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14 Chicken Hacks That'll Make You Say "Whoa, That's Smart"

Step up your game.

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For many home cooks, chicken is the go-to protein of choice. That's because it's cheap, easy to make, and everybody likes it — but sometimes it can be a bit bland...

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Luckily, with a few clever cooking tricks, you can make sure you won't ever eat sad, dry chicken again. (And you'll save some time while you're at it.)

So here are 12 cooking tips that'll take your chicken game to the next level:

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1. Use a hand mixer to shred cooked chicken breasts in a flash.

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Instead of shredding by hand, use a hand mixer to quickly shred chicken breasts into small pieces (just make sure they're still hot so it shreds easily). See how to do it here.

2. Soak your chicken in a simple saltwater solution (AKA a brine) before cooking to keep it moist and season it from the inside-out...

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Many people brine their Thanksgiving turkey, but did you know that the same technique can be applied to boneless chicken breasts? By quickly submerging them in a saltwater bath, you'll make sure they turn out moist and juicy every time. See how to do it here.

3. Or rub them in salt a few hours before cooking (AKA a dry brine) for the same effect.

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This might sound complicated, but just think of it as seasoning the chicken in advance. It doesn't take much effort and produces a similar result to a wet brine (but takes up way less space in the fridge). Read more about it here.

4. Tenderize your chicken by marinating it in yogurt...

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Yogurt not only tastes great, but makes an amazing marinade thanks to lactic acid. It helps break down the protein, tenderizes it, and is the perfect blank canvas for adding whatever flavor you want to it. (There's actually a long scientific explanation as to why it's such a great marinade, and you can read that here.)

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5. Or go old school and poach chicken breasts in milk to make them super tender and full of flavor.

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Just like yogurt, milk not only makes a delicious sauce after poaching, but helps tenderize the chicken as it cooks. Learn how to do it here.

6. Rub your chicken in mayonnaise before roasting it to give it a beautiful golden color.

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Mayonnaise makes the perfect rub because the fat helps the skin crisp up and it's thick enough so you won't have to baste or reapply it (unlike melted butter or oil). Learn how to do it here.

7. When roasting a whole chicken, remove the backbone and flatten it (AKA spatchcocking) to make it cook in a fraction of the time...

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This is great because you get the flavor of whole-roasted chicken without the long cooking time. Removing the backbone also makes it lay flat so you can easily grill it without having to prop it up (like beer can chicken). Learn how to do it here.

8. And cook it on a panini press if you're feeling adventurous.

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It'll give you that wonderful charred flavor without having to fire up the grill (and works great with boneless breasts as well). See how to do it here.

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9. Put a piece of parchment paper over your chicken breasts before roasting to prevent them from drying out.

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This might sound ridiculously simple (because it is), but the parchment paper acts like a protective skin and prevents the outside of the meat from drying out. Learn how to do it here.

10. Toss chicken wings in salt and baking soda before frying them to make them super crispy.

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This draws out the excess moisture and helps get the skin nice and crisp (something about raising the pH levels — ya know, science). Learn more about it here.

11. Cook chicken breasts in just eight minutes by using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

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This method helps speed up the cooking time and also works well with frozen chicken breasts (just increase the cook time to ten minutes, no need to thaw). See how to do it here.

12. Bake them in a parchment paper packet (AKA en papillote) to create an aromatic sauna that perfectly steams them.

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This old school technique not only saves you on clean up (no dishes!), but helps keep the chicken super moist. Fill the packet with whatever aromatics you have on hand, and feel free to make them in advance (just store the assembled packets in the fridge). Learn how to do it here.

13. Instead of basting your roast chicken, soak a cheesecloth in butter and drape it over as it cooks.

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This helps get the skin browned and crisp without having to baste it — you don't even have to mess with it once. This tutorial shows how to do this with a turkey, but the technique also works for chicken.

14. To make super crispy chicken skin, start cooking it in a cold pan to slowly render out the fat.

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This lets the chicken and pan heat up together allowing enough time for the fat to render out as the meat cooks (just remember to pierce the skin a few times before cooking it). See how to do it here.