Chicken is one of the most universally popular main dishes to serve up at the dinner table, take to a potluck, or select at that summer wedding you RSVP’d to attend. Part of the appeal is its versatility—from the variety of cooking methods to the infinite number of herbs, spices, marinades, and sauces you can use to enhance the taste. One of the most crucial ingredients to cooking up the best chicken possible is butter. Chances are you have a few go-to recipes for the nights chicken makes it into your regular rotation, but are you cooking chicken with butter in a way that takes your chicken dinner to the level of restaurant food? Let’s find out.
How Do You Cook Chicken Without Drying It Out?
If you constantly end up with dry chicken, you might be overcooking it. Pay attention to how long you pan-fry or bake your chicken and use a meat thermometer to hit that sweet spot without starting to overcook it, which zaps all those yummy juices right out. If this happens, adding some butter at the end could add some of that moisture back into your poultry.
One popular way to maintain the natural flavors and moisture of your chicken and get a super juicy dinner is to brine it for 20-30 minutes before cooking. You can do this in just water and salt or add lemon and other herbs to your brine as well.
Another tip for avoiding drying your chicken out is for all of the cooks out there who prefer to bake your chicken—the higher the oven temp, the juicer the chicken. This also cuts down on your overall oven time, which gets dinner on the table faster.
Does Butter Make Chicken moist?
Butter adds tenderness, moistness, and flavor to every meat you add it to. When cooking chicken with butter, you can add additional juices by pulling your chicken out of the oven every 20 minutes or so and basting it.
In our Chicken Breasts With Chili Lime Butter recipe, you add our Chili Lime Flavored Butter to your skillet after the chicken has been seared and baked. While it rests, your chicken will soak up all that flavor, then you can brush or pour more overtop before serving. Flavored butter means even less prep time and few ingredients to make your sauce and flavor your chicken—you only need salt and pepper plus the oil for the pan.
How Do Restaurants Make Chicken So Tender?
Professional chefs in restaurants use several of the tips just mentioned, like brining, basting, and proper cooking temperatures to get that tender, juicy chicken you love at your favorite dinner spot. One thing we know though is that they love cooking chicken with butter.
The late Anthony Bourdain even said to Oprah once, “Butter is usually the first thing and the last thing in just about every pan. That’s why restaurant food tastes better than home food a lot of the time—butter.”
A few other chef secrets include:
- Find the foil: Cover your chicken with foil a few minutes before it’s done cooking, whether you’re baking, grilling, or pan-searing it. This is the perfect time to add a spoonful of Epicurean Butter on the chicken and let those herbs and juices soak in.
- Pound the poultry: Get your meat mallet or your rolling pin out and soften those muscle fibers to tenderize your chicken. Thinner chicken also cooks faster, meaning it can retain its moisture better. Just make sure to cover it in plastic wrap or put it in a sealed plastic bag before throwing the hammer down.
- Marinate your meat: Seal in whatever flavor you’re looking to infuse into your chicken by marinating your chicken before cooking it. Overnight is ideal, but even 30 minutes to an hour can make a difference.
Can You Cook Chicken With Butter Instead of Oil?
You have to cook chicken at a lower temperature if you bake or pan-fry chicken using butter instead of oil. This is because butter has a lower scorching temperature. Your chicken will cook more slowly, but it’s also likely to be juicier and full of more flavor.
Our recommendation? Use both. Drizzle oil in the pan to cook your chicken in, then add butter at the end to soak it in extra flavor and add a little color. Our signature Chicken Piccata recipe calls for adding one 3.5 oz tub of Epicurean Butter Lemon Garlic Herb Flavored Butter to your skillet after you’ve cooked and removed the chicken. Melt that butter with some chicken broth, lemons, and capers and you have a perfect piccata sauce with half the prep and all the premium flavors.
No matter when you add your butter or how you cook your chicken, never forget two things:
- Always check your chicken with a meat thermometer to ensure it’s done and make sure there’s no pink left. Chicken should be cooked to at least an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep Epicurean Butter on hand so you can sauté, cook, bake, and finish with flavorful ease.
Happy cooking with butter!!