How to tenderize chicken breast: 5 easy methods

You can tenderize chicken breasts in many ways: dry brine, wet brine, marinate, pound or velvet the chicken breast. Tenderizing chicken breast is an excellent way to make it more tender and juicy.

If cooked properly, chicken breast is a delicious piece of meat. However, overcooked chicken breast is dry, chewy, and lacks flavor. That’s because fibers in the breast become elastic. Tenderiznig will give you more room for error. Chicken in a marinade will not be as chewy if overcooked compared to chicken without marinade.

In this article, I will show you 5 easy ways to make a tender chicken breast in no time.

What is tenderizing?

Tenderizing is a chicken breast preparation method that involves marinating, velveting, pounding, or salting meat to make it more tender and juicy. Home cooks and chefs often use ingredients that contain enzymes and acids, such as buttermilk, yogurt, citrus juice, or vinegar. They break down the proteins in chicken meat, causing the chicken breast to become more tender.

Tenderization should occur before cooking. In simple terms, tenderizing meat 4 hours before cooking is excellent; however, it’s even better if you tenderize the meat overnight.

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How to tenderize chicken breast?

Chicken breast tenderizing methods
Chicken breast tenderizing methods

When tenderizing white meat, it’s best to use boneless skinless chicken breasts. Here are 5 tenderizing methods:

Dry brine

Dry brine is a tenderizing method that involves salting raw chicken breast. Salt draws out moisture from the chicken breast and forms salty moisture. The same moisture is reabsorbed back into the breast and breaks down tough muscle fibers making it tender and juicy. To dry brine a pound of chicken breasts, you’ll need two teaspoons of kosher salt. Rub chicken breasts with kosher salt and place them in a container. Leave it in a fridge for 4 hours, ideally overnight. Before cooking, pat the chicken breast dry to remove excess moisture.

Wet brine

To wet brine the chicken breast, you’ll need 25 grams of kosher salt per liter of water. Dissolve kosher salt in warm water. Submerge the chicken breasts and leave them overnight. If short on time, 4 hours is enough to make the breast tender. Salty water will break down tough muscle fibers making chicken breasts tender and juicy.


Enzymes and acidic marinades work well together to break down and tenderize proteins in chicken meat. Place a pound of chicken breasts in a bowl and pour over 2 cups of buttermilk. Add a teaspoon of kosher salt and mix everything. Buttermilk should cover chicken breasts. Leave it in a fridge overnight to tenderize.

Pound the chicken breast

To tenderize chicken breast, you can use a meat mallet. Pounding meat with a meat mallet will even out the chicken breast texture and make it more tender. Place chicken breast on a cutting board and cover it with plastic wrap to protect the breast from splitting. Pound it gently until even thickness throughout.

Velveted chicken breast

Velveting chicken breast is a process that involves coating chicken breasts with baking soda. It only takes 20-30 minutes. Baking soda raises the pH on the meat’s exterior, making it difficult for the proteins to bond. The chicken breasts become incredibly tender and have a great texture. To tenderize chicken breasts with baking soda, use a teaspoon and a half of baking soda for one pound of chicken. Sprinkle soda over chicken breasts, and using your hands, coat them evenly. Leave it to rest at room temperature for 20-3o minutes. Rinse chicken breast under cold water. Pat chicken breasts dry to remove excess moisture.

Cook at the right temperature tracking time and internal temperature

If tenderizing chicken breast is not an option for you, there’s only one thing to do to ensure the breast is moist and tender – cook at the right temperature, tracking breast cooking time and internal temperature. Internal temperature should not exceed 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The best cooking temperature is between 325 degrees Fahrenheit to 425° Fahrenheit.

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Why should you tenderize chicken breast?

Why to tenderize chicken breast
Tender chicken strips

Eating nice and juicy chicken breasts is so much more delicious. At the same time, tenderized chicken breasts will give you room for error. Stir fry and fried chicken breasts tend to become dry and tasteless; therefore, using one of the tenderizing methods described above is essential. Tenderizing evens out the chicken’s texture and makes it juicier on the inside.


Unlike dark chicken meat, chicken breast (white meat) is slightly tasteless and dry in comparison. It requires tenderizing, and while the process seems difficult, it’s not. Using dry brine to tenderize meat only takes a couple of minutes. Using one of the tenderizing methods described above will ensure you’ll have a tender chicken every time. However, if that does not convince you, at least make sure not to overcook the meat. If you cook chicken breasts past 165° Fahrenheit, they become tough. Use a meat thermometer to track meat’s’s internal temperature.

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