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I’m kind of obsessed with this healthy baked chicken breast recipe. We eat a lot of chicken in my house, so I get the opportunity to test a lot of oven baked chicken recipes, but I keep coming back to this one. It’s simple, it’s flavorful, it uses ingredients I always have around, and it’s super juicy. Oh, and baking chicken breasts at 450 degrees is super quick, too. It’s just the best way to bake chicken in the oven!
The key to juicy baked chicken breasts is all about brining. Don’t worry, it’s super easy to do and takes only 10 minutes. I use this method on lots of poultry recipes, including air fryer chicken breast, 6-ingredient spinach stuffed chicken, fancy looking prosciutto wrapped chicken, cheesy asparagus stuffed chicken, and even spatchcock turkey — making them all juicy and extra flavorful.
Why You’ll Love This Healthy Baked Chicken Breast Recipe
- Perfectly cooked, juicy chicken breasts
- Just 5 simple ingredients (plus salt and pepper)
- Quick 15-minute prep
- Faster bake time than most baked chicken breast recipes
- No chicken marinade needed
- Naturally gluten free and low carb
- Healthy main dish for dinner, lunch, or meal prep
- The best baked chicken breast recipe — after hours of research and tested dozens of times!
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for healthy baked chicken breasts, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Chicken Breast – This recipe uses boneless skinless chicken breasts. Choose ones that are similar in size and thickness, so that they cook at the same rate. (Pound them with a meat mallet if the thickness is not the same.) If your chicken is frozen, you’ll need to thaw it first, but you can do this while brining. You could use bone-in chicken breasts, but the cook time will increase. If you want to cook other cuts, glance at my basic recipes for crispy chicken thighs, simple baked chicken legs, or chicken leg quarters instead.
- Salt Water Brine – This is simply a combination of water and sea salt (or you can use kosher salt). Brining is the key to juicy baked chicken breast!
TIP: The key to a great chicken brine is the water and salt ratio.
You need 1/4 cup salt per quart (4 cups) of water. Do not skimp on the salt – this is important! Brining is chemistry. 😉 The salt solution will travel from the area of high salt concentration (outside the chicken) to low salt concentration (inside the chicken). This means more moisture in the chicken, and the salt also works to break down the chicken proteins, making them more tender.
- Olive Oil – Locks in moisture, adds flavor, and helps the seasonings stick. You can use any heat-safe oil, such as avocado oil, instead.
- Spices – After you brine the chicken, you will season both sides of the chicken breasts with Italian seasoning (a dried herb mixture that includes oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme, rosemary, and sage), garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and paprika (or smoked paprika). See Variations below for more seasoning ideas!
VARIATION: Add some heat!
If you like a kick, add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, or 1 teaspoon of chili powder.
How To Bake Chicken Breast In The Oven
This section shows how to make healthy oven baked chicken breast, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Brine. Place chicken breasts in a large bowl with enough water to cover them. Add sea salt and stir to mostly dissolve. Brine at room temperature for 10 minutes, or up to 24 hours in the fridge.
- Brush with oil. Preheat the oven. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place into a baking dish. Brush both sides with olive oil.
- Season. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, sea salt, paprika, and black pepper.
- Cook. Bake chicken breasts in the oven until firm and no longer pink, and internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees F with a meat thermometer. (The safe temp is 165, but see notes below about oven temperature.)
- Rest. Cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes before serving or slicing.
What Temperature To Bake Chicken Breast?
For the best baked chicken breast, bake at 450 degrees F. The high temperature means a shorter cook time, so the chicken doesn’t have time to dry out.
How Long To Bake Chicken Breast?
Baking chicken breast at 450 degrees is faster than lower temperatures — only 16 to 22 minutes.
Tips For The Best Baked Chicken Breast
Use these simple tips to learn how to make chicken breast perfectly every time.
- Don’t skip the brine. If you do only one thing to your meat, this is it. Brining chicken is the absolute best way to guarantee juicy results.
- Pat dry. Drying the chicken after brining (or even if you skip the brine) not only helps the seasonings stick, it also helps the chicken stay juicy during baking.
- Season liberally. You might need more seasoning than you think, and salt is the most important. A good rule of thumb for poultry is 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat, but since we are using a salt water brine, I used half of this amount.
- Leave some space. Use a baking dish large enough for pieces to fit without touching, or just barely touching. (This one is my favorite.) If the chicken breasts are too crowded, the cook time will be much longer and the chicken may dry out. If you don’t have a large enough pan, use multiple pans. You could also use a large baking sheet (line with parchment paper or foil for easier cleanup).
- Use high heat. If you go looking for healthy chicken breast recipes, you’ll find all kinds of temperatures ranging from 325 degrees up to 450 degrees. However, the best way to bake chicken in my experience is under high heat — 450 degrees F. Why? A shorter cook time gives less time for the moisture to evaporate from the chicken, meaning a juicier result.
