I will be the first to admit that I have said some less-than-kind things about chicken breast in the past. I stand by a lot of them, too—chicken breast is often dry, bland, or just boring. But chicken breasts are also versatile, affordable, and incredibly popular, and when treated right they are far more delicious than I've sometimes given them credit for. If you're skeptical, we've got 23 recipes to prove just how tasty chicken breast can be, from pan-roasted chicken with a bourbon-mustard pan sauce, to the ultimate chicken salad, to fried chicken cutlets perfect for weeknight dinners (check out the video below for tips on how to turn breasts into cutlets).
Easy Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts With White Wine and Fines Herbes Pan Sauce
Pan-roasted chicken breasts make for a weeknight dinner that's as elegant as it is easy. To cook the chicken all you have to do is sear the skin, flip the breasts over, and then finish in the oven until the meat hits 150°F. While the chicken rests you can make a pan sauce—here we use white wine and fines herbes.
Easy Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts With Bourbon-Mustard Pan Sauce
This recipe uses the same technique for the chicken, but the sauce is flavored with bourbon, whole grain mustard, lemon juice, and parsley. The secret to getting a thick, glossy, restaurant-quality pan sauce at home is to fortify the chicken broth with powdered gelatin, which helps emulsify the butter and water.
The Best Juicy Grilled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
At their worst, grilled chicken breasts have a consistency somewhere between cardboard and shoe leather. But grill them properly and it's a whole different story—these chicken breasts are juicy and flavorful. A big problem with grilling chicken breasts is their uneven size—pounding them to a uniform thickness makes them much easier to cook.
5-Minute Grilled Chicken Cutlets With Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon
Chicken breasts have a lot of flavor if you grill them right, but that doesn't mean adding a little more is a bad idea. Here we enhance the chicken with a loose rosemary, garlic, and lemon vinaigrette that we use as both a marinade and a sauce. Grill the chicken as soon as you coat it with the marinade so that it doesn't break down and turn mushy.
Grilled Chicken and Cabbage Salad With Creamy Tahini Dressing
Leftover grilled chicken doesn't exactly reheat well, so you need to get creative with it. Massaging it with olive oil and lemon juice and mixing it with tahini is a great way to make it taste like new. This salad needs freshness and crunch, so we also mix in cabbage, red onion, and a couple of handfuls of fresh herbs.
Sous Vide Chicken Breast
While you can cook tender chicken breast on the stove or grill, for the ultimate in juiciness you can't beat sous vide—the precise level of temperature control allows for textures impossible with conventional cooking methods. You can finish the sous vide breast by searing it on the stove, or you can use it in the recipe below (which is my favorite way to use sous vide chicken breast).
The Best Classic Chicken Salad
Cooked sous vide at 150°F, chicken breast takes on a juicy, slightly stringy texture perfect for chicken salad. Cooking sous vide also gives you the chance to add extra flavor—we like to throw lemon and tarragon into the cooking bag. As for the dressing, we stay classic with homemade mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and aromatics.
Chicken Salad With Avocado, Corn, and Miso Dressing
Here we use sous vide chicken breast to make a Japanese-inspired chicken salad dressed with miso paste, mirin, Japanese mustard, and shichimi togarashi. In addition to the dressing we mix in buttery avocado and nutty sautéed corn. Fun fact: you don't actually need a skillet to brown and sweeten corn—you can do it in the microwave!
Hot and Numbing Sichuan Chicken Salad (Bang Bang Ji Si)
Our version of "bang bang" chicken is decidedly less violent than the classic—thanks to the magic of sous vide the chicken is plenty of tender even without pounding it. We use the energy saved on the chicken to crush Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, sesame, and chili oil with a mortar and pestle to make the sauce.
Juicy and Tender Poached Chicken With Watercress and Miso Dressing
If you don't have a sous vide circulator (or a beer cooler), poaching is your best bet for tender, gently-cooked chicken. While most poaching recipes have you start with simmering water, we prefer to start the meat in cold water and gradually bring it to temperature. Once poached, slice the breast and dress it with the watercress and miso vinaigrette.
Easy Breaded Fried Chicken Cutlets
Breaded fried chicken cutlets might sound like a project, but this recipe is plenty easy for a weeknight. Start with chicken breasts cut and pounded into thin cutlets, dredge them in flour, then dip them in beaten eggs and coat with a mixture of panko and Parmesan before frying. You can cook the cutlets in vegetable oil, but clarified butter gives them a wonderfully rich, nutty flavor.
