What is your favorite easy-to-make, relatively healthy and lip-smacking delicious dish? For me it would be a bone-in chicken breast served over a bed of Italian pasta, sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a touch of basil infused olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. It’s a winner every time.
I will pick a bone-in chicken breast over a skinless, boneless breast eight times out of ten. The reason is simple: it tastes better. The fat from skin adds flavor, and the skin itself protects the delicate white meat from drying out. The bone, contrary to popular belief, does not make the meat more flavorful. What it does is it, similar to the skin, protects the meat and helps keep it moist and juicy. Serious Eats and Amazing Ribs have both concluded that bones in meat do not add flavor but act as a barrier for moisture. I’ve done a number of side-by-side tests and I am convinced, bone-in, skin-on just tastes better. Bone-in, skin-on breasts are also more forgiving and give you a better chance at success.
There are some great skinless chicken breast recipes out there that produce a very flavorful and succulent breast, like this baked chicken breast recipe, but the majority of the time bone-in, skin-on beats skinless in the flavor and juiciness department.
Here is my collection of 12 best bone-in chicken breast recipes that never cease to impress. Even the most picky eaters are guaranteed to be satisfied.
1. Baked Bone-In Chicken Breast with Goat Cheese and Basil
This is one of Ina Garten’s awesome recipes, which I very slightly modified (see my notes in the recipe below). It’s simple, yet ridiculously delicious. Goat cheese adds wonderful tang and creaminess to white chicken meat. It makes you wonder why would you ever eat chicken breast any other way. All you need is skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, salt, pepper, goat cheese, fresh basil and a little bit of good olive oil.
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
- 8 ounces goat cheese (Montrachet goat cheese with garlic and herbs recommended)
- Fresh basil leaves (2 per chicken breast plus more for garnish)
- 1 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp per chicken breast). Add more if needed.
- Freshly ground black pepper, 2-3 turns per breast.
- 2 Tbsp good olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Arrange chicken breasts on an oven-proof baking dish or a baking pan. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers such that you have 2 sides attached. Slice the goat cheese into 8 thick pieces. Place 2 basil leaves, then two pieces of goat cheese under the skin of each chicken breast. Rub each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bake the breasts for about 35-40 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165F. You may want to finish by turning on the broiler for a couple of minutes to better brown and crisp up the skin.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes to allow the meat re-absorb some of the lost moisture before serving.
The original recipe is ambiguous with regard to salt and pepper and recommends to "sprinkle generously with salt and pepper". The first time I made this recipe I ended up over-salting. I find that ¼ tsp of kosher salt and 2-3 turns of black pepper per breast is sufficient. You may increase or decrease the amounts if needed.
The original recipe calls for one large basil leaf per breast. I doubled basil for more flavor.
Use very good olive oil. The kind that you would sprinkle on a fresh salad. Cheap or old olive oil will introduce unpleasant off-flavors.
I’ve baked this dish at 375F, as per Ina Garten’s recommendation, and at 350F. It takes a bit longer to cook at 350F (45-60 minutes) but I believe it results in a slightly more tender, juicier meat.
Have leftovers? Shred the chicken meat, combine with a little bit of goat cheese you may have left over and a smidgen of mayonnaise and you've got yourself an awesome sandwich spread for next day's lunch.
2. Baked Bone-In Lemon Chicken Breast
Another gem recipe by Ina Garten, also slightly modified (see my notes in the recipe below). I’ve tried many lemon chicken recipes, but this one truly hits the spot. It’s citrus-y and garlic-y. It’s absolutely delicious. A must try!
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (see my notes below)
- ¼ cup good olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (optional, see notes below)
- 2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp for marinade plus ¼ tsp per chicken breast). Add more if needed.
- Freshly ground black pepper, 2-3 turns per breast.
- 1 lemon (see my notes below)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute without allowing the garlic to turn brown. I suggest you test with a few grains of garlic first before adding the rest. You don’t want the oil to be too hot so that it browns the garlic. If too hot, remove from heat let cool down.
- Remove the saucepan off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour into a baking dish or a baking pan.
- Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon into 8 wedges and place between chicken breasts.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the internal temperature reaches 165F. By this time the skin should be slightly browned. If you want crisper skin and more browning, put the baking dish under the broiler for 2 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot with the pan juices.
No need to use a new lemon to make wedges. You can will have 1½ lemons left from zesting and juicing, use them instead. Unless you are trying to impress guests.
The original recipe is ambiguous with regard to salt and pepper and recommends to "sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper". I find that ¼ tsp of kosher salt and 2-3 turns of black pepper per breast is sufficient. You may increase or decrease the amounts if needed.
The original recipe calls for boneless, skin-on chicken breasts. I find that bones protect the meat from drying out just as much as the skin, so I use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts.
I often find myself having all the needed ingredients except the fresh thyme leaves, so I would leave them out. Besides, I am fairly partial to thyme. I find that this recipe works great with or without thyme.
3. Crispy Oven Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breast
This oven roasted bone-in chicken breast is crispy-skinned, tender and juicy on the inside, and very flavorful. It’s very easy to make and practically impossible to mess up.
The one and most important part in this recipe is to not overcook the meat. You want to pull the chicken at as close to 165F internal temperature as possible. If you let it cook past that temperature too far, it will get hopelessly dry and rubbery. So, be careful and use an accurate instant read thermometer or a BBQ thermometer, like this inexpensive ThermoPro digital thermometer with a single probe.
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