How to Tell If Chicken Is Done!

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Raw foods of animal origin, such as raw or undercooked chicken, are among the foods that are most likely to be contaminated with germs that may lead to foodborne disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Because of this, it is very necessary to constantly cook chicken (along with any other poultry products or meats) to an internal temperature that is at least minimum safe. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture advises that whole chickens be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as determined by a food thermometer. This is because cooking to this minimum temperature kills harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

This guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of using a meat thermometer to guarantee that your chicken is cooked thoroughly, hence lowering the likelihood that you may fall victim to an unpleasant case of foodborne disease. This will help you know how to detect whether chicken is done.

Because my entire family and I were sickened by Salmonella many years ago after eating ready-made turkey from a grocery store, I can attest to the fact that it is a very unpleasant illness. This is the primary reason I always use a meat thermometer to ensure that my chicken (and other poultry and meats) are cooked to the safe internal temperature!

Cooking Times for Chicken

In addition to ensuring that the chicken has been cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it is also helpful to be aware of the approximate cooking times for the various chicken products. However, it is important to keep in mind that when calculating cooking times, there are many factors to take into consideration. Some of these factors include the size or thickness of the chicken or chicken pieces, the method used to prepare the chicken, and the method used to cook the chicken.

If you live at a high altitude, you need to remember to adapt the temperature and/or the cooking times of any guides you use.

Roasting a complete boiler-fryer chicken at a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit takes around 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours for an unstuffed 3 to 4 pound bird; if the bird is stuffed, then an additional 15 to 30 minutes of cooking time is required.

When boneless breasts are roasted, they should take between 6 and 8 minutes each side, whereas bone-in breast halves should take between 30 and 40 minutes. The roasting time for boneless breasts should be between 20 and 30 minutes.

On the grill, wings or wingettes will require around 8 to 12 minutes, but when roasted at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, they will need 30 to 40 minutes.

If you are cooking your chicken in the microwave, it will take approximately 9 to 10 minutes per pound for a whole chicken to finish cooking at 70% power (medium-high), while bone-in parts will take approximately 8 to 9 minutes per pound, and boneless breast halves will take approximately 6 to 8 minutes per pound.

You shouldn’t cook a stuffed chicken in the microwave because the filling can have trouble reaching 165 degrees Fahrenheit when the bird itself is already done.

Allow the boneless sections of the chicken to rest for five minutes and the bone-in chicken to rest for ten minutes before serving. The chicken was cooked in the microwave.

If you choose to grill your chicken, you will need to keep a close watch on it while it is cooking since the hot spots on the grill will cause certain areas of the chicken to cook more quickly than others. If you have a two-zone fire, this situation will be much easier to handle. Simply shift the chicken to the cooler portion of the fire and let it complete cooking there without worrying about the skin being too charred.

The food safety brief titled “Chicken from Farm to Table,” which was released by the FSIS, is a valuable tool for determining the estimated cooking times for various types of chicken.

Cooked Chicken Color

According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), properly cooked chicken may appear white, pink, tan, or anywhere in between these hues. As long as the internal temperature of the meat has reached at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit throughout, it is OK to consume.

When chicken is roasted, the hemoglobin in the flesh causes a chemical reaction with the gases in the oven, giving the chicken a pinkish hue. This pink color is frequently the result of roasting the chicken. Because their skin is thinner, younger birds have a greater chance of developing pink meat because the gases in the oven are able to reach the flesh more easily. Due to the fact that older birds often have a layer of fat beneath the skin that assists in shielding the flesh from the oven’s fumes, pink tinges may only be detected in areas of the bird that do not have any fat under the skin. Pink meat may also be caused by the addition of preservatives such as nitrates and nitrites.

Pinkness may also appear on smoked or grilled chicken, and in certain instances, it can be observed all around the outside meat of the bird. It is safe to consume as long as it has been cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, just like any other kind of chicken.

Sometimes chicken will have a deeper color, particularly the flesh that is closer to the bones. This occurs more often in younger broiler-fryer chickens that are six to eight weeks old and is caused by the bones not having fully cemented yet, which allows color from the bone marrow to leak into the bones and surrounding tissue. The condition is more prevalent in birds that are younger. This is not a problem; it is only a matter of personal preference. You could also see darker-colored meat in the chicken if it was frozen at some point in the past.

The Importance of Cooking to a Safe Internal Temperature

Chicken is linked to a variety of pathogenic bacteria, the presence of which may put people at risk for developing foodborne illnesses.

Salmonella may be obtained through a variety of dietary sources, the most common of which being chicken and eggs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are more than a million cases of Salmonella per year in the United States. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requires poultry businesses to achieve requirements to demonstrate that the facility is successful in managing Salmonella infection. In addition, premises are examined to verify that they are in accordance with the Salmonella standard.

In addition to Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, which is caused by Campylobacter jejuni, is another prevalent source of foodborne disease in humans. Just like poultry businesses are required to satisfy Campylobacter standards and are inspected to verify compliance with these requirements.

Cooking kills the organism that causes listeria, which is called Listeria monocytogenes; nevertheless, improper handling of cooked foods might encourage this bacteria to grow.

