This Simple Chicken Tip Can Save You Cooking Time

Many in the food world like to turn up their noses at boneless chicken breast, calling it flavorless when compared with the dark meat of chicken thighs, per Epicurious. The truth is that chicken breasts are easy to transform into a tasty and lean centerpiece of all kinds of casual and elegant dishes.

Cooking chicken breast can be a little tricky since it is easy to overcook this cut and end up with dry meat. Adding to the challenge is the variation, especially from one producer to the next, in the size and thickness of chicken breasts. According to Greatist, six ounces is considered the average size for a boneless chicken breast, but they can range from as little as four ounces all the way up to 10 ounces. Food52 shares that it takes between 18 and 20 minutes to cook an average chicken breast through to an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit (as recommended by And larger ones could take even longer! Fortunately, there's a way that not only takes the guesswork out of cooking chicken breast, but shortens cooking time for the meat, too. All it takes is a specific type of cut, a technique that's easy enough for even the most novice cook. 

All you need for this method is a knife and something heavy

The best way to prepare boneless chicken breasts so that they cook quickly and evenly every time is to turn them into cutlets, according to Eating Well. Cutlets are just whole chicken breasts that are sliced into two thinner halves. To make cutlets you'll need a sharp knife and a cutting board. Place the boneless chicken breast on the board and hold it down flat with one hand so that it doesn't slip. With the other hand, holding the knife parallel to the board, carefully slice through it to cut it into two even halves. Doing this turns the chicken breast into thinner portions that will cook through faster.

To make sure these halves are an even thickness throughout, Eating Well says the next step is to pound the cutlets to a quarter-inch thick. Place a halved chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper and use a meat tenderizer or mallet to pound it all over until thin. If you don't have a meat tenderizing tool, All Recipes shares that there are plenty of household items you can use instead: a rolling pin, a wine bottle, the bottom of a heavy skillet, or even a weighty book!

Chicken cutlets are amazing in all kinds of recipes

Thin chicken breast cutlets can be cooked on the stovetop in six to ten minutes, according to The Spruce Eats. They're especially delicious with a breadcrumb coating, and the quick cook time means the meat is done before the coating gets overly browned. Use the flat cutlets to make dishes like this easy and lemony Chicken Francese, or try Chef Alex Guarnaschelli's recipe for Chicken Cutlets with Prosciutto and Sage (shared via Food & Wine).  

Chicken cutlets are also thin enough to wrap around savory fillings before cooking. Use them to make dishes like a classic Chicken Cordon Bleu, with a savory filling of thin slices of ham and Swiss cheese. The Washington Post has several ways to use cutlets — for instance, beautiful Chicken Roll-Ups with a spiral filling of spinach, garlic, and cheese. Or, cook the cutlets in bacon fat and use them in Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado open-faced sandwiches. All Recipes likes to slice chicken breast cutlets into strips, coat them in a mixture of breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Italian herbs, and then bake them up into dippable tenders.