I believe we all love the taste of tasty, yummy, and finger-licking chicken that is well done. Chicken is a personal favorite for me and my kids. Whether it is baked, grilled, roasted, or stewed, it has that amazing, unique flavor that you just can’t get in other meats.
Chicken recipes are really easy to follow, and almost always don’t require you to put in too much effort. However, I have had my own share of undercooked chicken. For a long time, I was not able to surely tell if chicken is done.
It was always a gamble. Sometimes my chicken would look like it is well cooked, but when I sit down ready to enjoy it, I realize that the inside is still pink. This usually means that the chicken is not well cooked.
At such times, I had to swallow my pride, take the chicken back to the kitchen, and cook it all over again because there is absolutely no way I would let my family eat undercooked chicken. It is dangerous and simply not worth the risk. Besides, chicken that is not cooked properly always has a weird taste.
Fed up with serving chicken that is undercooked, I put my nerd gear on and started researching on how to tell if chicken is done.
The internet is such an amazing tool. I came across very many suggestions and decided to put each of them to test. At the end of my long research, I narrowed down to seven sure methods that you can use. Each one of them worked for me.
There are many methods you can use to tell if chicken is done. You can use a meat thermometer to check the inner temperature of the meat, you can check the color of the chicken and that of the juices oozing from it, you can check the size of the chicken to see if it is smaller than the initial size, or you can check the texture of the chicken. Alternatively, you can just check if the chicken is sticking to the grates when you are grilling.
I tried to give you as many details as possible on how to check if your chicken is done in this article. Here is how to tell if your chicken is done.
They are easy and straightforward methods that literally anyone can use. Let’s dive in!
Also, click to check out these amazing tips.
You can never go wrong with a meat thermometer
Meat thermometers are one of the greatest inventions when it comes to kitchen appliances. There is literally no better way to check if the meat is done. Meat thermometers are accurate and precise.
If you are preparing a whole chicken, insert the meat thermometer in the thigh of the chicken. The temperature should be anywhere between 180 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
For chicken breasts, the temperature should be at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit. When making stuffed chicken, insert the meat thermometer in a way that it goes through the chicken and reaches the stuffing. The stuffing should have a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do not cook for less time than the recipe requires you to
Like any other kind of meat, you need to cook chicken for long enough so that you do not end up with undercooked chicken.
This the only way you can ensure that all bacteria present in the chicken have been killed. If you cook the chicken at high temperatures, it will take less time to be fully cooked.
I recommend sticking to the time and temperatures allocated by your recipe for the best results. If you cook the chicken for a shorter time you may end up with undercooked chicken which is very dangerous when consumed.
Related Recipe: The Best Grilled Greek Lemon Chicken you’ve Ever Tasted
The color of the chicken will tell you when it is done
Chicken that is well-cooked should be white in color. If your chicken has some traces of pink color, it is not yet done. However, you should keep in mind that chicken may look white on the outside yet the inside is still pink. For this reason, you need to check the color both outside and inside.
For boneless chicken, you can check by using a knife to cut into the center of the chicken. If it is white, then your chicken if done, but if it is still pink, you need to cook the chicken some more.
For chicken that has bones, some parts that are closest to the bone might still look pinkish even if the chicken is done. So if you cut into the chicken and it is white in color but the areas close to the bone are pinkish, there is no need to worry. Your chicken is well done.
Make sure you cut the thickest parts of the chicken for the best results.
The juices coming from your chicken should be clear
This is one of the easiest ways to check if your chicken is done. All you need is a fork. Pierce the chicken with a fork and observe the juices that come out of it. If the juices are clear, then your chicken is well done.
However, if the juices appear reddish or pinkish in color, the chicken is not yet ready, and you need to cook it for longer.
While doing this, make sure there is enough light for you to tell the exact color of the juices coming out of the chicken. The fork should also pierce the chicken with ease. If you have a hard time piercing the chicken, it is definitely not done.
The chicken should shrink and appear smaller
This is definitely the oldest trick in the book. Most meats shrink when cooked, and chicken is no exception.
Your chicken should appear smaller than it was when you started cooking. Sometimes the chicken may look cooked but the size is still the same.
This is usually an indication that the chicken is not cooked all the way through even though it appears to be. So if your chicken has not shrunk, you need to let it continue cooking until it does. If not, you’ll cut into it and find out it is still raw.
When grilling, the chicken should not stick to the grates
I figured that if you are grilling chicken and it sticks to the grates when you flip it to the other side, the chicken is still raw.
Chicken that is well-cooked should not stick to the grates. You can easily flip well-cooked chicken on the grill. This is usually an indication that the outside has cooked properly.
When using this method to check if the chicken is done, make sure you also use a knife to make an incision to check if the inside of the meat has turned white. If it is still pink, grill it until it turns white.
Check the texture of the chicken
This is probably the most obvious way to tell when chicken is done. Well cooked chicken should have a soft texture.
If the texture of the chicken is still hard, the chicken is not properly cooked, and you need to let it continue cooking for longer.
Which one is the best method?
Personally, I believe that using a meat thermometer is the best way to check if the chicken is done. You can never go wrong with it. It is accurate and precise.
When you use a meat thermometer, you do not need to counter-check using another method. The meat thermometer is always right.
If you do not have a meat thermometer, there is no need to panic. You can use the color method to check if your chicken is done. Simply use a sharp knife to make a cut in the thickest part of the chicken.
The cut should allow you to see the color of the inside of the chicken, if it is white, well done, the chicken is cooked. However, if it is still pinkish in color, the chicken is not yet properly cooked.
These two methods are the best ones to use if you want to tell whether or not your chicken is done. I assure you that if you use any of these methods, you will never serve your family undercooked chicken.
Why you should always make sure your chicken is done before consuming it
First of all, eating undercooked chicken is very harmful to your health. When you cook chicken, you kill bacteria that cause food poisoning. Chicken in particular usually attracts salmonella which is a harmful bacteria.
If you do not cook your chicken well or for long enough, the salmonella will not be killed and it will consequently cause food poisoning.
The salmonella bacteria can cause unpleasant symptoms like nausea, bloody diarrhea, fever, stomach pains, headache, and even vomiting.
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is advisable that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
You should also handle raw chicken properly to avoid any infections. For instance, you should wash your hands thoroughly before preparing the chicken and use clean utensils to cook it.