Chicken Piccata (Fried Chicken Cutlets With Lemon-Butter Pan Sauce)
If you're not going to fry your chicken cutlets in clarified butter, the next best thing is to serve them with a buttery sauce. The sauce for chicken piccata fits the bill perfectly—we make it with white wine, capers, and plenty of butter. Simmer the sauce down just enough and it will take on a wonderfully creamy consistency. It'll take some practice, but if it breaks you can always whisk in a splash of water to bring it back together.
Our version of chicken katsu isn't too different from our basic Western fried cutlets, but we salt the chicken and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours—so the cooked cutlets will retain more moisture—and we skip the Parmesan in the breading. Don't forget to serve the chicken with plenty of tonkatsu sauce.
Katsudon (Japanese Chicken or Pork Cutlet and Egg Rice Bowl)
Whenever I make katsu I'm sure to fry up a couple of extra cutlets so that I can make katsudon the next day. The dish is made by simmering katsu with eggs in a soy-dashi broth and serving it all over rice. Soggy fried food might sound unappealing, but the breading soaks up tons of flavor from the broth.
Chicken Marsala With Mushrooms and Shallots
This Italian-American classic starts with chicken breasts dredged lightly in flour and browned in a pan, which are then served with a pan sauce made with Marsala wine, sautéed mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. As with our earlier pan sauces, this one gets its glaze-like consistency from chicken stock fortified with powdered gelatin.
Chorizo-Stuffed Chicken Breasts With Queso Sauce
One of the best ways to make chicken breasts more interesting is to butterfly them and wrap them around flavorful fillings. In this queso fundido-inspired recipe that means a mixture of chorizo, jalapeño, and onion (plus a rich cheese sauce on top). Want some more ideas? Check out our variations stuffed with andouille and rice, fig and manchego, and mushroom duxelles.
Slow-Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu Dip
Chicken cordon bleu is a relic of another culinary era, but here we give it new life as a party-friendly appetizer. Like the classic, this dip is made with chicken, Swiss cheese, and ham—the less traditional addition of cream cheese makes it more, well, dippable. Don't be tempted to open the slow cooker early or else you risk drying out the chicken.
7-Layer Buffalo Chicken Dip
This mashup appetizer takes Buffalo chicken dip and piles on extra layers—the base of chicken, Buffalo sauce, and blue cheese is joined by refried beans, bacon, pepper Jack, cream cheese, and scallions. To make the whole thing a little easier to dip we thin out the cream cheese with ranch dressing and the refried beans with hot sauce.
Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches
While we'd normally use thigh meat for fried chicken, Chick-Fil-A makes their iconic sandwiches with breasts. The meat comes out of the fryer remarkably moist because it's brined for a full six hours, which makes it almost disconcertingly juicy. After the brine the chicken is ready to bread, fry, and serve on a buttered bun with pickle slices.
The Best Chicken Parmesan
Chicken Parmesan is an Italian-American dish, but we give it a distinctly Southern touch by soaking the meat in a buttermilk brine. We coat the chicken in a mixture of homemade breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese before frying and finish with mozzarella, more Parm, and tomato sauce.
Easy One-Pot Chicken Tinga (Spicy Mexican Shredded Chicken)
To make traditional chicken tinga you need to track down fresh Mexican chorizo, which isn't always easy to do in the US. This recipe gets around that by omitting the chorizo and flavoring the chicken with browned vegetables, aromatics, and smoky chipotle chilies. While we're bucking tradition, try adding a few teaspoons of fish sauce at the end to boost the savoriness.
Chicken Vindaloo Burritos
"Fusion" is something of a dirty word in the culinary community, but this Indian-inspired burrito is delicious no matter what you call it. To make it, stuff a tortilla with chicken vindaloo, basmati rice, paneer, and fresh tomato and cilantro. Make a big batch—they freeze and reheat wonderfully.
Cashew Chicken Ding With Jicama, Celery, and Red Bell Pepper
Cashew chicken is a type of ding—a Chinese stir-fry of meat and vegetables diced into bite-size cubes. A good ding needs textural contrast, and here that means tender chicken, crunchy cashews, and crisp jicama. That last ingredient might sound weird, but jicama is becoming surprisingly popular in China.