How to Tell if Chicken is Done

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Knowing how to tell if chicken is done is important for food safety reasons as well as for your health and well-being. Unlike other meats, there are not incremental temperatures for cooking chicken that allow it to be served rare, medium rare, etc. The fact of the matter is that chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 165F degrees in order for the harmful bacteria that causes Salmonella to be killed and for the chicken to be safe to eat.

how to tell if chicken is done

There are other visual aspects that one can train their eye to look for when cooking chicken to know if it’s done. We’ll go over each of those key indicators for knowing if your chicken is done below.

What Happens if You Eat Raw Chicken?

The results of eating raw chicken might not be good. Eating raw chicken has the potential of causing Salmonella food poisoning. 

So yes, it’s the food safety culprit that’s the reason for making sure chicken is appropriately cooked so that no harmful bacteria is left in the chicken when it’s consumed. And food safety is about temperature and time.

Chicken Temperature Chart

There’s no incremental cooking chart for chicken like there is for beef and pork for it being rare, medium rare, or well done. The fact of the matter is that chicken needs to reach 165F degrees in order for it to be safe for consumption. Either chicken is done or it’s not done.

You can download our free temperature conversion chart, which indicates internal temperatures for meats.  

To receive your FREE instant download for meat temperatures, please submit your email address below:   

    What is the Best Temperature to Bake Chicken?

    If you’re wondering about what temperature to bake chicken breasts, the best temperature to bake chicken is 375F degrees. It will provide the juiciest and most evenly cooked chicken.

    If you’re baking chicken that has skin on it, you’ll likely want to rub the skin with your favorite cooking oil and bake it uncovered to provide a nice crispy and browned outcome.

    If you’re baking chicken that’s boneless and skinless, you’ll likely want to bake it covered with a lid or with aluminum foil to keep all the moisture in.

    How Long Does It Take to Bake Chicken Breast?

    The amount of time it takes to bake a chicken breast varies according to the temperature of the oven as well as the thickness and size of the chicken breast. And you’ll want to know how to tell if chicken is done in the oven.

    Below are some approximate guidelines for cook times for chicken breast based on temperature.

    Remember, the internal temperature of your chicken breast needs to reach 165F degrees at the thickest part for it to be done. And that’s how to know when chicken is done in the oven.

    How Long to Bake Chicken Breast at 350F degrees (175C)?

    It takes about 25-30 minutes to cook a chicken breast at 350F degrees, depending on its size and thickness. Confirm that the internal temperature reaches 165F degrees before removing it from the heat.

    How Long to Bake Chicken Breast at 375F degrees (190C)?

    It takes about 20-25 minutes to cook a chicken breast at 375F degrees, depending on its thickness and size. The internal temperature should reach 165F degrees to indicate doneness, for food safety reasons.

    How Long to Bake Chicken Breast at 400F degrees (200C)?

    It takes about 18-25 minutes to cook a chicken breast at 400F degrees, depending on its thickness and size. The internal temperature needs to reach 165F degrees for it to be safe to eat.

    Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Vs. Bone-In

    What’s the difference between boneless skinless chicken breast vs. bone-in chicken?

    A boneless skinless chicken breast is the white meat of the chicken that can be purchased in grocery stores and meat markets. It is as the name suggests, it has no bone and no skin attached. It’s simply the meat.

    On the other hand, a bone-in chicken breast will typically include both the bone and the skin. It is thought by some to allow for a moister and juicer outcome when cooked this way.  But it also requires more processing before it’s eaten.

    What Temperature Is Chicken Done?

    Chicken is done when its internal temperature reaches 165F degrees at the thickest part.

    how to tell if chicken is done

    How to Know if Chicken is Cooked with Thermometer

    The most precise way to know whether your chicken is cooked is to use a meat thermometer.  Once the internal temperature of your chicken reaches 165F degrees at the thickest part, it’s done. It’s as easy as that.

    Use a meat thermometer . . . correctly. A meat thermometer should be poked into the center of the chicken at the thickest part, away from any bone. That’s how to tell if chicken is done with a thermometer and it’s the best way for knowing how to tell if chicken is done without cutting it.

    How to Tell if Chicken is Done Without a Thermometer: Key Indicators

    If you don’t have access to a meat thermometer, there are still visual aspects that you can look for to know without a doubt that your chicken is done. With a well-trained eye and skilled knowledge, you can plan on noticing visual cues and get it right every time.

