How To Prevent Cooking Dry Chicken

Here’s a question from a participant in one of our cooking classes that is on all our minds when cooking chicken!
 
Question:Sometimes my boneless chicken breast is nicely cooked, other times it’s really dry. How do I make perfectly cooked chicken breast every time?

chicken breast

Answer:

Chicken is often overcooked in an effort to prevent food poisoning (salmonella) and/or for lack of a kitchen thermometer (every kitchen should have and use one!).

To prevent overcooking and the drying out of boneless skinless chicken, here are some tips:

  1. Cook the chicken for a shorter amount of time (and use a thermometer for make sure the chicken has reached a food-safe temperature of 74C/165F).
  2. Or use a baking soda/water solution prior to cooking the chicken.

Boneless, skinless chicken lacks the skin and bones to insulate the delicate meat fibres from overcooking and becoming dry and fibrous. The baking soda and water slurry raises the chicken’s pH, preventing the meat’s proteins from bonding together as tightly — allowing you to cook the chicken thoroughly but preventing dry, chewy chicken.   

How to use it:

Combine two boneless skinless chicken breasts, 2 tablespoons of water with 1 teaspoon baking soda in a bowl, and let sit 15 minutes before cooking. Then wash the solution off the chicken so your meal doesn’t have a residual baking soda flavour. This technique is particularly useful if you’re cutting up the chicken breast to cook in smaller pieces! We used this technique in our Thai-style Fried Noodles with Chicken and Broccolini recipe.