It’s important for food safety and taste that chicken is cooked to the right internal temperature. This detailed guide will tell you the internal temperatures of different cuts of chicken, how to cook them with recommended oven temperatures, and give you a chart with cooking times for chicken. We’ll also tell you how to cook chicken so that it tastes the best and answer some of the most common questions.
Ideal Internal Temperatures for Various Chicken Cuts
1. Chicken Breast Internal Temperature:
The internal temperature of a chicken breast should reach 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption. Cooking to this temperature will ensure that the meat is cooked through and remains juicy.
Chicken thighs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Thighs have a higher fat content than breasts, which makes them more forgiving and less likely to dry out.
Chicken wings need to reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are safe to eat. Cooking to this temperature will result in tender, juicy wings.
4. Chicken Legs Internal Temperature:
Chicken legs, which consist of the thigh and drumstick, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption. This will ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly and remains moist.
5. Chicken Drumsticks Internal Temp:
Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) when cooking drumsticks. Cooking to this temperature will ensure that the meat is both safe to eat and retains its juiciness.
6. Chicken Tenders Internal Temperature :
Chicken tenders should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). This temperature ensures that the meat is safe to eat and maintains a tender texture.
How to Use a Thermometer
Insert the thermometer’s probe into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. Wait for the temperature to stabilize before reading it. Make sure the internal temperature reaches the recommended 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.
How to Know When Chicken is Done without a Thermometer
- Visual cues: Cooked chicken should have an opaque, white appearance, and the juices should run clear when you cut into it.
- Touch: Firmness can indicate doneness. Cooked chicken should feel firm when pressed, while undercooked chicken will feel more soft and springy.
Tips for Cooking Chicken to the Perfect Internal Temperature
- Preheat the oven or grill: Make sure your cooking appliance is preheated to the appropriate temperature before adding the chicken. This helps with even cooking and better temperature control.
- Use a reliable meat thermometer: Invest in a good-quality digital meat thermometer to accurately measure the internal temperature of your chicken. This will help you ensure it’s cooked safely and maintains its tenderness and juiciness.
- Let the chicken rest: After cooking, allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before cutting or serving. This will help the juices redistribute and result in a more flavorful and tender chicken.
- Avoid overcooking: Overcooked chicken can become dry and tough. Keep an eye on your cooking times and use a meat thermometer to prevent overcooking.
- Choose the right cooking method: Different cuts of chicken are better suited for different cooking methods. For example, chicken breasts are great for poaching or grilling, while whole chickens are best roasted or slow-cooked.
Cooking Methods, Oven Temperatures, and Cooking Times
1. Baking or Roasting
Baking or roasting chicken is a popular method that involves cooking the chicken in the oven. Preheat your oven to the following temperatures depending on the chicken cut:
When you broil chicken, you put it right under the broiler element in your oven and cook it. This method works well for breasts, thighs, and wings, which are all smaller pieces of meat. Set your oven to broil and heat it for 5 minutes before adding the chicken. How Long To Bake Chicken Pieces in the Oven:
- Chicken breasts: 5-7 minutes per side
- Chicken thighs: 6-8 minutes per side
- Chicken wings: 8-10 minutes per side
Chicken cooked on a grill over direct heat is a popular choice for a meal cooked outside. Grilling is best done at a medium-high temperature, so get it up to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 ° C). How Long To Grill Chicken Pieces:
- Chicken breasts: 6-8 minutes per side
- Chicken thighs: 7-10 minutes per side
- Chicken wings: 6-8 minutes per side
- Chicken legs (thigh and drumstick): 10-12 minutes per side
Pan-frying is a stovetop method where the chicken is cooked in a small amount of oil. For this method, preheat a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, add oil, and then cook the chicken until it reaches the desired internal temperature. How Long To cook Chicken Pieces in Pan or Stove:
Poaching involves gently cooking the chicken in a liquid, such as water, broth, or a combination of both, on the stovetop. This method is suitable for chicken breasts or tenders. Heat the liquid to a simmer (about 180°F or 82°C) and maintain this temperature while cooking the chicken. How Long To Poach Chicken Pieces:
- Chicken breasts: 15-20 minutes
- Chicken tenders: 10-15 minutes
6. Slow Cooking
In a slow cooker or crockpot, chicken is cooked slowly. Set the slow cooker to low (200°F or 93°C) or high (300°F or 149°C), depending on your recipe and how long you want to cook it. Cut and temperature affect how long it takes to cook. How Long To Cook chicken cuts in Slow Cooker:
- Whole chicken: 4-5 hours on low
- Chicken breasts: 2-3 hours on low
- Chicken thighs: 3-4 hours on low
- Chicken legs (thigh and drumstick): 4-5 hours on low
- Chicken wings: 2-3 hours on low
Is 145°F safe for chicken?
No, chicken shouldn’t be eaten until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to kill any harmful bacteria and make sure it’s safe to eat.
Is it OK to eat chicken that’s a little pink?
The chicken is safe to eat as long as its internal temperature is at least 165°F (74°C). Sometimes the chicken is pink because of how it was cooked or because that is its natural color. This does not mean that the chicken was not cooked enough.
Is chicken safe at 155°F?
No 155°F is not safe. Chicken should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for food safety reasons.
Does chicken really need to be 165°F?
Yes, the USDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed and the chicken is safe to eat.
Why is chicken still bloody at 165°F?
Sometimes, the blood vessels in the chicken can leak during cooking, causing the appearance of blood. As long as the chicken has reached an internal temperature, it is safe to eat.
Where do you stick a thermometer in chicken?
Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, avoiding any bones. For whole chickens, check the temperature in both the breast and thigh areas.