The Secret to Juicy and Flavorful Airline Chicken Breasts: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re a fan of restaurant-quality chicken dishes, you’ve probably heard of airline chicken breasts. Despite their name, these cuts of chicken are not exclusive to in-flight meals. Airline chicken breasts are a unique preparation method that ensures juicy, tender, and flavorful chicken every time. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of airline chicken breasts, exploring what they are, why they’re so special, and how to cook them to perfection.

What Are Airline Chicken Breasts?

Airline chicken breasts, also known as chicken supremes or chicken breasts with the drumette attached, are a specific cut of chicken that includes the entire breast portion with the wing drumette still connected. This preparation method originated in the airline industry, where pre-cooked meals needed to be prepared well in advance while maintaining a delicious and moist texture.

The drumette, or the first portion of the chicken wing, acts as a built-in basting brush, continuously basting the breast meat with its own juices during cooking. This ingenious technique helps to lock in moisture and flavor, resulting in a succulent and tender chicken breast that’s nearly impossible to overcook.

Why Cook Airline Chicken Breasts?

There are several reasons why airline chicken breasts have become a favorite among home cooks and professional chefs alike:

  1. Moisture Retention: The attached drumette acts as a natural baster, keeping the breast meat moist and juicy throughout the cooking process.

  2. Flavor Infusion: As the drumette cooks, its flavorful juices and rendered fat continuously baste the breast, infusing it with incredible flavor.

  3. Elegant Presentation: The unique shape and appearance of airline chicken breasts make for an impressive and visually appealing dish, perfect for special occasions or entertaining.

  4. Versatility: Airline chicken breasts can be prepared using various cooking methods, such as pan-searing, roasting, or grilling, and can be seasoned or stuffed with a variety of ingredients to suit different flavor profiles.

How to Cook Airline Chicken Breasts

Now that you understand the benefits of airline chicken breasts, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of preparing this delicious dish.


  • 2 whole chicken breasts, with skin on and drumette attached
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare the Chicken Breasts:

    • Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, carefully remove the chicken breasts from the carcass, keeping the drumette attached.
    • Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Sear the Chicken:

    • Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large oven-safe skillet or pan over medium-high heat.
    • Once the butter has melted and the pan is hot, add the seasoned chicken breasts, skin-side down.
    • Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and golden brown.
  3. Flip and Baste:

    • Carefully flip the chicken breasts over, basting them with the pan juices.
    • Add the minced garlic, thyme, and rosemary to the pan, allowing the aromatics to infuse the chicken with flavor.
    • Continue cooking for an additional 5-7 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices.
  4. Finish in the Oven (Optional):

    • If desired, transfer the skillet to a preheated oven (400°F/200°C) and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
    • Baste the chicken breasts with the pan juices every 5 minutes.
  5. Rest and Serve:

    • Remove the chicken breasts from the oven (or pan) and transfer them to a cutting board or plate.
    • Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before slicing or serving.
    • Serve the airline chicken breasts with your favorite sides, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a fresh salad.

Tips and Variations:

  • Stuffing: For an extra-special touch, you can stuff the airline chicken breasts with a flavorful filling, such as spinach and feta cheese, mushroom duxelles, or herb butter.
  • Brining: Brining the chicken breasts before cooking can help to further enhance their moisture and flavor.
  • Marinade: Marinating the chicken breasts in your favorite marinade or dry rub can infuse them with additional flavors.
  • Grilling: Airline chicken breasts can also be grilled for a smoky, charred flavor. Adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly.
  • Sauces: Complement your airline chicken breasts with a variety of sauces, such as a rich pan sauce, creamy mushroom sauce, or a tangy lemon-butter sauce.

With their built-in basting mechanism and impressive presentation, airline chicken breasts are a true culinary delight. Whether you’re cooking for a special occasion or simply want to elevate your weeknight dinner, this preparation method is sure to impress. So, why not give it a try and experience the juicy, flavorful goodness of airline chicken breasts for yourself?

How to cook Airline Chicken Breasts — Look What’s Cookin’- Culinary Institute of Virginia


What is the difference between an airline chicken breast and a regular chicken breast?

Airline chicken breast consists of a bone-in or boneless skin-on chicken breast that has the drumette attached. “Having the drumette still attached to the chicken breast is what makes this cut different than your average chicken breast,” says Colton Rockwell, marketing and operations manager for Porter & York.

What is another name for airline chicken breast?

The airline chicken breast is also known as “statler chicken”, a name which originated from the Boston Hotel Statler, built in 1927 by E.M. Statler. A chicken dish stating it is “Statler” simply means it is a breast of chicken with the drumette still attached.

What is airline cut chicken breast?

Airline chicken or airline chicken breast is a cut of chicken composed of the boneless chicken breast with the drumette attached. The breast is skin-on, and the first wing joint and tendon are attached while the rest of the breast is boneless.

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