How To Cook Chicken (5 Methods!) - Skillful Cook
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How To Cook Chicken (5 Methods!)

How to Cook Chicken Breasts! Our four favorite ways to prepare chicken breasts. Awesome on salads, in tacos and sandwiches, or as a meal!

Title image that says "How To Cook Chicken".

Chicken breasts are extremely versatile and there are thousands of chicken recipes in the world. One of the best things about chicken breast, though, is that you don't need a set recipe to whip up an amazing meal. Learn our four favorite methods of cooking chicken and you will never be stumped at dinner time again.

Five Methods For How To Cook Chicken

Watch How To Cook Chicken Breasts:

How To Bake Chicken Breasts

  • Temperature: 450°F
  • How long: 20-25 minutes
  • How to know it's done: Internal temperature is 165°F

Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

Raw chicken breasts in a baking dish.

Sprinkle spices generously over chicken breasts. You can use your favorite mix of herbs and spices or a store bought chicken seasoning. Add salt if it is not included in the seasoning.

Adding seasoning to chicken breasts.

Use your hands to completely coat the chicken breasts with spices.

Seasoned chicken breasts in a pan.

Bake chicken at 450°F for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breasts), or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165°F on an instant read thermometer.

Baked chicken breasts in a pan.

Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Allow chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Baked chicken breasts sliced on a cutting board.

Baked chicken breasts are extremely versatile and can be seasoned many different ways. Use your favorite spice blends and flavors to make these quick and juicy chicken breasts any night of the week.

Cooked chicken breasts on a plate.

How To Sauté Chicken Breasts

  • Temperature: Medium high stovetop heat/400°F oven
  • How long: 15 minutes total
  • How to know it's done: Internal temperature is 165°F

Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin or heavy skillet, pound the chicken breasts, focusing on the thicker ends, until chicken is even in thickness throughout.

Pounding chicken breasts.

Sprinkle chicken with seasoning mixture, adding salt if needed. Rub chicken breasts until evenly coated in spices.

Seasoning chicken breasts.

Heat oil in an oven proof skillet, such as cast iron, over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add chicken breasts and allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes on the first side, or until edges are starting to look cooked and chicken has a good sear.

Seasoned chicken breasts in a pan.

Flip the chicken breasts and transfer skillet to a 400°F oven.

Sautéeing chicken breasts in a pan.

Bake chicken for about 8-10 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165°F on an instant read thermometer. Loosely tent with foil and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Sautéed chicken is golden brown on the outside and juicy on the inside. Experiment with different seasoning blends and pair with your favorite side dishes for an easy, but incredible weeknight dinner!

Chicken breasts in cast iron pan.

How To Air Fry Chicken Breasts

  • Temperature: 415 degrees F
  • How long: 10-13 minutes (depending on thickness)
  • How to know it's done: Crispy outside and internal temp of 165 degrees F

Thinly slice your chicken breasts.

Toss the chicken with spices and place them in a single layer in the air fryer.

Air fry at 415 degrees for 10 minutes (few minutes longer if your chicken is thicker).

Let it cool a bit, slice, and serve on salads, in bowls, or right on its own!

Sliced chicken on a cutting board.

You can get our recipe for Air Fryer Chicken and other ways to use it here!

How To Poach Chicken Breasts

  • Temperature: Medium low stovetop heat
  • How long: 12-18 minutes
  • How to know it's done: Juices run clear

Place chicken breasts into a large sauce pan and cover with cold water by several inches.

Boiling chicken breasts in water.

Add a few simple aromatics such as carrots, peppercorns, salt, and bay leaves.

Adding aromatics to chicken breasts.

Cover the saucepan and bring the pot to a low boil over medium heat. Once water is boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow chicken to cook gently for about 10-12 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife.

Pot of boiling water with chicken breasts.

Remove chicken and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Cooking liquid can be reserved and added to soups as a simple stock.

Poached chicken breasts.

Poached chicken can be sliced, cubed or shredded. It's the perfect blank slate to add to soups, casseroles, or seasoned for enchiladas or tacos. Make a batch of poached chicken to shred and use throughout the week for lunches and dinners.

Shredded chicken in container.

How To Make Chicken In An Instant Pot

  • Setting: Sauté & High Manual Pressure
  • How long: 8 minutes
  • How to know it's done: Chicken is tender and cooked through

Cut chicken breasts in half to create smaller, evenly sized pieces. Season chicken generously with preferred spice mix, and stir to evenly coat.

Seasoned chicken breasts in a bowl.

Add oil to the Instant Pot and turn on sauté setting. When oil is hot, add chicken breasts in a single layer.

Chicken breasts in an Instant Pot.

Brown chicken for about 3-4 minutes, flip and cook on the second side for an additional 3 minutes.

Seasoned chicken breasts in the Instant Pot.

Add liquid to the Instant Pot to almost cover the chicken. This can be chicken stock, coconut milk, salsa, or even water. A simple jarred salsa is easy and provides lots of great flavor to the chicken. Here we used a roasted tomatillo salsa.

