Chicken breast gets a bad rap as the beige of meats. It's versatile but bland; the practical, diet-friendly choice, too often stripped of the flavor and juiciness that make a piece of dark meat so satisfying. But when it's cooked right, it can be just as tasty as any other part of the bird. Cooked sous vide, in fact, it can turn out more tender than any thigh meat you've ever had. There's a place for chicken breast at your table—and these 25 recipes, from pan-roasted chicken with bourbon-mustard pan sauce, to Chinese-style sous vide chicken salad, to butterflied breasts stuffed with Manchego cheese and fig jam, are on a mission to prove it to you.
Easy Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts With White Wine and Fines Herbes Pan Sauce
Pan-roasted chicken breasts are incredibly easy—just sear the skin in a hot pan, give the meat a quick flip, then cook it in the oven until it hits 150°F. For a perfect complement, serve it with a pan sauce like this one made with white whine and fines herbes—a mixture of parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives.
Easy Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts With Lemon and Rosemary Pan Sauce
Making restaurant-quality pan sauce at home takes a couple of tricks. One of our favorites is adding gelatin to store-bought chicken stock, which replicates the collagen-heavy homemade stock more commonly used in professional kitchens, resulting in a thicker, glossier emulsion. While white wine is a common ingredient in pan sauce, this version gets its acidity from lemon juice and flavor from woodsy rosemary.
Easy Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts With Bourbon-Mustard Pan Sauce
No change in technique here from the previous two recipes, but the flavor scheme is a complete departure: Sweet bourbon substitutes for wine, with whole grain mustard added to balance it out. We finish the sauce simply with a squeeze of lemon juice and a little fresh parsley.
The Best Juicy Grilled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Sure, we've all had grilled chicken breasts that tasted more like cardboard than dinner, but it doesn't have to be that way. For truly tasty grilled chicken breasts, pound them to a uniform thickness, brine them, and cook them on a clean, medium-hot grill just until they hit 150°F.
5-Minute Grilled Chicken Cutlets With Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon
To add maximum flavor to a grilled chicken breast with minimal effort, use a marinade that can do double duty as a finishing sauce. Here, that role is played by a loose rosemary, garlic, and lemon vinaigrette. Get the chicken on the grill immediately after coating it in the marinade—letting it sit can give it an unpleasantly mushy texture.
Grilled Chicken and Cabbage Salad With Creamy Tahini Dressing
Leftover grilled chicken isn't always the most appealing prospect. This flavorful salad recipe gives it new life by massaging it with olive oil and lemon juice and mixing it with creamy tahini. It gets ample freshness and crunch from cabbage, red onion, and tons of fresh herbs: mint, parsley, and cilantro.
Sous Vide Chicken (and the Chicken Salads to Make With It)
Sous Vide Chicken Breast
For the moist chicken breast of your dreams, sous vide is the way to go, allowing a level of control over temperature and timing (and therefore juiciness) that you can't get through any other method. Once the meat is cooked through, you can give it a nice browned crust by searing it on the stovetop or on the grill. My favorite use for it, though, is in one of the chicken salad recipes that follow.
The Best Classic Chicken Salad
To make the ultimate in traditional chicken salad, we cook our chicken sous vide at 150°F, adding lemon and tarragon to the cooking bags to start infusing the chicken with flavor before it's even dressed. Then we toss it with a mixture of homemade mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and aromatics. Because the chicken is so moist, you can use a lot less mayo than you normally might without sacrificing creaminess.
Chicken Salad With Avocado, Corn, and Miso Dressing
This Japanese-inspired recipe coats sous vide chicken breast in a light, creamy dressing made with miso paste, mirin, and a pinch of Japanese mustard and the spice blend shichimi togarashi. We throw in avocado for extra buttery texture and sautéed fresh corn for a sweet nuttiness.
Hot and Numbing Sichuan Chicken Salad (Bang Bang Ji Si)
This updated version of "bang bang" chicken requires no actual banging—no need to break a sweat beating chicken breasts when you've got the magic of sous vide to tenderize them. We dress the meat in a powerful sauce made with tingly-hot Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, sesame, and chili oil. And, while you won't be pounding any chicken in this recipe, we do recommend crushing the sauce ingredients with a mortar and pestle—it extracts the best flavor from the aromatics.
Chorizo-Stuffed Chicken Breasts With Queso Sauce
Even when well cooked, chicken breasts make for a pretty uninspiring protein all by their lonesome. A far more exciting preparation is butterflying and pounding the breasts, then rolling them around flavorful fillings. This recipe draws inspiration from queso fundido, stuffing the chicken with a mixture of chorizo, jalapeño, and onion, then cooking it in a cheese sauce made of sharp cheddar, pepper Jack, and Velveeta. Yep, that's right—processed or not, Velveeta has a smoothness that's tough to beat.