Even while the majority of the Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains that exist in our digestive tracts as well as the digestive tracts of chickens and other animals are harmless, a tiny subset of these strains may make people susceptible to food-borne illnesses. When animals are slaughtered, they often ingest feces, which may lead to infection with E. coli.

E. coli may be found on feathers and dust in addition to chicken carcasses, despite the fact that the FSIS has a regulation of “zero tolerance” for visible feces on birds. The FSIS also mandates that testing for generic E. coli be performed on carcasses in order to ensure that the techniques being used to prevent and eliminate any fecal contamination are effective.

Any chicken that is purchased at a retail outlet will, in addition, have been subjected to a mandated inspection, either by the USDA or by the State, whichever has criteria that are comparable to those of the federal government. The ‘Inspected for Wholesomeness’ stamp awarded by the USDA indicates that the chicken has been inspected and found to be free of any diseases that are readily apparent.

There are also some chickens that are rated, however doing so is not required and is done on a voluntary basis. A chicken with a USDA Grade A rating will have a body that is meaty and plump, skin that is clean, and no wounds, broken bones, bruises, or discolorations.

Types of Meat Thermometers

Some of us prefer to use an oven-safe thermometer and leave it in the chicken while it is cooking, which is fine; however, unless the thermometer has multiple probes, you will still need to move it to check the temperature in other parts of the chicken. This is because oven-safe thermometers do not typically have multiple probes.

You can leave some digital thermometers in the chicken while it cooks, and these thermometers often come with a stand or a magnet so that you can leave it on the front of the oven or standing on the counter top while the chicken cooks. You will need to remove it from the bird in order to check the doneness of different areas of the bird, just like you would with a manual thermometer.

Dial instant read thermometers are not typically suitable for use in the oven and often need around twenty seconds to get an accurate temperature reading. When you’re grilling, you may find it convenient to have thermometer forks on hand since they often provide readings rather quickly.

If there is a pop-up thermometer in your bird when you purchase it, you can use it as a guide when it opens up, but it is still safer to check the temperature with your meat thermometer. If there is a pop-up thermometer in your bird when you buy it, you may use it as a reference when it pops up. In the same vein, you shouldn’t put too much stock in the disposable thermometers that may come packaged with your chicken or other poultry products.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

  • To demonstrate how to prepare chicken, I will use a whole roasted chicken as my example throughout this guide.
  • Thermometer for meat – I strongly advise using an instant read thermometer, which may be either digital or dial.
  • To calibrate your thermometer, you may use either boiling water or ice water.
  • A mixture of chlorine and bleach that has been diluted according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of maintaining food hygiene is acceptable.

You should be aware of the other factors that can assist you in determining whether or not your chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature, even though using a reliable instant read meat thermometer is the simplest way to verify that the chicken has been cooked to the appropriate internal temperature.

In the event that your thermometer stops working or you discover that you are out of replacement batteries, you may have little choice but to depend on time-honored techniques to determine whether or not the food is cooked through.

You may test to see whether a piece of chicken is done by cutting it in half and giving it a little squeeze; if the juice comes out clear, the chicken is done; if the liquid is still pink, the chicken needs more time in the oven. This isn’t always the ideal technique to verify whether or not the chicken is done, particularly if there are numerous pieces of chicken and you’re serving them at a fancy dinner!

If you are cooking a whole chicken, you may test the doneness by making a cut in a thick portion of the bird, pulling apart the flesh with a knife and fork, and seeing what color the meat and its fluids are at that point.

I recall having to test the fluids of the meat using a BBQ skewer; I would poke the skewer into the meaty areas and then examine the color of the liquids that ran out. If they were clear, then the chicken was cooked properly; if they were pink, then the bird needed to go back into the oven.

When determining whether or not chicken parts are cooked through, it’s helpful to remove the bones from those pieces. Even though they seem to be cooked on the exterior and in the middle, they may still have an uncooked center that is close to the bone. It is usually best to monitor the temperature of bone-in chicken using a meat thermometer. This is due to the fact that bone-in chicken might maintain the pink flesh around the bone long after being cooked.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Check your thermometer works

You should spend a couple of minutes monitoring your thermometer while your chicken is roasting or cooking, particularly if you haven’t used it in a while. This is especially important if you haven’t used it to check the temperature in a while. To verify that the thermometer’s readings are correct, place the probe into water that is either boiling (212 degrees Fahrenheit) or ice cold (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 30 seconds (allowing time for the temperature to be adjusted to account for altitude, if required). If it is off and you are able to manually calibrate it, then you should do so using the ice or hot water that you have available.

Tip: If your thermometer is off by a couple of degrees (either over or under) and you are unable to calibrate it yourself, do not worry; instead, just make a note of the difference, and when you use it on the chicken, simply add or subtract that difference to give a more accurate reading. If your thermometer is off by a couple of degrees (either over or under), do not worry; instead, just make a note of the difference.

Step 2: Remove the chicken from the oven

This should be near the end of the minimum suggested cooking time for the dish, but before you would think that it is finished. Put the chicken dish or tray on a cutting board or any other surface that can withstand heat.

