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Perfectly Moist Reverse Seared Chicken Breasts

Perfectly Moist Reverse Seared Chicken Breasts

Perfectly moist reverse-seared chicken breast is the answer to your weeknight meal dilemma!  Juicy, tender, and so flavorful, this chicken will become a ‘go-to’ staple on your family’s menu.

Wooden cutting board with perfectly moist reverse sear chicken breasts garnished with lemon and fresh herbs

Are you tired of rubbery, overcooked, boneless skinless chicken breasts?  Have you eaten way too many of these flavorless hockey pucks at weddings, business lunches, and plated dinner events?  Yeah, me too. 

Yet, I love having a few perfectly cooked, succulent, and flavorful chicken breasts ready and waiting in my refrigerator waiting to be tossed into a Caeser salad, cubed on top of a rice dish, or sliced for a healthy sandwich instead of chemical-laden deli meat.  They’re such a time saver.

Perfectly Moist Reverse Seared Chicken Breasts

After many trials and errors – okay, epic fails on some, I’ve discovered an almost foolproof system of obtaining that perfectly moist boneless skinless chicken breast consistently each time you make them.

What is that system?  

First, we’re going to wet brine the chicken.  Next, let’s rub some flavor into the meat with a dry rub that you can make yourself or buy one of the mixes found in the spice aisle of your grocery store.

Finally, a reverse sear is going to cook the chicken perfectly.  Keeping them moist, while still having a delicious, caramelized exterior.

What Is A Brine And How To Do It

Brining a chicken is a great way to add flavor and moisture to the meat.  It involves soaking the bird in a marinade/brine that includes some sugar, salt, and spices.  

The salt in the marinade will open the protein fibers so that they absorb more of the flavors and liquid of the brine.  A good rule of thumb is to use ¾ cup salt for every gallon of water used.

The sugar not only flavors the meat but will help brown the skin while cooking.  Use the same amount of sugar as salt in a brine.  Granulated sugar, brown sugar, coconut, turbinado sugars work well.  Honey, agave syrup or even molasses works also.

Add flavor with herbs and aromatics.  Fresh herbs such as thyme, sage, and rosemary add tons of flavor.  Crushed garlic, sliced onion, lemon rind, and juice also flavor the chicken nicely.  Toss in a few peppercorns, bay leaves, turmeric, or even cumin and chili powder for kick.  Bring the brine to a full rolling boil to release the oils and flavors into the liquid and allow the mixture to cool before adding the chicken.

Allow the meat to soak for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.  Any longer than that and I find the meat gets mushy.

Wooden cutting board with slices of perfectly moist reverse sear chicken breasts garnished with lemon and fresh herbs

Why Dry Rub The Chicken

Coating the chicken in a dry rub will add even more flavor to the meat while cooking.  You can dry rub a chicken whether you brine the meat or not.  Paprika, pepper, cayenne, poultry seasoning, garlic and onion powder, parsley, basil, oregano, sage, or thyme are all options.  You can make your own rub or purchase a premade spice blend at the grocery store.

Once you massage the rub into the meat, you can cook it right away or allow it to ‘dry brine’ in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.  Dry brining meat with a rub is a great way to add flavor, especially if you don’t have time or space to wet brine the chicken in the refrigerator.

Let’s Talk About Reverse Searing

Reverse searing is a process that involves cooking the meat at a lower temperature in an oven or a ‘cool’ part of a grill and then searing the outside of the meat over a hotter temperature, such as the broiler or ‘hot’ section of a grill.  You can also reverse sear in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop.

Using this method allows for boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are perfectly moist, flavorful, and tender with a delicious, caramelized crust on the outside.

You can cook the chicken by roasting it in the oven and then searing it under the broiler.  If you have a sous vide machine, then use that to cook the breasts and then reverse sear them in a screaming hot cast-iron skillet.  Finally, grill the chicken over a cool section of your grill and sear it over the hottest part of your grill.  

Wooden cutting board with perfectly moist reverse sear chicken breasts garnished with lemon and fresh herbs

Tips For Getting The Best Results From This Recipe

  • Pick chicken breasts that are approximately the same size.  This will help to ensure that each breast is perfectly cooked.
  • If your chicken breasts are very thick, either butterfly them by slicing the breast horizontally, creating two fillets, or use a meat mallet to flatten out the thicker part until the breast is a uniform thickness.
  • When making the brine/marinade, be sure to use Kosher salt because their flat, flaky texture dissolves very well in liquid.  Also, be sure to allow the brine to cool completely before adding the chicken.  
  • Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.  This will ensure that the meat cooks evenly throughout and eliminates tough parts.
  • Allow your cooked chicken to rest before slicing and serving.  You want to keep those delicious juices in the meat.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please check out some of our other chicken recipes!

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Wooden cutting board with perfectly moist reverse sear chicken breasts garnished with lemon and fresh herbs

Perfectly Moist Reverse Seared Chicken Breast


Description

Finally, an easy recipe to get a beautifully moist boneless, skinless, chicken breast. Making a wet brine, then dry rubbing the meat before reverse searing ensures flavorful, tender and moist chicken each and every time.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approximately all the same size)

For the wet brine:

  • 1-quart water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Juice and the rind of 1 lemon
  • A handful of fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary

For the dry rub:

  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried sage
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley

For the reverse sear:

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter

Instructions

Begin by making the wet brine.

In a non-reactive pot, combine all of the brine ingredients.  Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

When cool add the chicken breasts, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Remove from the brine, but do not rinse.  Set aside while you make the dry rub.

Make the dry rub.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the rub until well combined.

Rub 1-2 tablespoons of the rub onto each of the chicken breasts.  Be sure to massage the rub into the meat.

You will have some of the dry rub left over.  Store the leftover rub in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

To cook the chicken:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly grease a baking pan with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.  Add the chicken to the pan and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Turn the chicken breasts and bake an additional 10 – 12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.  Typically, large breasts take 20-22 minutes total and medium breasts will cook in 18-20 minutes.

While the chicken bakes, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave.  Set aside.

Preheat a skillet or grill pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat on your stovetop until very hot – about 5-7 minutes.  You can tell if the skillet is hot enough by dropping a bead of water onto it.  If the bead sizzles and ‘dances’ across the pan as it evaporates, then the skillet is hot enough to sear your meat.

Remove the chicken breasts from the oven.  Brush each breast with the butter and place, buttered side down, in the hot skillet.

Sear the chicken for 2-3 minutes until golden brown with slightly crisped edges. 

Brush butter on top of the chicken breasts and turn the breasts.  Sear this side of the chicken for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

Test the temperature once more.  If the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees, remove the breast from the skillet and place it on a dish.  Loosely tent the dish with foil and allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

Note:  Cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts will keep for up to 4 days when stored tightly covered in the refrigerator or up to 6 months when stored tightly covered in the freezer.

Notes

Cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts will keep for up to 4 days when stored tightly covered in the refrigerator or up to 6 months when stored tightly covered in the freezer.

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • brining time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Reverse sear
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: Serves 4

Keywords: perfectly moist reverse sear chicken breast, boneless skinless chicken breasts, reverse sear, brined chicken, dry rub, chicken brine

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