How can you know when chicken is cooked thoroughly? Check out a few tips we've put together to help you get the perfect result every time.
Preparing a meal is an exciting experience. Whether you're trying new recipes, or tried-and-true favorites, trying the finished result of your efforts is rewarding and tasty.
Certain dishes call for special care when cooking, especially concerning chicken. Cooking chicken dishes to the perfect temperature is essential for safety and taste.
Let's look at how you can cook chicken so that it's safe to eat and mouth-wateringly delicious.
The Low-Down on Calculating Chicken Cooking Temperatures
Sometimes, prepping your chicken dishes can be confusing, but it doesn't have to be. You might find yourself wondering if you've cooked your piece of meat thoroughly enough or if it needs to remain in the oven or on the grill for longer. At the same time, you don't want to run the risk of burning your food.
The long story short is that you should cook dark meat and light meat chicken to at least 165º to prevent harmful bacteria. Doing this can help you to avoid salmonella and other food-borne illnesses.
Let's look at a few simple tips that can allow you to cook your chicken dishes to perfection while maintaining food safety. It all starts with a reliable meat thermometer.
Insert the Thermometer Into the Thickest Part of the Chicken
If you're not sure that your chicken is done yet, use a meat thermometer to check.
If your dish is in the oven, you may be tempted to check the temperature of the outer border of the chicken, but that won't give you the most accurate result. Instead, safely position your chicken so that you can check the temperature in the thickest area to get a precise read on its internal temperature. This method is the most reliable way to check on your chicken's doneness, whether you're dealing with bone-in or boneless chicken.
Reset Your Thermometer From Time to Time
Every now and then, you may need to recalibrate your thermometer to ensure you can rely on its readings. To do this, you can fill a container with ice water and submerge your thermometer for thirty seconds. If its reading is 32º, you're in good hands. You can adjust some thermometers manually if the reading on the ice water is incorrect.
Suppose you can't adjust your thermometer, or it's continually giving you an inaccurate temperature reading. In that case, it may be time to purchase a new one.
Clean Your Thermometer Properly
After using your thermometer on your chicken breast, wings, thighs, or dark meat chicken, you'll want to clean it well. Wash your thermometer in hot water with soap after every use. By doing this, you can avoid cross-contamination and enjoy your food safely.
Common Questions for Cooking Poultry
Trying out recipes for different chicken dishes can be rewarding! While doing so, you might have a few more questions that pop into your head. Here are a few answers to the questions you may have about cooking chicken thoroughly.
Why Is a Safe Internal Temperature Important?
Cooking chicken to a safe internal temperature is essential for several reasons. First, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a temperature recommendation of 165º minimum for cooking all poultry products, such as chicken and turkey.
Unlike beef or lamb, you can’t cook chicken to medium rare—that would just be raw chicken. For safety’s sake, you have to be particularly careful when cooking it.
Getting your meat to the correct temperature means more than simply setting the oven and walking away. To get the proper internal temperature, you'll want to use a meat thermometer to ensure your dish has heated to your intended temperature.
What's the Ideal Chicken Temp?
When cooking chicken for a recipe, you likely want your meat to be tender and tasty. Overcooking your cut of meat could cause your dish to taste dry (and nobody wants that.)
You can cook your chicken on a stovetop or in the oven. In an oven, you may set your temperature anywhere between 325º and 500º, depending on the dish. To get your meat to a temperature that's both safe to eat and still delicious, you can try one of these methods:
- White meat: Cook the breast meat or wings to at least 162º internally. When you take the meat away from the heat source, it will continue to cook for a few minutes, bringing the temperature to a safe 165º.
- Dark meat: This meat contains more tendons and connective tissue. You'll probably enjoy your chicken more if you heat it to an internal temperature of 175º-180º. Below that, it may taste chewy, but the connective tissue and collagen can melt into a gelatin substance for a better texture at that range.
Can I Ever Skip Using a Thermometer?
Cooking myths circulate all the time. Although people may have little tricks that help them to feel comfortable in the kitchen, it's a good idea to double-check your facts from time to time.
For example, have you ever heard the tip that you can cook chicken until its juice runs clear? While this might sound like a helpful tip, it's not entirely truthful. Chicken cooked past a safe temperature can still have some color to its juice, and undercooked chicken can run clear. It's a misleading tip.
Another tip you might have heard is that you can eye-ball your chicken to see when it's done. Some people think that by looking at the color of the chicken, you can tell whether it's safe to eat. Although this might sound like an easy way to judge your meat, it's not the safest method and can lead to food-borne illnesses. The best way to tell whether your chicken is safe to eat is to use your internal thermometer.
Should I Let My Chicken Rest?
After you reach 165 degrees and pull your meat from its heat source, you may want to let it sit for a moment. Taking it off the heat and waiting a few minutes before cutting the meat is called resting. It allows the juices in the chicken to soak into every part of the meat so that you can enjoy it.
Recipes To Follow for Delicious Chicken Meals
Are you ready to put your chicken cooking chops to the test? Here are a few of our recipes to try to make quick, easy meals with perfectly-cooked chicken.
- Chicken Tikka Masala: Enjoy marinated boneless chicken cubes, rice, and an exciting mixture of spices.
- Lemon Chicken and Spinach Pasta: This creamy recipe is a perfect go-to option when you're craving a hearty pasta dish. Enjoy zesty flavors with thin strips of chicken.
- Roasted Whole Chicken and Potatoes: When you want a classic home-cooked meal, you can't go wrong with roast chicken and potatoes. This savory meal might just have your mouth watering.
- Balsamic Chicken and Pine Nut Salad: Perhaps you're craving something light and fresh. In that case, a perfectly-tossed salad with savory chicken thighs and balsamic glaze is the perfect option.
- Teriyaki Chicken Skewers & Fried Rice: In this dish, let your tastebuds come alive with the sweetness from the teriyaki & nuttiness from the sesame coated chicken. There's something playful & fun about eating dinner on a stick.
Don't Worry About The Grocery List
Cooking might feel daunting at times, but the truth is that you might just need some assistance simplifying your shopping and preparation. That's where Jow comes in. We want to help you put together fast, easy meals that are fun to make and eat.
Our shopping lists are optimized to your household size, preferences, and cooking appliances to help you cut down the time you'd ordinarily spend crafting a grocery list. You can skip to the fun part of cooking – we'll do all the planning, recipe testing, and even add ingredients to a local shopping cart for you. You can add a few household essential items, select delivery or pickup, and be on your way to delicious meals in no time.