When it comes to cooking chicken, safety is key. Properly cooked chicken ensures that harmful bacteria is eliminated, reducing the risk of foodborne illness. But what is the correct temperature for chicken to be safely cooked through? Let’s explore what the experts have to say on this topic.
How to Check if Chicken is Cooked through
The easiest way to ensure that chicken is cooked to a safe temperature is by using a food thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, making sure it doesn’t touch any bone or fat. The USDA recommends the following safe minimum internal temperatures for chicken:
|Type of Chicken
|Minimum Internal Temperature
|Breasts, Thighs, and Wings
Remember that the temperature may continue to rise for a few minutes after the chicken is removed from the heat, so it’s important to let it rest for at least three minutes before cutting into it.
Factors that Affect Chicken’s Safe Cooking Temperature
While 165°F is the safe minimum internal temperature for chicken, there are other factors that can impact how thoroughly chicken needs to be cooked:
Type of Chicken
The type of chicken you are cooking will impact the necessary cooking temperature. As mentioned above, whole chickens, breasts, thighs, wings, and ground chicken all have a recommended safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. However, cooking times will vary based on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces. For example, a whole chicken will take longer to cook through than a chicken breast.
Fresh vs. Frozen Chicken
If you are cooking frozen chicken, it’s important to thaw it properly before cooking. Never thaw chicken at room temperature, as this can result in harmful bacteria growth. Instead, thaw chicken in the refrigerator or using cold water. It’s also important to note that frozen chicken may require longer cooking times than fresh chicken.
If you live at a high altitude, the lower air pressure can impact the boiling point of water, making it lower than at sea level. This means that it may take longer to cook chicken at high altitude.
Common Misconceptions about Cooking Chicken
There are some common misconceptions about cooking chicken that are important to clear up:
The Color of the Meat
Many people believe that cooked chicken needs to be completely white to be safe to eat. However, this is not necessarily true. The color of the meat can be impacted by a variety of factors, including cooking method and the age of the chicken. The only way to know for sure if chicken is fully cooked and safe to eat is by using a food thermometer.
The Myth of “Juices Running Clear”
Another common misconception is that chicken is safe to eat when the juices run clear. In reality, the color of the juices is not a reliable indicator of whether or not the chicken is cooked through. Once again, using a food thermometer is the only way to know for sure.
Best Practices for Safe Chicken Cooking
Follow these best practices to ensure that your chicken is safely cooked:
- Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken
- Clean all surfaces and utensils that come into contact with raw chicken
- Cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165°F
- Let chicken rest for at least three minutes before cutting into it
Knowing the safe cooking temperature for chicken is key to preventing foodborne illness. Remember to always use a food thermometer and follow best practices for safe cooking. When in doubt, cook the chicken a little longer to ensure it is thoroughly cooked through.
- What is the recommended safe minimum internal temperature for chicken? The USDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
- How do I check if chicken is cooked through? Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken.
- Can chicken still be pink when it is fully cooked? Yes, the color of cooked chicken can vary based on a variety of factors. The only way to know for sure if chicken is cooked through is by using a food thermometer.
- How should I thaw frozen chicken? Thaw chicken in the refrigerator or using cold water. Never thaw chicken at room temperature.
USDA. (2021, February 22). Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures. Food Safety and Inspection Service. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-minimum-internal-temperature-chart