The Perfect Chicken Temperature for Juicy Meat Every Time

If you’re planning to cook a hearty chicken meal, it is crucial to get the basics correct. And by basics, we mean cooking the chicken at just the right temperature. So, what is the correct temperature for cooking chicken? Ideally, it is around 150 degrees Fahrenheit when it comes to white meat. Again, if we are comparing dark minutes, the ideal doneness would be 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

Having said that, we understand that calculating the correct chicken temperature is not the easiest feat. That is why we have come up with this curated guideline for the perfect chicken that’s well-cooked and juicy enough.

In the following few sections, we will learn how to calculate temperature while cooking chicken for both white and dark meat. Additionally, we will also navigate through some guidelines to rest our chickens perfectly, so we have a juicy and perfectly cooked meal.

How To Calculate The Temperature Of Cooked Chicken?

When you are cooking the chicken, you’re probably thinking of multiple temperatures. For instance, you first need to preheat your oven to a certain temperature, and following that, you will need to grill or roast the chicken at a certain temperature. The temperature of cooked chicken is popularly touted as the internal temperature of the bird, and you usually calculate it with an instant thermometer designed for this purpose.

Whether you’re cooking for one or a whole group, you need to meet the minimum parameter for safe temperature. Unless you do this, the food isn’t safe. When you cook the chicken at the recommended temperature, you go the extra mile to make sure that the chicken is free from any type of dangerous bacteria like the infamous salmonella among others.

As you calculate the chicken temperature, you also need to consider the temperature related to the quality. The ideal quality of cooked chicken is where the breast meat is neither too firm nor tender and is juicy from the insides. In the case of dark meats, the ideal doneness is reached when the meat becomes the right amount tender. You need to be extra cautious about the temperature here because the last thing you want is rubbery meat.

The final aspect of this is taking the accurate temperature readings. Many of us haven’t used an instant thermometer before, so it helps to follow the right technique when using the thermometer inside the cooked meat. The rule of thumb is to put your thermometer in the densest section of the breast when it comes to getting an entire bird roasted. Additionally, you would also want to use the thermometer around the thigh section regardless of the meat type.

In case you are cooking chicken breasts, we recommend putting your thermometer directly to the densest area of the breast. The same applies to other parts of individual meat like chicken thighs, chicken drumsticks, and some parts of the wings. However, here, even though your goal is to stick the thermometer to the thickest area, you need to make sure that it doesn’t touch the bones.

Once you follow this simple trick, your perfectly grilled chicken is ready!

What Is The Ideal Doneness For White Meat?

As we mentioned in the previous sections of this article, the doneness may vary depending on the type of poultry meat in question. If we are talking white meat, you should cook it for at least 30 seconds at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. In case you do not want your chicken to be hard and rubbery, you should immediately flip the white chicken breast the moment the internal temperature comes to 162 degrees Fahrenheit. As the chicken cooks, it will internally witness a temperature rise and over the next few seconds, it will reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The best part: during the process, you needn’t worry about dried or overcooked chicken. The meat will be perfectly cooked, and the final result will be delicious, to say the least.

What Is The Ideal Doneness For Dark Meats?

If you are cooking dark meats, the key is to cook them when at a significantly high internal temperature. This can be anywhere from around 172 degrees to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended to cook dark meats for a long time because they come with dense connective tissues. If you cook your dark meat at the same temperature as the light meat which is around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you will end up with meat with a rubbery consistency. However, the same meat can taste significantly better when you turn the temperature slightly up.

As you do this, the collagens get an opportunity to meltdown causing the chicken breasts or thighs to be perfectly juicy without a hint of dryness.

How To Roast Chicken Properly?

Roasting a chicken might seem intimidating at the beginning, especially when you are doing it for the first time. When you follow the right steps to roast chicken, you will end up with both white and dark meat which is perfectly cooked, juicy, and just the right kind of tender.

But what exactly are these steps and what do you need to do? Read the steps below to know more.

  • First, get the oven preheated by 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Next, get your roasting rack and place the chicken on a roasting pan right above the rack. Make sure the chicken is well seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Next, find the deepest area of the breast meat and insert your internal thermometer into it. Customize the alert to 162 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once this is done, move the chicken to your oven and keep the temperature at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Now you need to wait for around 80 to 90 minutes until your internal thermometer starts alerting you.
  • Once the chicken is done and you receive the alerts, get it out from the oven and allow it to get ample rest for at least half an hour. As you do this, make sure the breast continues to have the probe.

Make sure the chicken rests for at least thirty minutes. Once this is complete, you can carve it and serve it with any sauce or topping of your choice. One of the classic options would be a butter garlic sauce with mixed herbs like a dash of rosemary and dill. This works wonders with roast chicken and makes it even tastier. You can also go the classic route by using a pepper mushroom sauce for your chicken. Or better yet, eat it warm right after the rest to feel the complete texture and umami of your delicious roast chicken.

Note: Avoid leaving the chicken to rest longer than 30 minutes because it might turn hard and end up being difficult to chew.

Things To Keep In Mind While The Chicken Rests

As you already know, you should ideally rest your chicken for at least half an hour after it is fully done. During this point, you will find the digital display of the temperature rising and falling. This will continue to happen until the point when the temperature finally reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

From this, you can probably guess that your chicken’s temperature will continue to rise for a couple of minutes even when you get it out of the oven. That is why it is best to get the chicken out at 162 degrees Fahrenheit and then keep it for a half an hour rest. Over the next 8 to 9 minutes, it will assume the final temperature of 165-degree Fahrenheit. This will leave you with meat that is not just juicy but also safe to consume. If you are using dark meat, wait until it reaches the highest temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This will give ample time for the collagen to even up which renders a juicy taste to the chicken.

Do take a note that the recommended cooking time was specially designed for those who roasted chicken. The whole weight of the chicken alone will allow the temperature to sustain during the resting period. In case you are trying the method with a single chicken thigh or a breast, it would either be overcooked or undercooked. That is why always follow it while using a whole chicken regardless of the size.

Bottom Line

Well, these were some of our tried and tested guidelines for roasting and cooking chicken. Because we’ve listed the temperatures and also shared some guidelines about using internal thermometers, you will probably have an easier time navigating through how to use the device. Next, we also shared our invaluable snippets of wisdom when it comes to resting chicken. So, if you follow that guideline as well, you will certainly end up with well-cooked chicken that’s fresh, juicy, and delicious- just the way you want it. Just follow the safety guidelines and make sure your chicken is not cooked anywhere below the recommended temperature. Else it might contract salmonella bacteria that can be fatal to humans. Always wear gloves when handling the chicken and follow all other safety protocols as we suggested. This way, you can always count on your chicken meals being a staggering success!