Chicken breast, the top-selling chicken meat nationwide, is a staple for many households. Still, despite its success, a dichotomy exists: that white meat is dry, bland, and boring, and that dark meat, which is steadily growing in popularity, is none of those things, so why not make the swap? Of course, it’s not so black and white: Seasoned well and cooked properly, chicken breast can be incredibly moist, flavorful, and interesting, especially when it includes bones and skin. These are the recipes that Eater staff turn to time and time again when we’ve got a pack of chicken breasts in the fridge.
Andy Baraghani, Bon Appétit
A couple weeks ago, we went big on chicken, requesting at the butcher counter that a whole chicken be broken down for us for what we hoped would be two separate cooking occasions. But then we came across this shawarma roast chicken recipe from Bon Appétit, and decided — welp — let’s go all in on one dinner instead. The recipe asked us to finely grind cumin and coriander seeds along with turmeric, peppercorns, and paprika (we used what we already had ground, which made it even simpler); mix that with yogurt, garlic, and olive oil; and let the chicken marinate in that rub for at least 30 minutes. We nestled those pieces in a castiron pan with cut shallots, lemon, and oregano sprigs and poured some leftover lemon pickling liquid we had on hand over the whole thing for extra tang. This all cooked down in the oven until the chicken browned deeply, dripping in its own jus, and the shallots and lemon were irresistibly jammy.
But the surprise hit of the dinner was the skin-on chicken breasts. I’m more ride-or-thigh when it comes to chicken, but the breasts ended up as just as paunched and juicy as their thigh and leg counterparts. I’m happier still to report that the recipe would work with breasts alone, if that’s all you have on hand. — Nicole Adlman, Cities Manager
Whenever I’m asked about my favorite cookbooks, I’m quick to name Julia Turshen’s Small Victories. The stains and splatters on my copy are a testament to how often I actually cook from it rather than just flip through it as a source of inspiration. Among the recipes I’ve made the most is the “Indecision Chicken.” Billed as a chicken recipe to make when you can’t decide between herbs, mustard, lemon, or olive oil, Turshen’s marinade combines them all. The recipe includes the zest and juice of a whole lemon, in addition to both whole grain and Dijon mustard, which gives it a tart boost. The marinade, which is essentially a thick vinaigrette, is so good that you will be tempted to lick the spoon; don’t! Add your chicken, then throw it on the grill for 10 minutes or simply roast it in the oven for 25 minutes at 425 degrees — you can’t go wrong. — Kaitlin Bray, Director of Audience Development, Eater and Punch
Andy Baraghani, Bon Appétit
My apologies to Andy Baraghani, but I have made this recipe for za’atar chicken cutlets multiple times and never followed his recipe accurately. Instead of making my own za’atar I use store-bought, I don’t bother with parchment paper when I beat the cutlets thin, and I halve the flour, egg wash, and panko mixtures because batter-fried recipes always seem to overestimate (I’d rather replenish my prep bowls than waste extra). But I’m faithful to the conceit of the recipe, and you should be too: it’s a fun, spiced take on fried chicken that’s served with a pickley salad and a garlicky tahini sauce. It requires minimal work, so it’s ideal for a fun evening with your family or a few guests. — Nicholas Mancall-Bitel, Editor at Eater.com
This recipe from Molly Baz’s Cook This Book draws inspiration from Thai khao man gai, and specifically, the one from Portland, Oregon’s popular Nong’s Khao Man Gai. I love the nuanced aromatic flavor, chicken fat-dotted broth, and punchy scallion sauce of Baz’s not-quite khao man gai, not-quite chicken soup dish. Although the bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts that Baz calls for are ideal, I’ve made this recipe work in a pinch with boneless, skinless chicken breasts; to make up for the fat, I add a little more oil, and for the flavor, MSG and a little more salt.
Thanks to this recipe, I’ve learned the formula for the perfect, never-dry poached chicken breast, and never again will I doubt poached chicken. And as if the chicken wasn’t tender and juicy enough on its own, it then gets bathed in broth. The result is a dish so soothing it almost makes me wish for a sad gray day. (To get Nong’s original recipe, check out the Eater cookbook, out now.) — Bettina Makalintal, Senior Reporter at Eater.com