[GUIDE] How Long To Bake Chicken At 400 In Oven

how long to bake chicken at in oven

Baking chicken at 400 degrees in the oven is a popular cooking method that can result in juicy and flavorful chicken. However, to achieve the best results, it is important to understand the science behind cooking chicken and follow certain guidelines. In this article, we will delve into the ideal cooking temperature, cooking time, techniques, troubleshooting tips, and more to help you successfully bake chicken at 400 degrees in the oven.

Quick Answer: How Long To Bake Chicken At 400 In The Oven

To bake chicken at 400 degrees in the oven, the recommended cooking time is approximately 25-30 minutes. However, this can vary depending on the thickness and cut of the chicken. It is crucial to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches a safe minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Key Takeaways

  • Baking chicken at 400 degrees in the oven typically takes around 25-30 minutes, but this can vary.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken, which should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Proper preparation, including marinating or seasoning the chicken, is essential for flavor and tenderness.
  • Choose the right type and cut of chicken for baking to achieve the desired results.
  • Monitoring the chicken during baking and using appropriate cooking techniques will help you avoid dryness or undercooked chicken.

The Science Of Cooking Chicken


Understanding the science behind cooking chicken is key to achieving the best results. Chicken is primarily composed of protein, which undergoes structural changes when cooked. These changes affect the texture and moisture content of the meat. Additionally, cooking chicken to the right internal temperature is crucial from a food safety standpoint to eliminate the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Choosing Chicken

Before diving into the baking process, it is important to choose the right type and cut of chicken. Different cuts have varying levels of tenderness and require different cooking times. Here are a few popular chicken cuts for baking:

  1. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: These are lean cuts that cook relatively quickly. They are great for those seeking a healthier option.

  2. Chicken thighs: Thighs have more intramuscular fat, making them more flavorful and forgiving when it comes to cooking. They tend to stay juicy and moist during baking.

  3. Whole chicken: Baking a whole chicken can be a more time-consuming process, but it allows for more flavor and versatility. It is a great option for special occasions or when feeding a larger group.

When selecting chicken, ensure it is fresh and free from any abnormal odors or discoloration. Look for chicken that has a pinkish hue and firm texture.

Preparing Chicken


Properly preparing the chicken before baking is essential for flavor and tenderness. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Thaw the chicken: If using frozen chicken, ensure it is completely thawed before baking. Thawing in the refrigerator is the safest method and helps the chicken cook more evenly.

  2. Season or marinate the chicken: You can enhance the flavor of the chicken by seasoning it with herbs, spices, or marinades. This can be done anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight, depending on the recipe and desired flavors.

  3. Pat the chicken dry: Before placing the chicken in the oven, make sure to pat it dry with a paper towel. This step helps create a crispier skin and improves browning.

  4. Preheat the oven: It is crucial to preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit before placing the chicken inside. This ensures even cooking and allows the chicken to develop a golden crust.

Ideal Cooking Temperature For Chicken

Cooking chicken to the ideal internal temperature is essential for both taste and food safety. The USDA recommends cooking chicken to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) to eliminate harmful bacteria such as salmonella.

To measure the internal temperature accurately, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, avoiding contact with bones. Make sure the thermometer is not touching any pan or oven surface. The chicken is safe to eat when it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chicken Cooking Time

close up view of oven cooked chicken

The cooking time for chicken at 400 degrees in the oven can vary depending on several factors, such as the thickness and cut of the chicken, oven calibration, and personal preference for doneness.

Here are some general guidelines for cooking times based on chicken cuts:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Approximately 20-25 minutes.
  • Chicken thighs: Approximately 25-30 minutes.
  • Whole chicken: Approximately 20 minutes per pound.

It is essential to note that these times are approximate and should be used as a starting point. The safest and most accurate way to determine if chicken is fully cooked is by using a meat thermometer, as mentioned earlier.

Cooking Techniques

To achieve the best results when baking chicken at 400 degrees in the oven, it is important to employ certain cooking techniques. Here are some techniques to consider:

  1. Searing: For a golden and crispy exterior, consider searing the chicken on the stovetop before transferring it to the oven. This technique helps lock in the juices and enhances the overall texture.

  2. Basting: Basting the chicken with pan drippings or marinade during baking can add flavor and moisture. Use a spoon or a basting brush to lightly coat the chicken while it cooks.

  3. Broiling: For some extra browning and crispy skin, you can broil the chicken for a few minutes after baking. However, be cautious not to overcook the chicken, as broiling can quickly lead to burning.

  4. Resting: After removing the chicken from the oven, let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more flavorful and moist chicken.

Monitoring And Troubleshooting

close up view of oven cooked chicken

Monitoring the chicken during baking is essential to avoid undercooking or overcooking. Here are some tips for monitoring and troubleshooting:

  • Use an oven-safe meat thermometer to regularly check the internal temperature of the chicken during cooking.
  • If the chicken is browning too quickly on the outside but is not fully cooked on the inside, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until the desired internal temperature is reached.
  • If the chicken is not browning enough, consider increasing the oven temperature to 425 degrees for the final few minutes of cooking.
  • If the chicken is cooking too quickly and has reached the desired internal temperature before the recommended cooking time, loosely tent it with foil to prevent overcooking.