Andouille- and Rice-Stuffed Chicken Breasts With Creamy Creole Shrimp Sauce
Loosely based on jambalaya, this recipe wraps butterflied chicken breasts around a peppery filling of rice, andouille, and the ubiquitous Cajun Trinity of celery, onion, and red pepper. To give the dish the kind of richness that Louisiana cooking is famous for, we top the chicken off with a savory tomato-based shrimp sauce, flavored with Worcestershire and hot sauce.
Mushroom Duxelles-Stuffed Chicken Paprikash
Though making the mushroom duxelles to stuff the chicken is a bit time-intensive, your effort will pay off in delicious dividends. We first sear the meat in a Dutch oven, then use the same pot to make a paprika- and caraway-spiced gravy in which to cook the chicken rolls. You'll probably wind up with extra duxelles—try serving it on crostini for an easy, elegant appetizer.
Fig- and Manchego-Stuffed Chicken Breasts With Port Wine Pan Sauce
Here, we stuff our butterflied chicken breasts with nutty Manchego cheese and a homemade fig jam for a sophisticated Spanish twist. Made with fresh ripe figs, lemon juice and zest, honey, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper, the jam is simple to whip up on the stovetop. We finish the chicken in a pan sauce made with tawny port, cream, and mustard.
Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeño Popper-Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breasts
I love foods that are spicy and I love foods that are cheese, so it should come as no surprise that I adore jalapeño poppers. This recipe makes a meal out of the concept by rolling up jalapeños, sour cream, and cream cheese, flecked with garlic and Parmesan, in pounded chicken breasts. A bacon wrapping holds the rolls together while adding richness, and cooking them on a grill lends an extra smoky touch.
Soups and Stews
Easy Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup
For a chicken enchilada soup with more complex, robust flavor, we use a homemade chili purée instead of the typical canned enchilada sauce. Gently poaching the chicken in the broth used for the purée adds flavor to it while ensuring a better texture. But what really sets this soup apart is how creamy it is, thanks to both pepper Jack cheese and cream cheese.
The Best White Chili With Chicken
Texans might refuse to term such a dish chili, but whatever you call it, this smoky stew of white beans and chicken in a green-chili sauce is utterly delicious. We use three different kinds of peppers here: spicy jalapeños, earthy Poblanos, and grassy Anaheims.
Slow-Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu Dip
This dip turns old-school chicken cordon bleu into a party-friendly appetizer. It's made with the standard cordon bleu ingredients of chicken, Swiss cheese, and ham, though the addition of cream cheese gives it a more dippable consistency. The whole thing can be made in your slow cooker—let the chicken go for five to six hours (or until it's good and shreddable), then add the other ingredients.
7-Layer Buffalo Chicken Dip
There's nothing at all wrong with Buffalo chicken dip, but adding a few—okay, many—extra layers makes it something truly special. To the chicken, Buffalo hot sauce, and blue cheese crumbles, we add refried beans, bacon, pepper Jack, cream cheese, and scallions. Thinning out the cream cheese with ranch dressing and the refried beans with hot sauce keeps the dip free-flowing to minimize chip breakage.
Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches
Though thigh meat is usually our chicken of choice for fried chicken, you can replicate the ultra-moist breast meat used by Chick-Fil-A for their famous sandwiches by marinating the meat for a full six hours. The result is chicken that's tender, salty, a bit peppery, and ready for jamming into a buttered bun. With pickle slices, of course.
The Best Chicken Parmesan
Our chicken Parmesan takes a cue from Southern-style fried chicken in the form of a buttermilk brine, while adding extra Parmesan to the breading enhances flavor. We finish it by melting mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano on top of the tomato sauce—store-bought sauce is okay, but homemade is preferred.
Easy One-Pot Chicken Tinga (Spicy Mexican Shredded Chicken)
Chicken tinga is traditionally made with fresh Mexican chorizo, which can be difficult to find in these parts. Instead of tracking it down, we infuse the dish with flavor from browned vegetables, aromatics, and smoky chipotle chilies. The chicken is cooked in three stages: first browned, then poached, then shredded and finished in the sauce.
Chicken Vindaloo Burritos
This fusion burrito is stuffed with chicken vindaloo, basmati rice, paneer, and fresh tomato and cilantro. There are tons of ways to make vindaloo—our recipe is relatively light on the heat, which lets the array of spices shine. You can eat the burritos right after wrapping, toast them in a skillet, or even freeze them and reheat them later.
Cashew Chicken Ding With Jicama, Celery, and Red Bell Pepper
A ding is a Chinese stir-fry of meat and vegetables diced into bite-size cubes, and one of the most famous examples in America is the takeout staple cashew chicken. Textural contrast is important in dings—this recipe uses tender chicken, crunchy cashews, and crisp jicama, a Mexican ingredient that's gaining popularity in China.
Juicy and Tender Poached Chicken With Watercress and Miso Dressing
Traditionally, poaching entails dropping whatever it is you're cooking into water that's already simmering. We've found, though, that you get much better results by starting the meat in cold water and gently bringing it up to a simmer. Here, we serve perfectly poached chicken with watercress in a simple miso vinaigrette for a light, clean-tasting lunch or dinner.