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.
12 Best Bone-in Chicken Breast Recipes
- 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.
Recipe NotesFinding Montrachet goat cheese with garlic and herbs can be challenging. Regular goat cheese works very well too. You can also substitute goat cheese for feta cheese or cream cheese. I tried both and they work very well.
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 1/4 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)
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (optional, see notes below)
- 2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp for marinade plus 1/4 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.
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.
4. Bone-In Chicken Breast with Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes
This recipe is a variation of the bone-in chicken breast with goat cheese and basil. It’s just as delicious, moist and flavorful, but also adds that unique, slightly tart sun dried tomato taste.
Bone-In Chicken Breast with Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
- 5 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese Montrachet goat cheese is recommended
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes julienned. Plus more for garnish (optional)
- Good olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish, skin side up. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving 1 side attached. Cut the goat cheese into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place 1 or 2 slices plus 1/4 of the julienned sun-dried tomatoes under the skin of each chicken breast, with goat cheese on top to sun dried tomatoes. Pull the skin over as much of the meat as possible so the chicken won't dry out. Rub each piece with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken reached 165F internal temperature.
Remove from the oven. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.
Recipe NotesThe original recipe calls for boneless, skin-on chicken breasts. I think bone-in, skin-on gives superior results. Try both and see what you like best.
1. Place sun dried tomatoes such that they are hidden all the way. Pieces that stick out may dry out and char.
2. If you place sun dried tomatoes right below the chicken skin, the skin will get very crispy, even slightly burnt. This happens because the tomatoes will lift the skin up, allowing for hot air to circulate underneath. If you place the tomatoes under the cheese, the skin will be less crispy and less prone to charring.
5. Smoked Bone-in Chicken Breast
This recipe is a variation of my super popular baked chicken breast recipe. The big difference here is that the chicken breasts are smoked on a grill or in a smoker. It’s best to use a charcoal grill, adding a few chunks of cherry wood for smoke. This lends the chicken amazing smoky flavors and dark red color.
Now, smoking meat in a pan seems counter-intuitive. At least I felt that way initially, until I tried the chicken. It was one of the best smoked chicken breasts I had ever tried. The butter and the chicken stock help keep the meat moist and add flavor. Without them the breasts will come out drier and a little rubbery. If you’ve ever tried smoking chicken breasts you know the challenge.
I did some experimenting with this recipe and found that bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts come out a slightly more tender and a touch more flavorful, though boneless, skinless breasts tasted amazing too. Chilled and diced, skinless breasts cooked this way are fantastic for chicken salads.
Follow the recipe to prepare the chicken breasts. Place them into an aluminum foil pan, add chicken stock and butter. Smoke at about 275F – 300F over indirect heat for about 1.5 – 2 hours, until the chicken reaches internal temperature of 165F. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes and serve.
6. Grilled Marinated Bone-In Chicken Breast
This recipe is based on my killer chicken thigh marinade which works just as well for bone-in, skin on chicken breasts. Again, I tried both skinless and skin-on breasts, and found that skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts had a little more flavor, and the meat was noticeably juicier. The bone and the skin definitely help protect the white meat from drying out during grilling.
A few tips to keep in mind. The marinade, as good as it is, is very prone to burning due to the honey and oils in it. If you are not careful, this is what you will get:
I deal with it two ways. One is to wipe off the excess marinade with a paper towel before throwing the breasts on the grill. This helps a lot, but you still have to keep an eye on the breasts. The other way is to cook over direct heat for about a minute per side for good color and caramelization, then finish over indirect heat.
Follow the recipe above to prepare the marinade. Marinate chicken breasts for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight and even up to 24 hours. The longer, the better. Preheat the grill to 350F – 400F. Grill until the chicken reaches internal temperature of 165F. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.
7. Oven Roasted Marinated Bone-In Chicken Breast
This recipe also uses my killer chicken thigh marinade. Follow the recipe in the link above to prepare the marinade and marinate the chicken breasts. In contrast to the chicken thigh recipe, roast at 350F-375F instead of 450F, until the internal temperature reaches 165F, about 45-60 minutes. Chicken breast meat is less forgiving and higher cooking temperatures result in less tender and a bit dryer meat.
8. Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breast With Olive Oil, Lemon, and Rosemary
This recipe is adapted without any changes from Fifty Shades of Chicken. The chicken breast is roasted at 450F, which is quite a bit higher than the typical temperature range I use for baking chicken breasts.
As I mentioned above, I like lower temperatures as they tend to produce a juicier and more tender meat, but I liked the results in this recipe. The meat turned out juicy, though slightly less tender than what it would be if cooked at 350F-375F. The skin browned and crisped up exceptionally well, without needing to use broiler. The flavors of rosemary and lemon are subtle and complement the chicken perfectly.
Roasted Bone-In Breast With Olive Oil, Lemon, And Rosemary
- SERVES 4
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts (about 3 pounds total), patted dry with paper towels
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- 4 small sprigs rosemary broken into pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil the best you have
Rub the chicken breasts all over with the salt and pepper. Let rest while the oven preheats to 450°F.
