Cook’s Illustrated Method For Perfect Roast Chicken Breasts

The Cook’s Illustrated method for perfect roast chicken breasts is a simiple technique that produces moist, tender chicken encased in a crispy, salty skin.

You can’t go wrong with roasted chicken breasts. They are simple but yummy, and you can throw almost any side with them and have a wonderful and inexpensive meal.

A few years ago, I tried the Cook’s Illustrated’s method for chicken breasts which promises chicken with “perfectly cooked meat and skin.” Since I’ve never been disappointed by any recipe or technique from Cook’s Illustrated, I gave the breasts a try and was not disappointed.

Perfectly roasted breasts must have bone-in and skin on. So, don’t try this with boneless, skinless breasts, as the results won’t be the same. The bone and skin are huge factors in making these breasts tender, succulent, and juicy.

The Cook’s Illustrated method calls for several steps to yield best results. First, it calls for oiling the outside of the breasts as well as smearing butter underneath the skin.  Second, it requires elevating the meat for roasting. The breasts are best placed atop a slotted broiler pan (no sides). Third, it calls for 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.

So here it is…..the Cook’s Illustrated method for perfectly roasted chicken breasts.

Perfectly 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!!!



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  1. HiRei, the method works well, doesn’t it? And the herb butter and cayenne sounds like a lovely combination. Thanks for leaving tips and taking time to reach out. I appreciate it so much!!

  2. I’ve used this method since finding it in cooks illustrated at least a decade ago. I use a homemade herb butter and a little cayenne. The ribs make enough of a rack so dont worry if you dont have a proper roast rack.

  3. Fixed this tonight. So easy with fantastic results. Thank you for posting!

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