Patience Is The Key To Better Grilled Chicken Breast

Chicken breasts are one of the most common cuts of meat out there. They can also be one of the most criticized — poorly cooked breasts can suffer from overly dry, stringy texture or lackluster taste compared to other chicken pieces. But you and your dining companions aren't doomed to underwhelming chicken. While some problems may be linked to the biggest mistake many make with chicken breast, there's one key ingredient that's free — patience.

It's important to let the chicken breast rest for a few minutes after cooking, like you would for many other cuts of meat. This is necessary because, when heated, the muscle fibers of a protein constrict, squeezing out their juices into the rest of the meat. If you simply cut into your chicken breast immediately after taking it off the grill or out of the pan, these juices (not to mention their flavor) will just run out onto your plate or cutting board. By resting, you allow these juices to reabsorb into the meat, resulting in a more moist, tender final product.

While even a few minutes helps, waiting five to 10 minutes is best, and covering the chicken breast with foil will help keep it warm in the meantime.

The value of a good rest

This resting step is especially important with chicken breast, which is a cut already prone to drying out because of how lean it is. In addition, food safety plays a role. According to the USDA, while beef and pork can be cooked to lower temperatures to maintain some of their juiciness, chicken needs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be safely consumed. These higher temperatures draw out more of the chicken's moisture, which needs time to return to the muscle fibers when taken off the heat.

Those looking to further step up their chicken breast should marinate or brine their cuts before cooking. This not only amps up the flavor, but can also help the meat retain moisture once it's done. Give this simple technique a try the next time you're whipping up a meal based on this versatile and delicious cut. If you need some inspiration, try these 63 chicken breast recipes you'll make over and over