Salsa and chicken in an Instant Pot.

Place on the Instant Pot lid, set the valve to sealing, and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. When Instant Pot is done cooking, quick release the pressure. Carefully remove chicken. Chicken can be served immediately with some of the reserved cooking liquid or used for meal prep throughout the week.

Cooked chicken breasts from Instant Pot.

How To Shred Chicken

Poached chicken and chicken cooked in the Instant Pot is great for shredded chicken. To shred chicken, use two forks to pull the cooked chicken into shreds. Shredded chicken can be added to casseroles, soups, or used in the filling for enchiladas or tacos.

Shredded chicken in a container.

How To Cook Chicken Thighs

These methods for cooking chicken breasts can also be used for cooking boneless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs have a higher fat content and therefore, can be extremely flavorful. Be sure to cook chicken thighs to an internal temperature of 165°F.

How To Know If Your Chicken Is Done

The best way to know if chicken is cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and ensure that chicken is 165°F. If cooking bone-in chicken, be sure to avoid touching the bone with the meat thermometer when checking the temperature.

We'd recommend this instant read meat thermometer (affiliate link).

Our Favorite Chicken Recipes

Ridiculous Good Air Fryer Chicken

Instant Pot Coconut Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken in bowl with rice.

Sheet Pan Garlic Ginger Chicken

Roasted chicken, broccoli, and peppers on a sheet pan

Garlic Basil Chicken with Tomato Butter Sauce

Garlic basic chicken, spaghetti and sauce in a bowl with a fork.

5 Ingredient Lemon Chicken with Asparagus

Lemon chicken with asparagus in a pan.

Thai Yellow Chicken Curry with Potatoes

A small bowl of curry chicken on a bed of white rice topped with cilantro.

Skillet Chicken with Bacon with White Wine Sauce

Skillet Chicken with Bacon and White Wine Sauce

Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Casserole - with a homemade spicy sauce and lots of cheese. 400 calories. | #chicken #enchilada #casserole

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is a great resource, thank you!

    You can also shred chicken in a bench mixer and it is sooooo quick! Put the cooked chicken breasts (whole) into the bowl and beat the chicken using the beater attachment – a few seconds later you have perfectly shredded chicken 😊

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        True! In the Instant Pot, you don’t even have to get a separate bowl dirty—when the chicken has finished cooking, pour out most of the liquid and just shred with the hand mixer in the pot!

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Hi, Hendrick! The sauté and poach methods for making chicken should work well on an induction cooktop – just use cookware that works with induction cooktops. You can freeze the shredded chicken in any freezer-safe airtight container. 🙂

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    So this is great because we eat chicken like this every night. No lie. The kids like it and it’s a heck of a lot healthier than pizza. Again. But guys….the rolling pin. I love thin chicken for chicken parm but I can’t bring myself to roll it thin myself. Make the hubby do that. But he’s a hunter so nothing bothers the man.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, use the paddle attachment to shred chicken in under a minute with no effort!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Call me crazy but I watch QVC and saw them shred chicken during a Kitchenaid segment! I’ve been meaning to try it. Since I have chicken in the freezer, I may give it a try. Also, Jenna, there should be a disclaimer on this site – Don’t view on an empty stomach because now I’m really hungry!! Thanks, with a positive, upbeat sounding voice! Off to the kitchen.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you so much for this! As a vegetarian cooking for my meat eating family, chicken is the one thing I cringe at touching and hate cooking. I always err on the side of overcooked and dry!! This is a great resource and some great new ideas to try too!! Love it. Also loved your instant pot article recently. Love these “idea” posts.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Do you have a favorite spice mix that you use or suggest? I always struggle with coming up with a good seasoning!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am loving this how to series. Bringing it back to basics is soo great! Also loving the posts on instant pot!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Lindsay, Again, what can I say to encourage you & others to take a look @ the inherent cruelty of factory farming where 95% of the meat, poultry, dairy, is raised (?),
    If we simply look @ our health, chicken is
    probably the worst way to go.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Ruth my advice is, you outlive the rest of us and future generations will hopefully notice and put two and two together.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    What a GREAT post!! Chicken is either nice and tender or dry and tough. These recipes give super advice on how to achieve the former. Thanks so much for sharing your tidbits along with some really awesome recipes.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    My wife keeps asking me how to make chicken in different ways and was ECSTATIC as soon as I showed her this post! Thank you so much!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    This couldn t have been any easier! the chicken was so moist and tender, and the pan drippings made the MOst delicious brown gravy yum!!! ?? i used a 6 lb. chicken and cooked it on HIgh for 26 minutes then NR for 15 mins. after browning, i placed the chicken on the trivet to cook which made for an easy transfer out of the IP once it was done.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have meal prepped chicken every Sunday and in a variety of ways for the past few years…the oven temperature and time you listed is the magic combination! Super succulent even a few days later. I will definitely try your other methods as well. Thank you!