My all-time favorite oven baked chicken breasts recipe! It never fails me, thanks to this simple 5-step method that is easy to make and customize with your favorite seasonings.
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness and brined in saltwater (*see easy instructions below)
1 Tablespoon melted butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika (I prefer smoked paprika)
Brine: To brine your chicken breasts, fill a large bowl with 1 quart of warm water and 1/4 cup kosher salt. Stir to combine until most of the salt is absorbed. Add the chicken breasts and let them sit in the mixture to brine for 15 minutes. Or you can also also cover the bowl and refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine, rinse them with cold water, then pat them dry with some paper towels. (However, if the chicken breasts you purchased have already been pre-brined in a sodium solution, skip this step.)
Cook: Preheat oven to 450°F.
Place the chicken breasts in a single layer in a large baking dish or roasting pan*. Brush on both sides (turning once) evenly with the melted butter or olive oil.
In a separate small bowl, whisk the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika until combined. Then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the chicken on both sides.
Bake for 15-18* minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. I recommend using a cooking thermometer to know exactly when it is fully cooked; in the thickest part of the breast, it should be 165°F. (Or, if you want the chicken to be a little bit browned and crispier on top, you can turn the broiler on high for the final 3-5 minutes and broil the chicken until it is cooked through and golden on top. Keep a close eye on the chicken so that it does not overcook and/or burn.)
Once the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the oven, transfer the chicken to a clean plate, and loosely tent the plate with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for at least 5-10 minutes.
Serve warm. Or, refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
*I recommend using a roasting pan (with a roasting rack) if you have one, which will help the chicken to cook a bit more evenly on both sides.