I notice when cooking chicken breast in a pan, or in the oven, the chicken releases a lot of fluid, watering down the flavour.

This happens with fresh chicken as well as frozen (de-frosted) chicken.

How do I prevent this?

  • You tagged this chicken breast but didn't mention that in the question. Are you only asking about chicken breast?
    – Cascabel
    Apr 16, 2015 at 1:52
  • Also I wonder what cooking methods you are using, and whether these are boneless skinless breasts, or what. Apr 16, 2015 at 2:33
  • Corrected. Cooking methods were mentioned, "on iron" is iron-pan, oven is, well, in an oven. :P
    – Gabriel
    Apr 16, 2015 at 3:03
  • 2
    How hot do you get your pan? If the pan's not hot enough, any liquid released from the meat will take a while to evaporate. Chicken breasts require relatively hard, fast cooking. Apr 16, 2015 at 9:32
  • Same question, what are your cooking methods...pan? Pan can mean lots of things, could be either stove top or oven...what temps / stove settings are you using?
    – Escoce
    Apr 16, 2015 at 13:18

7 Answers 7


Moisture-release is not a result of the cooking process but of the quality of the chicken.

Try the following experiment:

  1. Buy halal or kosher chicken breast

  2. Buy the cheapest chicken breast you can find.

Now put two pans on the stove, and put the industrial chicken breast in the left pan and put the kosher/halal in the right. Ensure both pans have the same heat setting, the same amount of fat (I prefer duck fat for frying chicken breast) and watch the amount of moisture coming out of the left one and the fat actually being soaked up by the right one.

So the easiest way to avoid this is to buy good quality chicken...

  • 2
    Have you conducted this experiment? Apr 17, 2015 at 13:17
  • 3
    I've seen various videos showing producers literally "pumping" chickens with water
    – algiogia
    Apr 17, 2015 at 15:58
  • 1
    Yes, soaked in rotating drums. See my comment below Echo's answer.
    – user34961
    Apr 17, 2015 at 19:40
  • 1
    @Fabby - nice redirect. No, I've never butchered or gutted a chicken, home-raised, halal, or otherwise. Apr 18, 2015 at 19:56
  • 1
    No, I think I'll take your word for it, thanks. :-) Apr 19, 2015 at 1:30

It sounds like you're buying a cheaper cut of meat - one that's likely been infused with water to plump and to rapidly chill the meat to a safe temperature after butchery. Look for packages that state 'air-chilled' instead.

  • 1
    Industrial chicken meat is also full of salmonella and other germs due to the extremely unsafe mass-production. The meat is therefore sterilized in a bath of chlorine solution before marketing. Apr 9, 2017 at 9:11
  • 2
    If the manufacturing process was unsafe, they wouldn't be allowed to use it. If the meat is cooked properly, in accordance with best food safety practices, it should be perfectly safe to eat.
    – nick012000
    Dec 20, 2017 at 7:11

Desiccate the outside of the chicken with salt for about 20-60 mins to remove the excess water and then brush off the salt after to make sure it isn't too salty; this should help concentrate the flavour and remove some of the water.

Sear the outside of the chicken on HIGH heat with butter or oil to seal in the juices and flavour.

You can also try dredging the chicken in flour to give it a crust. Cook again in high heat with butter or oil to seal.

Personally I do BOTH the first two options to get a crisp crust and a juicy tender inside but you can very easily do all three.


Most chicken breasts sold (at least the of the cheaper variety) that I have seen, say something about being infused with up to 15% chicken broth. My guess is that most of the water you are seeing is the added chicken broth.

So look at the packaging of the chicken breasts before you buy them. Most of the high quality chicken sold that I have seen do not say that they are infused with chicken broth.

  • 1
    They are not only infused with chicken broth, but worse: with water and added hydrolized proteins (that may be a wrong translation, it's the term used in The Netherlands). See article about the 2003 BBC Panorama program. The proteins are processed beforehand to the point where even DNA analysis cannot determine what animal they come from. I'm unable to find the program itself. Bottom line: buy decent chicken and not the cheap supermarket stuff. Depending on the country (legislation) that information may not be on the packaging.
    – user34961
    Apr 17, 2015 at 19:34
  • Additional info: coveredinbees.org/node/265 , and here is the transcript
    – user34961
    Apr 17, 2015 at 19:47

Since every chicken farmer in America does it (plumping is the industry standard) you should look for a brand that says "no added water" or "no retained water". I have found only 2 brands that say this. One is at Harris Teeter super market.

The industry standard is 12%. That means you must assume all of the chicken is plumped unless it says otherwise. The problem with chicken that is pumped full of water is it never gets to the right temperature for a proper texture, instead it is rubbery and the real chicken flavor is washed away.
If you decide to brine your chicken it will have a hard time absorbing because it is already pumped full of flavorless salt water.


The water infusion described above was news to me, but I have certainly observed this exact same problem when cooking chicken in a sauce (usually curries).

My solution (using cheap frozen chicken breasts that produce a ton of liquid) has been to cook the chicken separately – for example, grilling it on a BBQ or pan-frying it in a separate pan, or even boiling it in broth in a slow-cooker. You don't need to over-cook it, but this gets rid of the excess liquid and then you add it back into the sauce to simmer and you avoid watering the sauce down.


I suggest massaging the meat with flour and letting it absorb it for some time, that is, until the flour absorbs moisture from the meat and changes color from white to yellow-ish, and becomes sticky. This should allow the meat to retain some of the water while cooking.

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