Lay the lemon slices and rosemary all over the bottom of a roasting pan and place the chicken on top, leaving space in between the breasts so they have room to crisp up. Drizzle generously with the oil.
Roast until the breasts are golden and done through and through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot with the pan juices spooned all over the flesh.
9. Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breast with Clementines and Arak
This bone-in chicken breast recipe is adapted with some modifications (see my notes in the recipe) from one Yotam Ottolenghi’s book titled Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
The dish is ‘citrusy’ and intensely flavored. In a very good way. All the intense flavors from clementines, lemons, mustard, fennel, and brown sugar somehow work together really well, creating a slightly sweet, comforting dish that I became very fond of.
Roasted Bone-in Chicken Breast with Clementines and Arak
- 4 skin-on bone-in chicken breasts
- 1 medium fennel bulb cut into 8 wedges
- 4 clementines unpeeled, cut horizontally into 3/8-inch slices
- 2 medium size sweet potatoes peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- 1 zucchini cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 red bell pepper cut into bite size pieces
- 4 shallots cut in half
- 1 Tbsp thyme leaves
- 2½ tsp fennel seeds lightly crushed
- For the marinade:
- 6½ tbsp / 100 ml arak ouzo, or Pernod (or substitute with 1/2 cup chicken broth)
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange or tangerine juice
- 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp grain mustard
- 3 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl or a Ziploc bag and set aside.
Add the fennel bulb, zucchini, bell pepper and shallots to the marinade, along with the chicken pieces, clementine slices, thyme, and fennel seeds. Rub the marinade all over the chicken and vegetable pieces. Marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. You can skip the marinating step if you are pressed for time. Note: I typically do not marinate sweet potatoes with the chicken as they take a lot of space. They will be added just before baking.
Preheat the oven to 475F. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking sheet large enough to accommodate everything comfortably in a single layer. Place chicken breasts skin side up. Add the sweet potatoes. You can rub the sweet potatoes in marinade before placing them on the baking dish. Put the pan in the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken breasts reach internal temperature of 165F. Remove from the oven.
Carefully transfer the chicken, the clementines, and the vegetables to a serving plate. Cover and keep warm.
Pour the liquid from the baking pan into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced by about one-third and thickened. It should have the consistency of thin gravy.
Pour the thickened sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.
Recipe NotesThe original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi calls for 6½ tbsp / 100 ml arak, ouzo, or Pernod. Those can be challenging to find. I substituted arak with chicken broth and the dish came out great. I also tried this dish with arak and I think both ways result in a very tasty dish.
The original recipe calls for 2 fennel bulbs and clementines. This is fine if serving with rice or bulgur, as the author suggests. My version of the recipe makes a one-dish meal by adding other vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, zucchini, sweet peppers and shallots.
10. Honey Soy Bone-In Chicken Breast
I love the juices you end up with in this recipe. Slightly sweet from honey and sour from lemon, they are so good that I often sneak out a few tablespoons before even trying the chicken. The chicken turns out very tender and moist if cooked to 165F.
11. Mexican Lime Bone-In Chicken Breast
One of my favorite chicken recipes is the Mexican chicken with corn and chiles. This recipe captures its flavors and takes them a step further. The chicken comes out tender and juicy, oozing with Mexican flavors coming from a combination of chile powder, cumin, paprika and lime. If you want a little bit of a kick, red chilies and jalapeno peppers are right there to bite into. Creamy roasted garlic makes the chicken even better.
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
- 4 Tbsp good olive oil
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 2 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp Ancho chile powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 red chili peppers, whole
- 4 jalapeno peppers, whole
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a medium size bowl, combine olive oil, ground coriander seeds, lime juice, paprika, cumin, Ancho chile powder, honey and salt. Rub the marinade all over the chicken breasts and let marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken breasts to a baking dish. Pour any leftover marinade into the baking dish. Slice one lime very thinly into 8 slices. Left chicken skin with your fingers and place 2 lime slices under the skin. Tuck garlic cloves, red chili and jalapeno peppers around the chicken pieces.
- Bake at 375F for about 40-45 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
12. Bone-In Chicken Breast with Balsamic and Rosemary
Inspired by a recipe from Fifty Shades of Chicken. The meat comes out succulent and tender. The flavors are amazing. The color of the juice at the bottom of the pan reminds me of red wine and is absolutely delicious. I could just drink it on its own.
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
- 3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (traditional 18-year balsamic vinegar from Modena is recommended)
- 2 Tbsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp per chicken breast), plus more to taste
- 4 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 Tbsp good quality olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Sprinkle salt all over the chicken breasts. Pat each breast to make sure salt adheres to the meat. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish, skin side up.
- In a medium bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, pressed garlic and chopped rosemary. Pour over chicken breasts. Drizzle olive oil over thicken pieces, followed by crushed pepper flakes.
- Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Just as good: