Chicken breasts cook quickly, are extremely versatile and can be combined with a huge variety of herbs and spices with the end result being a tasty dish you can get on the table in less than 30 minutes.

But when cooked the wrong way, chicken breasts can end up dry, rubbery and lacking flavor.

The best way to ensure a moist piece of chicken is to brine it before cooking. If you purchase a bag of frozen chicken breasts, they have probably been infused with a brining mixture so this step is not necessary.

Brining is a simple process of placing raw chicken into a mixture of 1 quart water and ¼ cup kosher salt. This adds moisture to the chicken and helps to keep it from drying out when cooked. Chicken can be placed in the brine for as little as 15 minutes or for up to 6 hours.

You can get creative and add herbs and spices to the brine. If brining for more than 15 minutes, the chicken must be placed in the refrigerator.

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Chicken breasts are not only fast to prepare, but most recipes I’ve come across use ingredients that people usually have in their kitchen cupboards. If you are limited for time, slice the breasts in half so they are not so thick. A thin breast can cook in 15 minutes.

Not a fan of chicken breasts? You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for most recipes that call for breasts. However, thighs are not ideal for recipes that call for chicken strips as they do not have the length and can be difficult to handle if cut into small pieces.

If you happen to end up with leftovers, these chicken breasts are great in salads and sandwiches or they can be eaten as a snack right out of the refrigerator.

Fast and easy dinners are right at your fingertips. Kids are drawn to the chicken tenders and no one in my house has been able to resist the Parmesan Crusted Chicken.

Cooking up a batch of chicken means a quick and delicious weeknight meal the whole family will enjoy. Happy Eating.

Baked Chicken Breasts are tasty and quick to prepare on a busy night. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent
Baked Chicken Breasts are tasty and quick to prepare on a busy night. Donna Evans / Echo Journal CorrespondentDonna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

Chicken Tenders with Pecans

  • 2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast cut into strips
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Ranch or blue cheese dressing, optional, for serving

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

If using large pecans, place in a food processor and pulse until they are very fine. They should be the consistency of breadcrumbs. Place the pecans, panko breadcrumbs, garlic salt, pepper and paprika in a bowl.

In a small, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs until they are smooth. In another bowl or a large plate, place the flour.

Working with one chicken strip at a time, dip into the eggs, then dip into the flour, then finally the pecan mixture. Press the pecan mixture lightly onto the chicken strip and make sure the entire strip is coated with the mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining strips.

Place chicken on a center rack in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Chicken will be lightly browned and will register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Baked Chicken Breasts

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon jarred garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup grated (or canned) Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (or regular salt if you don’t have seasoned salt)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs (panko and Italian), Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, pepper and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic and paprika.

Dip each chicken breast in the oil mixture, then in the breadcrumb mixture. Press the bread crumbs to the chicken so each breast is fully coated with the breadcrumbs.

Arrange the coated chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture and oil.

Place into the oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes. The chicken will be slightly browned and if tested with a meat thermometer should reach 165 degrees.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Adapted from Hellmans.com

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 4 teaspoons Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • Paprika

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a cooking sheet or baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the mayonnaise, cheese, basil and white pepper. Arrange the chicken on the baking sheet. Spoon the mayonnaise mixture over the top and spread so it covers the top of the chicken. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over each piece of chicken. Sprinkle the paprika over the top of the bread crumbs.

Place in the oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Chicken will be browned and juices will run clear when the chicken is fully cooked.