Experts Share Just How Long You Should Cook Chicken Breasts

How long you should cook chicken breasts in the oven, air fryer and slow-cooker.

It’s not surprising that chicken breast is a go-to piece of poultry in many homes. It cooks quickly; it’s easy to prepare; you can dress it up or down; and coat it with an array of sauces and spices. Grill it, poach it, boil it, bake it, broil it—the choice is yours. “Chicken breast absorbs flavors well,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, RDN, founder of Essence Nutrition in Miami, Florida. “Americans love chicken. They probably always have since it became such an affordable and economic way to nourish your family."

Whether you're enjoying a roast chicken solo or adding shredded meat to sandwiches, salads, soups and casseroles, there's no denying chicken is a versatile staple. "You can cook it in so many ways just by using different cooking methods, marinades and seasonings,” says Jenna Appel, RD, LDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian. “It’s also typically kid-approved.”

Chicken meat is also nutritious. It’s a good source of the B vitamins niacin and B6, the amino acid tryptophan, and the minerals phosphorus and selenium, says Paula H. Mendelsohn, functional medicine nutritionist and owner of Boca Wellness & Nutrition Services, based in South Florida.

Yet, when it comes to knowing just how long to cook chicken breasts in the oven, air fryer or crock pot, that can be confusing for some. Which is why these food experts broke it down by weight and minutes so you're never caught serving dry or overcooked chicken again!

Related: The Best 'Marry Me' Chicken Recipe

How To Tell When Chicken Is Cooked

Use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken breast is thoroughly cooked, says Appel. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends cooking chicken at 165 F. That will ensure you kill all salmonella, which is an infection caused by eating raw or undercooked meat.

If you don’t have a thermometer, Appel says to look for chicken meat that’s visibly red or pink. “If you see any of these hues, the chicken will need to be cooked a bit longer,” says Appel. “You’ll know it’s fully cooked when the meat is fully white.”

How Long To Cook Chicken Breast in the Oven

Cook large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts for about 20 to 30 minutes on the middle rack in a 375 F oven, Cordell Robinson, private and celebrity chef, says. “The time frame depends on how you season, brine or marinate your chicken breast.”

Related: 40 Best Chicken Breast Recipes

How Long Does It Take For Chicken Breast to Bake at 400 F?

To bake chicken breast at 400 F, it should take about 20 to 25 minutes, says Sandy Wolner, RDN and culinary education manager for Pampered Chef’s Test Kitchens. That time may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken, she adds.

Is It Better to Bake Chicken Breast at 350 or 400?

Most chefs and nutritionists suggest cooking your chicken breast at 400 F. It will take longer to cook at 350 F, which can dry out the meat. “That is a high enough temperature to seal in the juices and the flavor,” says Wolner.

Related: 15 Best Baked Chicken Breast Recipes

How Long To Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan on the Stove

Stove-top chicken breasts are the most basic recipe of all. Grease the chicken breasts with cooking spray or olive oil. Then season with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and dried basil, says Mendelsohn. “My secret is caraway seeds, making my final product taste like it’s on rye bread,” she says. If chicken breasts are thick, she says to use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken into an even thickness before cooking.

Cooking time depends on the thickness of the chicken breast in a pan on the stove. Heat oil in a frying pan, add the chicken breasts and cook for two to three minutes or until browned, says Robinson. Then turn over, cover and cook on the other side for seven to eight minutes or until cooked through.

Another technique he suggests is putting the chicken in a preheated pan over moderate heat and cooking for about five to seven minutes per side. Larger pieces of chicken will take longer to cook.

Related: 33 Best Chicken Thigh Recipes

How Long To Cook Chicken Breast on Grill

The secret to cooking chicken breasts on the grill is the marinade, says Mendelsohn. She suggests getting fat from oil or yogurt, acid from vinegar or citrus fruit, and flavor from herbs and spices. Preheat the grill to 400 F. Use a grill brush to remove any residue. Oil the grates too, to prevent sticking.

Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breast. For boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooking time is about five to six minutes per side, says Robinson. He suggests cooking chicken breast over direct heat until 165 F and using an instant thermometer, says Robinson.

Related: 7 Easy Marinades for Chicken

How Long To Cook Chicken Breast in an Instant Pot

How long you cook chicken breast in the Instant Pot depends on the setting you select and the chicken’s weight, says Wolner. She says one pound of chicken will take about five minutes. She suggests using the sous vide setting. “In my opinion, this is hands down the best way to cook chicken,” she says. “It takes a little longer than traditional methods, but the low and slow cooking helps keep the chicken ultra-moist and juicy. And you can walk away and come back after the timer is up.” She says it will take 90 minutes and you can also leave the chicken in for up to two hours until mealtime.

Related: 19 Best Sous Vide Recipes

How Long To Cook Chicken Breast in a Crock Pot

Cook chicken breast for approximately six to seven hours on low or three to four hours on high in a slow cooker or crock pot. Chicken may come out drier when cooked on high, so Appel recommends cooking on low.

And remember to think about what happens after it’s cooked. “The trick after it’s cooked (checking again for that signature 165 degrees inside) is to let the chicken rest before serving,” says Mendelsohn. That prevents the meat from drying out.

How Long To Cook Chicken Breast in an Air Fryer

In an air fryer, place chicken breasts in the basket or standing against the sides of it, says Mendelsohn. Brush chicken with butter or spray with olive oil. Then season with salt, pepper and garlic powder, she says.

Cooking time varies based on the size of the chicken breasts. Below are some approximate times from Appel and Robinson:

  • 5-7 oz: 7 to 10 minutes

  • 8-10 oz: 10 to 12 minutes

  • 11 oz or more: 12 to 16 minutes

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