- Don’t overcook. Since chicken breast is naturally lean, baked chicken breast recipes are more prone to drying out than other cuts. For best results, I recommend a probe thermometer, which will beep when the right internal temperature is reached and doesn’t require you to keep checking. A regular meat thermometer will work, though. Official recommendations from the USDA say to cook chicken breast until it reaches 165 degrees F, but the temperature will actually rise a few degrees after you take it out of the oven and let it rest. I typically take it out around 162 degrees and let it come to 165 while resting, to ensure an extra juicy chicken breast.
- Let the chicken rest. This is important to let the juices re-incorporate into the meat, so that they don’t leak out when you cut into it. If you don’t rest the chicken breast, it will be dry.
- Slice against the grain. Just like a good sirloin steak or ribeye, oven baked chicken breast recipes are best sliced against the grain. Doing this breaks up the muscle fibers, which makes every bite taste more tender.
- Taco – Give this healthy baked chicken breast a spicy flair by using 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning instead of the spices in this recipe. (You can also omit the salt after brining, since taco seasoning already has salt added.)
- Poultry Flavor – For a classic comfort food vibe, use 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning instead of the Italian seasoning.
- BBQ – After brining chicken, generously baste with BBQ sauce (or sugar free BBQ sauce) on both sides. Halfway through, baste the chicken with more BBQ sauce for a thick layer of caramelized glaze. If you want it even more caramelized, finish in the broiler for 5 minutes.
- Spicy – If you like a little kick to your meals, season with Cajun seasoning.
- Teriyaki – Skip the brine and added seasonings, and marinate with teriyaki sauce (or sugar free teriyaki sauce) instead, then follow the steps above for baking.
- Lemon Pepper – Like lemon pepper wings, you can simply substitute all the spices in this baked chicken breast recipe with 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning, or try my lemon garlic chicken instead.
- Ranch – Follow my ranch chicken recipe for a ranchy flavor. Or, simply use ranch seasoning instead of the Italian seasoning.
- Store: Cool completely and place into an airtight container in the fridge. Leftovers will last up to 3-4 days.
- Meal prep: Baked boneless chicken breast is very versatile for meal prep. You can make it ahead and then use it as a main meal for lunch, or re-purpose it in casseroles (it would be great in chicken bacon ranch casserole!), serve over salads, or add to soups.
- Reheat: To avoid drying out the chicken, it’s best to reheat it in the oven at low temperature, with some moisture. Place chicken into a baking dish with a thin layer of broth at the bottom. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 250 degrees F for 15-30 minutes, until hot. Microwaving will work, but will be more dry.
- Freeze: You can freeze baked chicken breast in a freezer bag for up to 4 months, but it will be less juicy than when it was freshly made.
What To Serve With Baked Chicken Breast
- Veggies – Roasted zucchini and roasted eggplant cook at 400 degrees, but you can easily cut the pieces thicker and cook them with the meat at 450 degrees, at the same time. Or, try sauteed broccoli, easy air fryer carrots, or quick sauteed asparagus.
- Salad – Slice your juicy baked chicken and fan it over arugula salad or cobb salad. Or simply add a side salad to your meal like loaded cauliflower salad, deliciously creamy cucumber salad, or my favorite kale salad.
- Potatoes – Pair these juicy baked chicken breasts with your favorite mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, baked potatoes (or Instant Pot baked potatoes), or roasted sweet potatoes. Or make a lighter swap by making mashed cauliflower or roasted rutabaga.
- Rice Or Noodles – Make classic rice or pasta, or try zucchini noodles, easy cauliflower rice, or twirly baked spaghetti squash.
More Healthy Chicken Breast Recipes
Chicken breast doesn’t have to be boring! If you want something a little less basic, make perfect, juicy chicken breast with extra flavors like these:
- Baking Dish – My favorite! It goes from oven to table beautifully.
- Basting Brush – I use this silicone basting brush, which is easy to wash and means no worrying about shedding bristles.
- Meat Thermometer – The key to for perfect baked chicken breast recipes! I recommend a probe thermometer so that it beeps when ready and you don’t have to keep checking, but I like this meat thermometer as well.
Baked Chicken Breast
Healthy Baked Chicken Breast (Juicy & Easy!)
The BEST way to bake chicken breast, with simple ingredients! This juicy, healthy baked chicken breast recipe is fast, EASY and never dry.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
To brine the chicken breasts, place them in a large bowl with enough water to cover them (about 4 cups). Add sea salt and stir to mostly dissolve. Let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature, or for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Drain the salt water, rinse the chicken, and pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C).
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, sea salt, paprika, and black pepper.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, until firm and no longer pink, and internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees F (71-74 degrees C). (Internal temperature will rise another 5 degrees when resting.) A probe thermometer like this is the best set-it-and-forget-it method because it will beep when ready, but an instant-read thermometer also works.
Cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes before serving or slicing.
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Serving size: 1 chicken breast
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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