What Are the Best Tips for Broiling Chicken Breasts?

Allison Boelcke

Broiling is a cooking method in which food is cooked by being placed directly below the heat from a broiler. Depending on the manufacturer, a broiler may be located in a compartment either below the oven or on top of the stove. It works in a similar way to a grill in that both methods utilize direct heat that quickly cooks the outside of food and gradually heats the inside; however, the broiler’s direct heat is above the food and grilling uses direct heat from below the food. The rapid, direct heat of the broiler can cause lean foods, such as white meat poultry, to dry out if not properly cooked, so certain precautions and tips may be recommended when broiling chicken breasts.

Chicken breast is high in protein.
Chicken breast is high in protein.

Grilling often adds a smoky flavor to foods, making them only require minimal seasoning to be flavorful, but broiling does not impart that same smoky taste. To prevent blandness, when broiling chicken breasts, it is often recommended to soak them in a marinade in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to overnight. Common chicken marinades may consist of olive oil, an acidic ingredient, such as wine or citrus juice, and any desired spices or herbs.

Use a meat thermometer to confirm that the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees.
Use a meat thermometer to confirm that the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees.

If broiling chicken breasts with the bone in, it is often best to keep the skin on during the cooking process, even if it will be removed before consuming. The skin is thought to help keep the meat moist while it is cooking because it provides a barrier to prevent the chicken’s natural juices from drying out while in close contact with the broiler heat source. Bone-in chicken breasts may be seasoned on the outside of the skin, and many recipes call for seasoning the meat underneath the skin as well. This can be done by combining preferred spices with oil or softened butter and loosening the skin in order to insert the mixture. The chicken bone tends to help keep the meat moist, so when broiling chicken breasts that are boneless and skinless, recipes often call for seasoning the outside and brushing it with oil or melted butter, to compensate for the lack of moisture from the bone and skin.

To ensure the broiler will cook the chicken evenly, it is often advised to let the broiler preheat for about 10 minutes. The broiler typically contains a rack that can be adjusted to be nearer or farther away from the heat source. Recipe recommendations may vary, but it is generally recommended to position the rack from 5 to 8 inches (12.7 to 20.32 cm) away from the heat. When broiling chicken breasts, bone-in breasts may take longer than boneless breasts, but a common length of cooking time tends to be approximately 10 minutes per side. If a meat thermometer measures the chicken at 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82.2 degrees Celsius), it is typically considered to be done enough to safely eat.

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