baked chicken thighs

Guide to Baked Chicken

ButcherBox Guide to Baking Chicken

There are numerous ways to cook chicken. Many of them involve some patience, a little bit of kitchen know-how, and, every now and then, some specific tool or technique.

But expertise and gadgets don’t always result in delivering a delectable dish of chicken to the table. Sometimes, all it takes are the right ingredients and the patience to let the oven do all the work.

These days everyone seems too busy to spend hours working through complex cooking instructions. With a few steps, you can bake chicken breasts, wings, or even a whole chicken in the oven. Better yet, follow the oven temperature and timing suggestions and you’ll likely get a perfectly cooked piece of chicken every time you bake. (Ovens do vary in how they cook, so make sure to used a meat thermometer to get to that ideal—and safe—165°F doneness temp.)

We’ll guide you on how to best to bake your chicken and the various ways you can cook the different cuts in the oven. Some topics we’ll cover include:

  • A quick overview of tips for baking any cut of chicken
  • The best options for cooking the various cuts, from wings and drumsticks to chicken breasts, chicken tenders, and more
  • Different techniques for getting perfectly roasted or crispy chicken for your meals
  • And, best of all, we’ll share our favorite baked chicken recipes to get you started

How to Bake Chicken

To bake amazing chicken every time, there are a few rules you should follow. We have a few tips for baking chicken that make achieving chicken perfection easy.

Dry-rubbed chicken drumsticks on a picnic table

The Rules for Baking Chicken

  • Try Different Seasoning Tactics: If you have time, try to brine your chicken before baking. Otherwise, you can use a dry-rub (here is our favorite homemade dry-rub), experiment with herb combinations, or just go all-in on the salt and pepper.
  • Oils and Fats Make for a Tender Chicken: You can also try different oils and fats to figure out what flavor combinations work best for you, your guests, or your family. We like cooking with avocado oil because of its high smoke point, but ghee and butter also do wonders with oven-baked chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
  • The Right Temp + Timing = Amazing Baked Chicken: Check out our tips for details on timing for various cuts of chicken. Cooking at a high-temp—between 375°F and 400°F is the sweet spot to get that chicken to the exact internal temperature of 165°F. A meat thermometer should make all the difference if you have one on hand.
  • Sauce It Up and Enjoy: Lastly, you can take pan drippings and make a homemade sauce for your chicken or just leverage your favorite sauce for a finishing touch.

One of the biggest misconceptions about baking chicken is that the resulting dish ends up too juicy and lacking a certain crispness. However, if you follow a few instructions, you can get crispy chicken from the oven as well. Here is our guide to Baking Crispy Chicken in the Oven.

The Ways to Bake Chicken

baked whole chicken with lemons on cutting board

Baking chicken in the oven can be done in a few different ways. Below are a few of our favorite techniques. Each has its own benefits and adds a different depth of flavor and texture to the chicken.

Different Rules for Baking Different Cuts of Chicken

Because they contain different amounts of fat or bones, there are some things you should keep in mind while cooking the various cuts of chicken.

Wings are a bit unique and can be cooked in a number of ways. They tend to have longer cooking times and you’ll want to consider different baking tactics, such as cooking on a wire rack and opening the oven mid-cook.

Chicken breasts and chicken tenders can be baked in similar ways with great results. The best part of breasts and tenders is that you can eat them as a meal and use leftovers again and again. You can also bake them in advance and use them in meals throughout a busy week.

Chicken thighs and drumsticks come from the leg area and tend to be a bit fattier. They are often a bit more flavorful than other cuts and taste great with a variety of rubs or sauces.

Our Favorite Baked Chicken Recipes

Baking chicken doesn’t mean that you have to skip the tastiest and most creative chicken recipes. With the right rubs or marinates—or even the perfect combination of salt and pepper—you can cook a chicken dish that can both “wow!” a crowd and set you up for a week of easy meal prep lunches.

Quick and Easy Baked Chicken Tenders

chicken tenders on a cutting boardThis is one of our most popular recipes. Period. Quick and easy directions result in amazingly tasty chicken tenders that both kids and adults will enjoy.

Easy Baked Chicken Wings with Tangy Yogurt Dip

a pile of buffalo chicken wingsThese baked wings are perfect for hosting or can be a meal by themselves. The cayenne in the coating adds the kick you expect, but you’ll be surprised by just how crispy you can get these chicken wings by baking them in the oven.

Whole Roasted Chickenwhole roasted chicken

A whole roasted chicken can feed a good-sized crew for dinner or serve as the starting point for numerous meals throughout a week. This recipe uses a simple rub and some quality time in the oven to get the results we know your tastebuds will enjoy.

Buffalo Chicken Melt

buffalo chicken meltThis is a bit of a curveball from some of the simpler recipes but one that is perfect for lunch, dinner, or an outdoor adventure or tailgate. After baking and pulling apart chicken breasts, add your favorite buffalo sauce and a couple of different cheeses. Place the ingredients on a piece of bread and throw the dish right back in the oven to melt everything to perfection.