Cook’s Illustrated Method For Perfect Roast Chicken Breasts

Is Cook’s Illustrated’s method for perfect roast chicken breasts REALLY perfect? I tried it; here’s my opinion!


Cook’s Illustrated’s method for chicken breasts promises chicken with “perfectly cooked meat and skin.” Since most everything I’ve ever made from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe has been outstanding, I decided to try the chicken technique for myself.

Boneless skinless or skin-on? With few exceptions, the most flavorful chicken is not boneless and skinless. Bone-in, skin-on is typically a better bargain and a better choice for roasting.

The Fresh Market recently had whole breasts for sale BOGO, so I purchased two to try this roast chicken recipe. The two breasts were similar in shape and size–each weighing a little over one pound. This method of roasting requires uniformity in size in order to cook properly and in the same length of time.

One secret to getting a crisp skin is oiling the top of the breasts and smearing butter underneath the skin.  Another secret is elevating the meat for roasting. The breasts are best placed atop a slotted broiler pan (no sides). Also helpful is pulling out the rib cage on each side of the breasts so that each will stand up on its own and allow heat to circulate evenly around the meat.

Here is the technique from Cook’s Illustrated:

Roasted Chicken Breasts

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 whole bone-in skin-on chicken breasts (about 1- 1/2 pounds each), patted dry with paper towels and trimmed of excess fat
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used EVOO)


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line bottom of broiler pan with foil, place broiler pan rack on top; set aside.
  3. In small bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon salt and butter until combined.
  4. Sprinkle underside of chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper.
  5. Gently loosen bottom portion of skin covering each breast.
  6. Using small spoon, place a quarter of softened butter under skin, directly on meat, in center of each breast half.
  7. Using spoon, spread butter evenly over breast meat.
  8. Rub skin of each whole breast with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle liberally with pepper.Set chicken breasts on broiler pan rack, propping up breasts on rib bones.
  9. Roast until thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes.
  10. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes to allow juices to settle.

Here is a short clip showing how my chicken breasts turned out. They were very moist, juicy, and tender while remaining crisp and salty on the outside. We loved them!

If you try this method for roasting chicken breasts, please let me hear if it works for you! As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!