Why Salt And Pepper Is Crucial For Seasoning Chicken Breasts

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

The chicken breast can be a weeknight meal godsend thanks to its versatility and the fact that it works with almost any dietary restrictions. But, whether you're roasting, sautéing, or grilling it, the flavor of these fowl friends can be somewhat elusive, even after a full soak in a marinade. Adding an extra step of salt and peppering may seem redundant, but it's essential when harnessing the full flavor of chicken breasts. 

While these staple spices may not seem quite as alluring or exciting as some other rich hues and exotic names sitting on your shelf, the truth is that salt and pepper are foundational seasonings that allow all the other elements of the dish to sing. America's Test Kitchen also reports that salt breaks down proteins, helping them to retain natural juices during the cooking process, leading to a more flavorful, tender, and juicy experience. 

When to salt and pepper your chicken

Chef Samin Nosrat recommends salting meat while it's still raw with kosher salt, and even letting it soak in overnight, according to her book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Nostrat explains in her book, "Since diffusion is a slow process, seasoning in advance gives salt plenty of time to diffuse evenly throughout the meat." In addition, removing excess moisture from the chicken breast with a paper towel will help you to get perfectly browned, juicy, and tender chicken breasts. 

And, we don't mean to make this all about salt. Freshly ground black pepper is also often a necessary addition to making your chicken breasts perfectly seasoned. Black pepper has been a go-to pairing with salt for centuries, thanks to the popularization from the French chef Francois Pierre de la Varenne, via The History Vault. Black pepper is believed to complement, rather than overpower the flavor of salt. So before you pop the baking sheet into the oven, give it a once-over with the pepper grinder for mouth-watering chicken breasts.