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Chicken Safe Internal Temperature

The sight of raw or undercooked chicken causes widespread alarm about food poisoning and safety.

Salmonella, the main concern of those who interact with raw poultry, is no laughing matter. The bacteria may cause severe gastroenteritis and possibly typhoid fever and are frequently linked with chicken since they are found in raw poultry and eggs.

The FDA Food Code advises that chicken be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher due to the potential dangers. Salmonella may live up to 117 degrees Fahrenheit, so this will kill it, but it also tends to dry up the chicken and make it taste bad.

Chicken cooking on smoker with temperature probe

However, there’s another approach that could work better. Juicy, delicious chicken that won’t give you the runs? We’ll teach you how to make it here.

Is it OK to consume chicken that hasn’t been fully cooked?

Raw chicken, as we’ve already established, may house a wide variety of harmful bacteria, including Campylobacter, E. coli, Clostridium perfringens, and the somewhat more famed Salmonella. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that annually, one million Americans get ill after coming into touch with these germs from eating raw or undercooked chicken.

A food poisoning outbreak brought on by any of these germs may induce high fever, vomiting, dehydration, and diarrhea. To put it mildly, these symptoms are unpleasant at best and potentially life-threatening at worst for the young, the elderly, and the already frail.

The Food and Drug Administration advises that all fowl be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above to eliminate the possibility of food illness.

The Food and Drug Administration suggests keeping the temperature around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, but why?

The Food and Drug Administration suggests cooking chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit since doing so reduces the amount of viable bacteria by a factor of 109, or 10000000.

Salmonella, even the most hardy strain, is destroyed at this temperature. Dark meat, which has more connective tissue and more densely-muscled leg muscles, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 170-175°F.

The most critical consideration is the chicken’s internal temperature, not its appearance. People sometimes mistakenly believe that any trace of pink in chicken flesh indicates that it is undercooked and potentially harmful.

Forget about using your eyes or any old wives’ tales to determine whether the chicken is done cooking.

Techniques for determining whether poultry is done cooking

Invest in an accurate instant-read meat thermometer if you’re concerned about whether or not your chicken is done through. You judge doneness not by the chicken’s appearance or the appearance of its fluids, but by its interior temperature.

Meat pasteurization is a tiny process that depends on temperature and time; thus, your eyes are not the best instrument for the task.

Chicken flesh and fluids may be somewhat pink for a number of reasons without compromising their safety for consumption.

We also have a detailed blog article about how long you should grill chicken if that is your preferred way of preparation.

Where can I get information on the minimum recommended temperature for cooking chicken?

How old a chicken is

Pullets, or chickens less than a year old, are the primary source of the chicken sold in grocery stores. The typical age is between 6 and 8 weeks.

The naturally purple bone marrow of these birds may leak through the remaining porous bones of these young chicks and give the meat a pink or purplish tint. The expansion of the marrow after freezing makes this a regular problem with frozen chickens.

Muscle fibers that contain myoglobin

Many people mistakenly believe that a crimson liquid seen in cooked meat is really blood.

Since beef may be consumed at a wide range of temperatures, this liquid is often disregarded. The appearance of blood is usually more alarming in chicken.

Unless anything very unusual happened while cooking, the crimson liquid is most likely a colored protein called myoglobin. The darker pigmentation of the chicken’s leg muscles is due to myoglobin, which transports oxygen to the muscles.

Myoglobin pools in the legs of chickens that have been sitting on store shelves for a time, and this substance is often mistook for blood. Myoglobin is entirely safe if the fluid you observe is clear, pink, and not clearly clotted.

The pH of a chicken

The acidity of the chicken you eat might be lower than that of other birds, depending on the breed and the way it was stored. The pH level that results from this might make the meat somewhat pink.

The same holds true here; there is no need to panic. Meat that has a small blush to it is still safe to eat if the thermometer reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (170 to 175 degrees for dark meat).

Overall, people overcompensate and over-cook their chicken into a dry, tasteless mess due to a lack of knowledge of why chicken has to be brought up to temperature, a dependence on antiquated techniques of measuring the “doneness” of the flesh, and an inflated dread of the color of the meat.

Fortunately, there are a few methods that allow you to prepare chicken without risking your health or ruining its taste or texture.

Achieving the Ideal Chicken Cooking Results

Get the most flavor out of your chicken by following these simple guidelines.

Chicken should not be washed.

