How to Make Moist Chicken Breasts

by Jody Braverman

A chicken breast is turned while grilling on a barbeque.

Zoonar RF/Zoonar/Getty Images

Chicken breasts are a healthier alternative to dark meat and other types of meat, but all too often they turn out dry and flavorless. If chomping on a powdery piece of white of white meat makes you want to give it up forever, you should know that with the proper cooking technique, you can can have moist, succulent chicken breasts every time. Marinating the chicken breasts helps to tenderize the meat, and searing them over high heat on a grill locks in juicy flavor.

Trim the fat and tendons from the chicken breasts using a sharp knife. Trim the underside of the breast, too, to create a more uniform thickness. If there is a very thin flap on one end, cut that of as well. Save the trimmings in the freezer to make chicken stock.

Cut horizontal slits down the length of each chicken breast to create spaces for the marinade to penetrate the meat.

Mix your marinade using a two to one ratio of oil and an acidic ingredient, such as lemon juice, vinegar or yogurt. Oil helps coat the meat and keep it moist, and the acidic ingredient helps break down the bonds of protein, making it tender. You can use salt, pepper and fresh or dried herbs in your marinade, and diced garlic is always a flavorful addition.

Place your chicken breasts in a single layer in a baking dish and pour the marinade over them. Lift up each breast to allow the marinade to get underneath. Cover the dish with foil or plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. AllRecipes.com recommends marinating chicken breasts no longer than two hours, as they can become too tender and mushy. Turn your chicken breasts halfway through the marination period, if you desire, to redistribute the marinade.

Light your charcoal grill, or turn your gas grill to high for direct heat cooking. Online grilling and barbecue magazine Grilling Companion recommends cleaning and oiling the grates before they get too hot.

Remove your chicken breasts from the marinade and place them on the hottest part of the grill. Leave them there for four to six minutes, and then pick them up with tongs and flip them. Allow them to grill for another four to six minutes, and then check them to make sure they are done. You can do this by either cutting into the center and making sure the flesh is white through and not pink, or by using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. According to the USDA, chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the chicken breasts from the grill, and let them rest for two minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.

Photo Credits

  • Zoonar RF/Zoonar/Getty Images

About the Author

Jody Braverman is a health and fitness professional and writer in Seattle. She has been a personal trainer and yoga instructor for almost a decade and is passionate about movement and helping people lead active, healthy lives.