Once you take the first step to getting more lean protein in your diet from chicken, you're ready for the next step. Cooking chicken breasts in the oven without oil keeps the calorie count low. What's more, you have some options in just how to cook baked chicken that is both healthy and delicious.
Benefits of No Oil
With about 120 calories in each tablespoon of canola oil, olive oil, safflower or sunflower oil, any oil adds calories to chicken without adding vitamins or minerals. You can get the rich taste and beneficial fatty acids the olive oil or canola oil provide by using other ingredients instead. Add sauces and garnishes with beneficial fatty acids and nutrition, such as sliced olives, toasted walnuts, avocado slices or a fruit chutney.
Line the Pan
Oil keeps chicken from sticking to the pan during baking, but you have options when it comes to this pesky problem. You could simply push a little harder with your spatula when removing the breasts from the pan to un-stick them. Or, you could line the pan with foil or parchment paper. Foil has the added advantage of making cleanup easy too, since you can just roll it up and toss it away.
Adding even just a little liquid to the roasting pan will help keep the chicken breast from sticking. An even bigger advantage is that you'll have the flavorful foundation for a sauce for the finished chicken. Use a few tablespoons to 1/4 cup of chicken stock, opting for the low sodium kind to keep the sauce healthy. While the chicken is out of the oven resting, add a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard, some dried thyme, crushed rosemary, a pinch of salt and a little white wine or lemon juice to the liquid in the roasting pan. Cook the ingredients down until the sauce thickens slightly, and pour the sauce over the chicken to serve.
Keep the Skin On
It may be had to believe, but keeping the skin on your chicken breast not only keeps it from sticking, but is actually a healthy alternative to a skinless breast. A chicken breast cooked without the skin contains 146 calories and 1.73 grams of fat. But a chicken breast cooked with the skin contains less calories and fats, 134 calories and 1.37 grams of fat, once the skin is removed after cooking.
Times and Temps
As they say in product warranties, your results may vary. The size of the breasts and whether they are bone-in or boneless both affect the amount of cooking time. Generally speaking, the breasts will take 15 to 20 minutes cooked in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven and 10 minutes resting out of the oven covered with foil. The only guaranteed way to know when the chicken is done and to avoid dangerous bacteria is to check the breast with an instant-read meat thermometer. The chicken should register 165 degrees Fahrenheit when you insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast.
- Today: Beyond Olive: 9 Healthy Oils for Cooking, Salad Dressings and More
- UC Davis Integrative Medicine: How to Cook Without Oil (and Never EVER Miss It!)
- Diabetes Strong: How to Bake Chicken Breast in the Oven (So It’s Always Juicy)
- Chicken Farmers of Canada: New Study Shows How to Cook Healthy Chicken With Skin On
- Better Homes & Gardens: How to Bake Chicken Breast
- Foodsafety.gov: Meat and Poultry Roasting Chart
- U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA Branded Food Products Database: Full Report (All Nutrients): 45239582, O OLIVE OIL, OLIVE OIL, UPC: 634039000221
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.