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How to Check Chicken for Doneness


Checking chicken for doneness is a very important step in all chicken recipes; they are also similar no matter what method you are using. Some methods of measuring the doneness are more accurate than others, but some are more suitable for the method of cooking and also for the part of the chicken being cooked. Below are some useful ways to check chicken for doneness.

Thermometer: This is the most precise and surefire way to test a chicken for doneness; either an instant heat thermometer can be used, or a standard meat thermometer. If you are using a standard thermometer, place it in the chicken and leave it there while it is cooking, so the temperature can be checked and maintained over time.

An instant read thermometer, on the other hand, is placed in the chicken when it is done cooking. After being taken away from the source of heat, the thermometer is put into the breast or thigh of the chicken, which are the thickest parts, but should not touch the bone.  In about 15 seconds you  should get the measurements.

Temperature Indicating Appropriate Doneness:
Whole Chicken - Thigh Area             175° - 180°F
Whole Chicken - Breast Area            170° - 175°F
Chicken Breast and Wings                170° - 175°F
Chicken Parts - Dark Meat                180°F
Ground Chicken                                 170°F
Stuffing Inside Whole Chicken         165°F

Note: If the chicken is not at the appropriate temperature, be sure to return it to the heat source to cook for a longer time.

Piercing: This is a method for checking doneness which requires you to pierce the chicken meat with a fork or knife and test the color of the juice that runs out; if it is clear then it is done. If it is colored pink or red, then it is not yet finished and should be cooked for a longer time.

Visual: This is the simplest but least accurate method; simply cut into the chicken with a knife and open the cut further to observe the color of the inner meat; if it is pure white, then it is done. If it is pink or red in any way, then it must be cooked for a longer period of time.

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.