Chicken Cooking Instructions

Now that we have covered the essentials, here are step-by-step instructions for baking chicken at 400 degrees in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).

  2. If desired, season or marinate the chicken with your choice of herbs, spices, or marinades. Allow the chicken to marinate for the desired amount of time.

  3. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture and improve browning.

  4. Place the chicken on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, ensuring there is enough space between the pieces for even cooking.

  5. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, avoiding contact with bones.

  6. Place the chicken in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius).

  7. Monitor the chicken closely, checking the internal temperature periodically.

  8. Once the chicken reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.


oven baked chicken

Baking chicken at 400 degrees in the oven allows for numerous variations to suit different preferences and cuisines. Here are a few ideas:

  • For added flavor, consider using a dry rub or marinade with your favorite spices and herbs. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite flavor profile.
  • If you prefer a crispy skin, place the chicken on a wire rack on the baking sheet to allow for better air circulation around the chicken.
  • You can add vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, or Brussels sprouts, to the same baking sheet for a one-pan meal. Ensure that the vegetables are cut into appropriate sizes to cook evenly with the chicken.

When Things Go Wrong

Even with proper techniques, things can sometimes go wrong when baking chicken at 400 degrees in the oven. Here are a couple of common issues and how to address them:

  1. Dry chicken: Overcooking can lead to dry chicken. To salvage slightly overcooked chicken, try adding a sauce or broth to enhance moisture. Alternatively, consider slicing the chicken and using it in sandwiches, wraps, or salads where added dressings can compensate for dryness.

  2. Undercooked chicken: If the chicken is undercooked but has reached a safe internal temperature, you can slice it into smaller pieces and return it to the oven for additional baking until fully cooked. Covering it with foil can help prevent excessive browning.

Serving Chicken

oven baked chicken

Once your chicken is perfectly cooked, it’s time to serve it! Here are a few serving suggestions:

  • Pair the baked chicken with your favorite side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, salad, or rice pilaf.
  • Garnish the chicken with fresh herbs, lemon slices, or a drizzle of sauce to enhance the presentation and flavors.
  • Leftover baked chicken can be used for sandwiches, wraps, salads, or even added to soups or stir-fries.

Best Practices For Chicken Cooking

To ensure consistently delicious results when baking chicken at 400 degrees in the oven, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature for doneness.
  • Preparing the chicken with seasonings or marinades adds depth of flavor.
  • Patting the chicken dry before baking helps achieve crispier and browner skin.
  • Resting the chicken before slicing allows for optimal juiciness and flavor.


Baking chicken at 400 degrees in the oven is a versatile and delicious way to prepare tender and juicy chicken. By understanding the science of cooking chicken, choosing the right cut, and following proper cooking techniques, you can achieve excellent results. Remember to monitor the internal temperature with a meat thermometer and adjust cooking times accordingly. With the guidelines and variations provided in this article, you can confidently bake chicken at 400 degrees in the oven while enjoying flavorful and perfectly cooked chicken every time.


What Are The Recommended Cooking Times For Baking Chicken At 400°F In The Oven?

The general rule of thumb is to cook whole, bone-in chicken breasts for approximately 20-25 minutes, boneless skinless chicken breasts for 15-20 minutes, drumsticks for 30-35 minutes, and chicken thighs for 35-40 minutes. These times may vary depending on the size of the chicken pieces and your oven’s accuracy, so it’s always best to use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Should You Cook Chicken On A Baking Sheet Or In A Baking Dish?

Either option works well for baking chicken at 400°F in the oven. A baking sheet allows for more even cooking and crispier skin, while a baking dish may retain more moisture and flavor. Be sure to line the baking sheet or dish with parchment paper or non-stick spray to prevent sticking.

Should You Cover Chicken When Baking It In The Oven At 400°F?

It’s generally not necessary to cover chicken when baking it at 400°F in the oven, but if you’re concerned about the chicken drying out, you can cover it loosely with foil for the first 10-15 minutes of cooking. Just be sure to remove the foil for the last 5-10 minutes to allow the skin to crisp up.

Can You Bake Chicken From Frozen At 400°F In The Oven?

It’s not recommended to bake chicken from frozen, as it may lead to uneven cooking and potentially dangerous bacteria growth. It’s best to thaw chicken in the refrigerator before cooking.

How Do You Know When The Chicken Is Done Baking At 400°F In The Oven?

The best way to check if the chicken is fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can also check for clear juices when you cut into the thickest part of the chicken, or make sure there is no pinkness near the bones.

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  • About the Author Jenny

    I'm Jenny, a housewife with an unwavering passion for food. My culinary journey began with my grandmother's kitchen, and it's now a full-fledged food blog. I've turned my love for cooking into a creative outlet, sharing recipes and stories with a global community of fellow food enthusiasts. It's proof that being a housewife can also mean pursuing your passions and savoring life's delectable moments.