Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and lay a large piece of plastic wrap over the top to guard against splatters. With a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the breasts into an even thickness.
Pat the chicken breasts dry on both sides.
TO DRY BRINE: Sprinkle the breasts generously on both sides with salt. Place in the refrigerator uncovered for 30 minutes or up to 1 day.
TO WET BRINE: In a large bowl, stir together the warm water and salt. Place the chicken breasts in the water and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
TO COOK: Preheat the oven to 425°F. If the chicken is in the refrigerator, remove it. If dry brining, with a paper towel, wipe off the salt well from both sides (I do not rinse my dry brine). If wet brining, remove the chicken from the wet brine and rinse it off (to skip the rinse, omit any remaining salt from the recipe; your chicken will be salty but by no means inedible).
Pat the chicken very dry on both sides, wiping away any clearly visible salt. If the chicken has been in the refrigerator, let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Coat a ceramic or metal baking dish large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer (such as a 9x13-inch baking dish) with nonstick spray. (I do not recommend using glass/Pyrex, as the way it conducts heat will not cook the chicken as evenly. If needed, you can bake the chicken on a metal baking sheet.)
Place the chicken in a large bowl (if wet brining, rinse out, dry, and reuse the same bowl if you like). Add the olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt (only add the salt if you rinsed your chicken), and pepper. Toss to coat the chicken evenly, then arrange it in the baking dish.
Bake the chicken for 14 to 16 minutes (for small/medium breasts that are about 6 to 7 ounces), 16 to 20 minutes (for medium/large breasts that are 8 to 10 ounces), or 20 to 25 minutes (for larger breasts). For absolute best results, use an instant read thermometer. When the breasts reach 165°F, they are done.
REST: Transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board. Cover and let rest for a minimum of 5 minutes. Slice, dice, or shred as desired. Enjoy!
*Feel free to swap out these seasonings for the suggestions in the blog post above.
Debating between a wet and dry brine? See the blog post above for the pros and cons of each.
If your chicken breast comes pre-brined (sometimes it is sold this way) skip the brining step.
TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken breast in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm chicken in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F.
TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.