Chicken Temp

Chicken Temperatures: What Is The Best Temperature To Cook Chicken?

Chicken is a versatile and popular protein that can be prepared in various ways. However, ensuring that chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature is crucial to prevent foodborne illnesses. In the blog below, we will explore the safe cooking temperatures for different cuts of chicken, how to check the chicken temperature accurately, and cooking times for various chicken cuts. 

What is a Safe Cooking Temperature for Chicken?

To guarantee that chicken is safe to eat, it must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). This temperature eliminates any potentially dangerous bacteria from the chicken.

If chicken is undercooked to the proper temperature, it can lead to the risk of Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. Salmonella is a bacteria commonly found in raw poultry and can cause serious symptoms if consumed.

How to Check the Temperature of Chicken

To ensure accurate readings, use a reliable food thermometer. Firstly, you insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, avoiding bones and any areas with stuffing. Ensure that the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan because this can give an inaccurate reading. Depending on the size and type of chicken, cooking times will differ. For instance, whole chickens will take longer to cook compared to chick cuts or boneless, skinless breasts. 

The best advice is to follow the recommended cooking times and temperatures provided in recipes or by the USDA. You should thaw your chicken before cooking. 

Chicken Internal Temp

Here is a list of cooking temperatures and times for the most popular cuts of chicken: 

Whole Chicken Temp

It is necessary to check the temperature in multiple places to ensure even cooking when you cook a whole chicken. The thigh (the thickest part of the chicken) should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Fahrenheit if stuffed. You should prepare the stuffing separately to avoid any risk of foodborne illnesses from uneven cooking.

To know the whole chicken is done, the thermometer should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part of the chicken (180 degrees Fahrenheit if stuffed). 

When the flesh is pierced, the internal juices should run clear instead of red or pink. And the meat should be white. 

  • Roasted Whole Chicken Cook Time should be around 20 minutes per pound; 1 hour 40 minutes (2 hours 10 minutes if stuffed) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 lb. chicken
  • Grilled Whole Chicken Cook Time should be approximately 1 hour 25 minutes for 4 lb. chicken
Whole chicken temp

Chicken Breast Temp

Chicken breasts are usually used in sandwiches, salads, and entrees. 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the minimum internal temperature that chicken breasts should reach. At this temperature, any harmful bacteria like salmonella or campylobacter are killed, making the chicken safe to eat. 

To know the chicken breast is done, check the thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The juices should run clear when chicken is cut and the meat should be white or light tan in color.

  • Roasted Chicken Breast Cook Time should be 25-30 minutes for 4 oz. boneless breast (35-40 minutes for bone-in breast) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grilled Chicken Breast Cook Time should be 6-9 minutes per side for 4 oz. boneless breast (10-15 minutes per side for 6 oz. bone-in breast)
Chicken Breast Temp

Chicken Tenderloins Temp

Chicken tenderloins are usually battered and fried for chicken tenders, grilled for kabobs, or sauteed to top off chicken salads. These lean cuts of meat cook quickly and should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

To know the chicken tenderloin is done, you check the internal temperature it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, when you touch the meat is firm, and the juices run clear when pierced. There should be no pink in the meat when cut.

  • Breaded chicken tenderloin cook time should be 15-20 minutes baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grilled chicken tenderloin cook time should be 4-5 minutes per side for 2-3 oz. tenderloin
  • Fried chicken tenders cook time should be 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Chicken Tenderloins Temp

Chicken Wings Temp

You can use a meat thermometer to check for safe food temperatures when grilling, baking, or frying chicken wings.  The recommended internal temperature for chicken wings is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chicken wings are done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the juices should run clear. In case it is red or pink, the chicken needs more time to cook. 

  • Roasted Chicken Wings Cook Time should be 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grilled Chicken Wings Cook Time should be 8 minutes per side
  • Fried Chicken Wings Cook Time should be 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Chicken Wings Temp

Chicken Drumstick Temp

Chick drumstick is the part used for grilling or barbecuing. Drumsticks are cooked to a safe internal temperature when reaching 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The meat near the bone will take longer to cook. So you should insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the drumstick (without touching the bone). 

  • Chicken drumsticks are done when the thermometer reaches degrees Fahrenheit (where the meat is thickest). The juices should run clear and the meat should be a darker tan, without any pink.
  • Baked Chicken Drumsticks Cook Time should be 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (flipping drumstick at the 20-minute mark)
  • Grilled Chicken Drumsticks Cook Time should be 20-25 minutes (flipping over every 5-10 minutes)
Chicken Drumstick Temp

Chicken Thighs Temp

Thighs of chicken are juicy and flavorful, they are perfect for baking or grilling. To avoid any risk of foodborne illness, you need to cook this dark meat cut thoroughly. 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended internal temperature for chicken thighs.

Chicken thighs are done when they are golden brown on the outside and a light tan on the inside. Temperature should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit without hitting the bone. If the juices are red or pink, the meat needs more time.

  • Baked Chicken Thighs Cook Time should be 20-30 minutes for boneless chicken thighs (35-45 minutes for bone-in chicken thighs) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grilled Chicken Thighs Cook Time: 5-10 minutes per side
Chicken Thighs Temp

Chicken Temp FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Cook Chicken?

The cooking time can vary depending on the method used and the chicken's cut cooked. 

  • Generally, boneless chicken breasts take around 25-30 minutes to cook in an oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Bone-in chicken thighs or drumsticks may take 35-45 minutes. 
  • Grilling chicken takes around 5-15 minutes per side 
  • Frying chicken can take 5-10 minutes per piece. 

Note: You need to make sure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and that the juices run clear to ensure it is safe to eat.

How Long to Let Chicken Rest?

After cooking, it's essential to let the chicken rest before slicing or serving. This allows the juices to be redistributed, ensuring a moist and flavorful result. As a general guideline, let the chicken rest for about 5-10 minutes. Larger cuts, such as a whole roasted chicken, may benefit from resting for 15-20 minutes.

How Long Can a Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

To maintain food safety, it's important to limit the time that cooked chicken sits out at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply rapidly between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C), leading to potential foodborne illnesses. Cooked chicken should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge?

Cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days after cooking. 

Keep the chicken in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to maintain its freshness. 

Ensure cooked chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit when reheating to kill any potential bacteria

Conclusion

Cooking chicken to the appropriate internal temperature is vital for food safety. Whether you're preparing whole chicken, chicken breast, tenderloins, wings, drumsticks, or thighs, always use a food thermometer to ensure it reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Additionally, follow recommended cooking times, allow the chicken to rest, and store cooked chicken properly in the refrigerator to maintain its quality and safety. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy delicious and perfectly cooked chicken every time, while ensuring the health and well-being of yourself and your loved ones.

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