Whether it’s tenders, tacos, breasts, or kabobs, everyone loves chicken. The average American eats a whopping 201 pounds of chicken every single year. Most people, especially those looking for a healthier diet, prefer chicken breast to other kinds of meat because it’s a great, lean source of protein, and it’s highly accessible. Yet, this dietary staple is surprisingly difficult to cook correctly and often times comes out dry and rubbery. So how long exactly should you cook a chicken breast?

Chicken breast loses its juiciness and appetizing texture when it’s overcooked. How long you need to cook your chicken breast largely depends on the size and thickness of the breast and of course your method of cooking.

Also, try this easy weeknight Chicken Parmesan recipe.

how long to cook a chicken breast

In the oven: Bake or roast chicken at 375ºF for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness.

In the skillet: Chicken will need approximately 6 minutes per side when sautéing on high heat. Allow 8 to 10 minutes per side when sautéing at medium or low heat. Adjust cook times for thicker cuts of meat, or cut breasts into cutlets for faster cook times.

On the grill: Chicken breasts will need about 6 to 8 minute per side when cooked over direct heat or 10 to 12 minutes per side when cooked over indirect heat. For faster cook times, consider cubing chicken breasts and making kabobs.

Deep frying: Heat oil to about between 350º and 356ºF. Fry chicken for approximated 8 to 12 minutes.

Other tips for cooking chicken breast

Rest meat: Regardless of your method, a meat thermometer will ensure your chicken is cooked to the precise temperature. The FDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165ºF. (Tip: Once it reaches 155º you probably only need about 1 more minute, so watch it carefully!) Once chicken hits 165ºF, remove from oven and let rest for 4 to 5 minutes before slicing or serving. Letting the meat rest, as with all cooked cuts of meat, will prevent all of the juices from running right out and resulting in a flavorless, rubbery mass.

Season well: Always remember to season chicken with a little salt and pepper, and olive oil if baking, sautéing, or grilling. The olive oil will help your seasonings stick to the meat.

Cook uniform cuts of meat: Uneven chicken breast thicknesses will result in uneven cook times—one end will be dry while another could still be raw. Place your chicken in a sealable bag between two sheets of parchment paper (important so you don’t get potential food-borne illness causing germs all over your kitchen), and use a meat mallet to pound chicken to an even thickness. A mallet also helps tenderize the meat.

Also see, Why you should never cook chicken in a crock pot. 

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.