitor the internal temperature is a surefire way to ensure your chicken is cooked to perfection without overcooking and drying it,” says AlSawwaf. “The optimal internal temperature of chicken breasts – and all poultry breasts – should be 170 ° F.”

Once it hits 170 ° F, take the chicken breasts off the heat to rest. “If you let the chicken breast sit for at least five minutes before slicing, the juice will be locked in and the chicken breast will be tender,” says AlSawwaf.

Here are some more ideas to cook chicken perfectly:



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