Step 3: Insert thermometer

When taking a temperature of the thigh, be sure to enter the thermometer probe into the region of the thigh that is the thickest. Instead of attempting to predict how far you should push it, simply keep going until you feel bone.

The probe of the thermometer should be slowly retracted away from the bone by no more than a quarter of an inch before stopping and waiting for the temperature measurement. The thermometer will need to remain in place for the amount of time that is suggested by the maker of the thermometer. You also need to steer clear of getting readings from the gristle or the fat.

Because of this, I favor instant read thermometers because they provide a reading more quickly. Furthermore, you do not want to take your chicken out of the oven for any longer than is absolutely necessary while it is still cooking because the longer temperatures are allowed to drop, the greater the likelihood that bacteria will start to grow.

After that, you may pull the probe out even deeper, pause it, and get another reading. You may carry out this procedure once or twice more, and each time, you will see a little change in the temperature; nonetheless, the temperature figure you need to determine whether or not the chicken is cooked is the one that is the lowest.

A helpful hint: the suggested minimum safe interior temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the majority of us like to cook at a higher temperature. Personally, I like to cook a whole chicken to around 180°F to 185°F, and if it is stuffed, I make sure that the temperature is at least 170°F in the middle of the packed cavity.

Step 4: Clean thermometer

After putting the thermometer probe into the sanitizer’s container, run it under the hot water from the sink.

A helpful hint to keep in mind is that the probe of the meat thermometer has to be cleaned after each usage to eliminate the risk of any cross contamination. Either use extremely hot soapy water or put it in boiling water for at least 30 seconds, but at the absolute least use very hot soapy water.

Repeat Step 3: Now put the thermometer probe into the inner and thick area of the wing to verify whether the internal temperature has reached the safe minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is necessary to repeat Step 4 in order to sanitize and rinse the thermometer probe.

Repeat Step 3: Finally, push the probe into the thickest area of the breast and check to see whether the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the minimum safe internal temperature.

If you filled your chicken, you will need to repeat Step 6 and put the probe into the middle of the cavity to check the temperature of the stuffing. The temperature of the stuffing has to be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit so that you can be confident that any hazardous germs have been eliminated.

If you purchased your chicken along with the giblets and are cooking them concurrently with the roasting of your chicken, then they need to reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Simmer the giblets in water while the bird is cooking. After being cooked, the liver will often get crumbly, while the gizzard and heart will have become softer and will be simple to cut.

Step 5: Replace chicken in oven

If any of the readings show a temperature that is lower than 165 degrees Fahrenheit, then you need to put the chicken back in the oven and check it again in about five minutes.

Step 6: Rest and serve

As soon as the thermometer reaches a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (or whatever temperature you like), you may take the entire chicken out of the oven and let it rest for at least five minutes before serving it.

Step 7: Sanitize thermometer

You will need to fully sterilize the probe by applying the sanitizer solution to it, and you should also make sure to wipe off the dial and controller with the sanitizer.

Before storing it away for the next time, you should wipe it off with some paper towels to remove any moisture and lower the likelihood that it may rust. In addition, don’t forget to switch off your digital thermometer so that you may avoid wasting its battery.


Using a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken has been cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the most reliable and suggested method, despite the fact that there are a number of other methods to determine whether or not your chicken is ready to eat.

Along with practicing proper hygiene and being careful when handling food, this may help reduce the risk of you or a member of your family being unwell from consuming undercooked chicken or chicken that has been cross-contaminated.

I really hope that you have found this step-by-step instruction to be helpful, and if you have, please don’t hesitate to forward it along to any of your friends. You are more than welcome to provide any feedback that you may have on either this instructional video or the process of cooking chicken in general in the space provided below.


How can you tell if chicken is done without a thermometer?

If you do not have a thermometer, there are certain clues that you may look for to determine whether or not the chicken has been cooked all the way through. When a piece of chicken is cooked through, the fluids should flow clear when punctured with the tip of a paring knife or a fork, and the flesh should no longer be pink in color.

How can you tell if sure chicken is cooked?

Try poking holes in the meat to determine whether the fluids are clear or crimson.

When chicken is cooked to perfection, the fluids that flow clear when you cut into it indicate that the chicken is ready to eat. If the liquids are crimson or have a reddish tinge to them, it’s possible that the chicken needs a little bit more time in the oven.

Can chicken be a little pink?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it can be consumed safely. Color does not signify doneness. According to further information provided by the USDA, properly cooked fowl may nevertheless sometimes have a reddish hue in the flesh and fluids.

Is slightly undercooked chicken OK?

A foodborne ailment, often known as food poisoning, may be acquired by eating chicken that has not been fully cooked. You run the risk of becoming ill if you consume other foods or drinks that have been tainted by consuming raw chicken or the fluids from raw chicken. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that around one million individuals get ill each year in the United States as a direct result of eating infected chicken.

How long should you cook chicken?

The quickest response that we are able to provide is as follows: Roast big boneless, skinless chicken breasts in an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes. In an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, roast big chicken breasts with the bone in and the skin on for 35 to 40 minutes.