The topic of not washing your chicken was originally discussed in the section on safely thawing a turkey. A quick rinse with cold water won’t eradicate the bacteria on the chicken’s surface, and you can end up spreading germs all over your hands, the sink, and the rest of the kitchen.

Use a dry brine

By establishing a saline environment, dry brining your chicken helps prevent the growth of germs while also increasing the taste by penetrating the spice into the flesh.

Roast a chicken with the spit

One of the typical challenges with cooking a whole chicken is that various portions of the bird cook at different temperatures due of variances in thickness. Because of this, certain parts of the food may be undercooked while others are overdone.

Removing the chicken’s backbone and flattening the carcass, a technique known as “spatchcocking,” eliminates the issue. The meat is less likely to be undercooked or overcooked if you start with a flat carcass.

Check out our spatchcocking tutorial for detailed instructions on how to prepare a bird for smoking.

Use a meat thermometer

Thermometer testing chicken internal temperature

Chicken’s internal temperature being measured by thermometer.

This has been brought up before, but it is important enough to note again. Use an accurate instant-read thermometer to determine whether poultry or other meats have reached the desired degree of doneness.

Many “conventional” methods of assessing the doneness of food, such as sight or touch tests, are very wrong, as we discussed in our article debunking food myths.

Employing a meat thermometer is your best bet for determining whether or not your meal has reached an acceptable internal temperature.

Thighs are easier to cook than breasts.

Whereas it’s generally accepted that a chicken breast is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you may not be aware that chicken thighs may be cooked to an internal temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit and still taste great.

This is because if you’re not cautious, the thighs will come out tasting undercooked due to the increased fat content keeping them wet.

Our recipe for smoked chicken thighs calls for an internal temperature of 171°F.

Allot some time for leftover cooking and resting.

Taking the chicken out of the oven won’t miraculously halt the cooking process. Don’t forget that even after removing the chicken from the oven, it will continue to cook for a few minutes while resting. This may cause a rise in temperature of up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit in as little as a few minutes with steak, and you can anticipate the same with your chicken.

Avoid burning your chicken by not heating it over 160 degrees Fahrenheit before you rest it; the carryover heat will finish the job.

Is it possible to use lower temperatures while cooking chicken?

Leg meat is still tough 20 degrees below the recommended minimum safe chicken internal temperature because the abundant connective tissue hasn’t gotten hot enough to render down into collagen yet, which is one of the most common problems encountered when cooking a chicken because the more delicate breast meat starts to dry out at around 150°F.

Kenji López-Alt, a food scientist and all-around chicken magician, has devised a method for chicken to both cook safely and be eaten.

Because pasteurization is a function of both temperature and time, you may achieve the same 7-log10 decrease by holding the chicken at 145°F for at least 8.5 minutes as you would by cooking it to 165°F.

Keeping the meat at 145 degrees Fahrenheit prevents it from becoming “Muscle fibers in breast flesh have gotten nearly totally squeezed dry,” which may happen if the meat is cooked much more. When the temperature of meat goes beyond 150 degrees Fahrenheit, it becomes dry and chalky.

Step-by-step instructions for Kenji’s effortless, foolproof roast chicken.

  • Make sure your oven is at 260 degrees Celsius.
  • To roast a whole chicken, about 3.5 to 4 pounds in weight, set a cooling rack over a sheet pan covered in foil.
  • Make sure the skin is dry and the giblets have been removed.
  • Pull the skin away from the meat and use your hands to spread around 1-2 teaspoons of oil beneath and all over the skin.
  • Traditional chicken preparations call for butter, which contains roughly 18% water and will prevent the skin from browning and becoming crisp.
  • After brining the chicken, place it in the oven at a temperature of 177 degrees Celsius for an hour and a half to two hours, depending on its size. At the very end of cooking, check the internal temperature of the thickest section of the breast flesh to make sure it has reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Legs should be 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit at this point.
  • When the internal temperatures of the chicken have been brought to the appropriate “pull” levels, remove the bird from the oven and let it rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes. With the carryover, you can be confident the chicken will maintain an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast, guaranteeing you a tasty, juicy, and most importantly, safe meal.

Topping it all off with a truss

Now you know the answer. It is possible to make pink meat, red liquids, and even poultry at temperatures considerably below 165°F while still keeping them safe and appetizing by utilizing the right technique and a reliable instant-read thermometer to keep track of the temperature.

Is there a certain way to ensure that chicken stays juicy and tender? Is chicken cooked at 145 degrees Fahrenheit acceptable to you?