10 Important Tips for Cooking Better Chicken

updated May 1, 2019
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Whether you always choose lean chicken breasts, make a beeline for super-flavorful thighs, or simply love a crispy-skinned whole bird, there’s no denying that chicken makes a truly satisfying meal. There are so many ways to prepare it, and the leftovers are sometimes even better than the main meal.

Before getting in the kitchen to cook your next meal, make sure you have all the necessary pro tips nailed down. Here are 10 essentials you should know to help you cook a winning chicken dinner every single time.

1. The absolute best way to cook chicken breasts comes from Joy of Cooking.

This method requires trust. Though if you ask me, that seems like a small price to pay when the reward is flawlessly easy, tender, and juicy chicken breasts.

2. A roast chicken is for weeknights, not just weekends.

You can save this comforting dinner for Sunday night, but you don’t have to. A small bird only takes about an hour to roast, so it’s totally doable on a weeknight.

3. Chicken thighs are a smarter buy than breasts.

Most people flock to chicken breast, and the wonderfully flavorful, budget-friendly thigh gets overlooked. Don’t make this mistake. Thigh meat does have a higher fat content, but that’s what makes it so rich and flavorful. It’s cheaper and almost impossible to mess up, unlike chicken breasts.

4. Milk is the surprising ingredient in the best chicken recipe of all time.

Just as surprising as the combination of ingredients is the simplicity and ease of making this recipe. An unexpected blend of milk, lemons, cinnamon, and sage work together to put an unforgettable chicken dinner on the table.

5. There’s one indicator of doneness, and it’s temperature.

We’ve been told that chicken is fully cooked when the juices run clear, the meat is no longer pink, and the internal temperature is 165 degrees. The real focus should be on the temperature — that’s the safest indicator of doneness.

6. Yes, you can get five meals out of a rotisserie chicken.

If you’re cooking for one, a single rotisserie chicken is the answer to your weeknight dinner prayers. If you’re feeling ambitious, roast your own!

7. Parchment is the secret to perfectly baked chicken.

Chicken breast is such a lean cut that it can be tricky to cook without it turning out dry and tasteless. But a single piece of parchment paper placed over the chicken before going into the oven acts almost like the chicken’s missing skin, protecting it and preventing it from drying out.

8. Shred your chicken before freezing.

Gone are the days of eating leftovers as fast as you can. Instead, take a page out of Emma’s playbook by shredding then freezing your leftover cooked chicken. Shredding makes it easier and quicker to defrost later to just toss into a salad.

Read more → Quick Tip: Freeze Leftover Cooked Chicken

9. Do you pound your chicken? Try it for faster cooking.

Chicken breasts are always thicker at one end, and this unevenness means that the thicker end will just take longer to cook. By pounding it out or butterflying it, you’ll have a piece of meat that cooks quicker and more evenly.

10. You don’t need a roasting pan to roast a chicken.

No roasting pan, no problem! There are plenty of other tools in the kitchen you can use to make a delicious roast chicken.

What are your best tips and advice for cooking chicken?