If you are not sure what temperature you should be cooking your chicken at so that it is not only safe to eat, but also juicy, tender, and not dry and overdone, this article is for you.
For juicy meat that is properly cooked, you should be cooking your chicken at 150 F for at least 3 minutes for white meat and at 175 F for dark meat.
This article looks at these numbers more closely and gives you a few tips and tricks on how to cook the juiciest chicken for every meal.
Calculating The Temperature
With so many temperatures to consider when cooking chicken, it can be hard to keep these in mind and understand what part of the meat requires to be cooked at what temperature.
There’s also the preheating temperature, the temperature you need to cook your chicken (known as the internal temperature measured with an instant-red thermometer),
and the minimum safe internal temperature when it comes to respecting food safety.
This also means the temperature your chicken needs to be so that it can kill harmful bacteria it might harbor.
Harmful bacteria of this kind include salmonella, which we all have heard of, and the less common kind, campylobacter. Finally, there is also the chicken temperature for quality purposes.
The breast meat needs to be firm and white, yet not stringy and dry, and the dark meat needs to be tender and not rubbery.
When it comes to calculating the temperature of the chicken, there are different sections of the chicken you need to test.
For dark meat, you need to insert the thermometer into the thigh, whereas for the breast meat, you need to place the thermometer in the thickest section of the breast.
When you are cooking individual breasts, ensure the thermometer enters the flat side as opposed to entering from the top.
How Do I Roast The Perfect Juiciest Chicken?
We are going to go through a step-by-step guide on how to roast a whole chicken. Roasting a whole chicken will yield both dark and white mear that is succulent, tender, and properly cooked.
Great for serving with a roast dinner, chopping up for salads and pasta, or simply as a high-protein snack.
- Preheat your oven, turning the temperature to 500 F.
- Grab your chicken and place it in a large roasting pan with a rack. Season generously with kosher salt and any other seasoning you like with chicken.
- Insert a digital probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set it to give you a heads-up when the internal temperature climbs to 162 F.
- Transfer the chicken to the oven and turn the temperature down from 500 F to 350 F immediately.
- Wait for around 90 minutes for the alarm on the thermometer to beep and tell you the chicken is at 162 F.
- Take out the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Leave the probe inside the breast.
- After the 30 minutes have passed, carve and serve to guests.
Resting The Meat After Roasting
After you have roasted the chicken, it’s time to rest. During this period, you will notice the temperature on the thermometer display rise and fall back down again.
When it completes the rising and dips down to 120 F, it’s the perfect temperature to start carving.
As a result of the rising temperature of the roasted chicken, if you pull it out when the breast is at 162 F, and give it at least 30 minutes to rest, the breast meat will remain above 165 F for more than 8.4 minutes, which is what is required.
This will make it juicy, tender, and most importantly, safe to eat. Similarly, the dark meat will peak at about 200 F. This makes it more than sufficient for the collagen in the meat to break down.
This gives it that flavorsome taste, as well as ensures it is tender and juicy to eat.
The temperatures and times we have listed above only refer to roasting a whole chicken. The mass of the whole chicken gives it chance to hole those temperatures, even whilst resting.
This means when you roast individual chicken breasts or different cuts of the meat, it would not work the same way as there is a lot less meat to work with.
Cooking Times for Different Cuts
Since the cut of chicken will alter how long you cook the meat, we have included this handy guide on how to adjust the cooking time for each different section of the chicken.
Cooking for the right time means you will reach the safest internal temperature each time and still end with tender juicy meat.
Remember, no matter the variable, you need to check the chicken is done using a meat thermometer to recognize the internal temperature, with whichever cut of the meat you are cooking.
Bone-in Breast Halves = 30-60 minutes
Boneless Breast Halves = 30 minutes
Wings = 30-40 minutes
Thighs = 40-50 minutes
Bone-in Breast Halves = 35-40 minutes
Boneless Breast Halves = 25-30 minutes
Wings = 35-45 minutes
Thighs = 40-50 minutes
Bone-in Breast Halves = 45-55 minutes
Boneless Breast Halves = 6 minutes per side
Wings = 15 minutes per side
Thighs = 12 minutes per side
When it comes to white meat doneness, the ASDA recommends that chicken and other forms of poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 F for at least 30 seconds, at a minimum.
However, as a result of carry-over cooking, if you pull out the breast of the chicken when its internal temperature reaches 162 F,
the chicken will keep its heat and continue rising in temperature to reach 165 F. This avoids accidentally overcooking and drying out the meat.
Dark meat such as chicken thighs usually tastes a lot better when they are cooked to a higher temperature than the breast. As a result of their high amounts of connective tissue, they taste great when cooked to 175 – 180 F.
Cooking thigh meat to 165 F will only result in thick, rubbery meat that is too chewy to eat, whereas cooking it to 175 – 180 F, it will be juicy and tender. This is because the collagen melts and turns to gelatin.
Sous Vide Chicken Breasts
There is one technique worth mentioning when it comes to cooking individual cuts of chicken, and that is the sous vide chicken breast method.
Cooking certain cuts at a certain temperature, and holding them at that temperature is called sous vide cooking. With this method, you need to heat your chicken breast to 165 F for as long as you want.
The advantage of sous vide is that despite how long you leave it in the water bath, your breast will not reach a high temperature than what you set it to, whether this is 165 F, hotter, or lower.
This means with minimal effort, you still get that same juicy, tender breast meat.
We hope by reading this article you have learned how to cook chicken at the perfect temperature to ensure every time, you end up with juicy, tasty, and tender meat.
Remember the white and dark meat requires different temperatures for the best results and the timing and temperature will differ depending on whether you are roasting an individual chicken breast, a separate cut of the meat, or a whole chicken.
You could even try the sous vide method for an easy way of reaching 165 F and finish with juicy, tender meat with minimal effort. Add your juicy chicken to your favorite dinner or pop a few slices in a sandwich and you’re good to go!