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How to bake chicken

Lynn Wright / 12 January 2016

Avoid dry, overcooked meat with our guide to baking tender, succulent chicken breasts in the oven.

Baked chicken and salad
Baked chicken is healthy and versatile

A great source of lean protein, a skinless, boneless chicken breast can make a delicious meal. But with their low-fat content, chicken breasts can quickly dry out when baked (or roasted) in the oven, resulting in dry, bland meat.

Try our method for baking moist, mouth-watering chicken in the oven.

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How to bake chicken

1. Chicken should be at room temperature before it goes into the oven, so take your fillets out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

2. Preheat the oven to 220°C /200°C fan/ gas mark 7, and line a baking dish with foil.

3. The thickness of your chicken breast affects the cooking time, with thicker fillets taking longer to cook while thinner ones become dry and leathery. So, if they vary in thickness, pound them with a meat mallet until uniform. If your fillets are very large and thick, you can cut them in half to ensure even cooking.

4. Brush the fillets with a little oil and sprinkle with some salt, pepper – and any other seasoning or herbs you choose – then lay them on the baking dish.

5. Place in dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Flip the fillets onto the other side – lightly brush again with oil if you wish – and bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked.

6. Transfer the cooked chicken breasts to a plate and loosely cover with foil. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Try these seven chicken breast recipes

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Cooking tip

You can avoid overcooking chicken breasts by using a meat thermometer to check if they’re done. Insert it into the thickest part of the chicken when the cooking time is nearly completed. 

Remove the chicken from the oven when the temperature reads 165°F/74°C. 

If you haven’t a thermometer, make a small slit in the chicken fillet and check to see if the interior of the meat is white and opaque, not pink.

Try these delicious healthy chicken recipes

Adding flavour to baked chicken

Chicken breasts can be bland and boring in taste, so why not add a little pizzazz with your favourite seasonings, spices and marinades? 

Lots of flavours work well with chicken including lemon, lime, olive oil, soy sauce, ginger, chilli, garlic, along with herbs such as oregano, tarragon, thyme, rosemary and sage. 

Season your chicken before cooking, or marinade for an hour or so beforehand. Alternatively, cook your chicken breasts in a sauce or stuff with cheese, spinach or other ingredients for a mouth-watering meal – remember you’ll need to adjust the cooking time appropriately.

Find out how to cook delicious chicken dishes with our collection of chicken recipes, including casseroles, pies, baked chicken, roast chicken and chicken curries.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.