    And these will work for how to tell if chicken is done on grill, how to tell if chicken is done frying, how to tell if chicken is done in the oven, how to tell if chicken is done boiling, and how to tell if chicken is done in crock pot.

    Here’s how to know if chicken is done without using a thermometer.

    Has the chicken cooked for the recommended cook time?

    If you’re using a good recipe, you can usually follow the recommended cook time for the meat and get close to it being done, while paying attention to the other factors to look for below.

    For example, if your recipe recommends cooking a whole chicken for 1.5 hours and you think it could be done after watching it cook for 45 minutes, depending on the size and cooking temperature, it’s probably not so. You’ll want to keep cooking it if none of the other factors below indicate your chicken is done.

    Is the juice running clear?

    Cooking chicken is unique compared to cooking any other meat because the color and clarity of the chicken juices indicate whether it’s done. If the juice is running cloudy or it still has a pink or red color to it, then your chicken is not yet done. When the chicken juice runs clear, you know your chicken is done.

    Has the chicken started to brown on the outside?

    Likely, unless you’re cooking your chicken in a covered pan with some water in the oven or you’re boiling your chicken, most likely your chicken will become slightly browned on the outside in order to reach the 165F internal temperature on the inside.

    Is the inside of the chicken fully white?

    When your chicken is fully done, it should be white inside. If you cut into your chicken and there’s any pink or red color that remains, your chicken isn’t done and should go back to the heat to finish cooking.

    Is the texture of the chicken stringy all the way through?

    When your chicken has reached the 165F degree internal temperature, the chicken meat’s texture will turn stringy. If the texture of the meat is still dense and not yet stringy, then the chicken needs to cook longer.

    Is your chicken falling off the bone?

    If you’re cooking chicken breast or chicken tenderloin, then obviously you won’t be able to use this key indicator. However, if you’re cooking chicken that has a bone in it, you can usually know that your chicken is done when it starts to fall off the bone.  

    Check the size-did the meat shrink?

    Chicken shrinks when it’s cooked. Regardless of the cut of chicken, it will become plumper, and it will shrink in size. The shrinking of the meat is real and can indicate doneness if you know what to look for.

    grilled chicken nuggets

    How to Tell if Whole Chicken is Cooked Without a Thermometer

    Roasting a whole chicken can be a delicious way to enjoy white and dark meat and it makes a good meal for a small family. There’s something about the wonderful smell of a whole roasted chicken that’s satisfying and desirable.  

    The best way for how to check if whole chicken is cooked with a thermometer is to poke your thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken all the way to the middle. If the internal temperature has reached 165F degrees or more, your chicken is done. If your chicken has not yet reached 165F degrees, then it needs to cook longer.

    To roast or grill a whole chicken, did you know you can cut off 1/3 to ½ of the cook time by spatchcocking your chicken. Spatchcocking a chicken is the process of cutting a whole chicken to enable it to lay flat while it cooks. To learn how to spatchcock a chicken, see our resource post using the link below.

    Resource: How to Spatchcock a Chicken

    How to Tell When Chicken Breast is Done

    The most precise way to know if your chicken breast is done is to use a meat thermometer. If the internal temperature has reached 165F degrees, then your chicken is done.

    For how to know when chicken breast is done without a thermometer, you can use the same key indicators as those listed above for knowing if your chicken breast is done. Has the chicken cooked for the recommended cook time? Is the juice running clear? Has the texture changed to a stringy texture? Is all the pink color on the inside disappeared?

    If all these statements are true, then your chicken is likely done.

    If you need to slice your chicken to check for doneness, we recommend making a small slice in the chicken that doesn’t go all the way through whenever possible. That way you won’t be allowing all the juices to run out if your chicken isn’t done yet. No one likes dry chicken.  

    How to Tell if Chicken Thigh is Cooked

    The easiest way to tell if chicken thigh is cooked is to use a meat thermometer to check your chicken thigh’s internal temperature. If the internal temperature at the thickest part has reached 165F degrees, then your chicken is done.

    But if you don’t have a meat thermometer, then you’ll want to look for the key indicators for knowing that your chicken is done without using a thermometer. Does the chicken thigh’s juice run clear? Has the texture to the inside of the meat changed to stringy? Is the color of the meat on the inside all white? Is the chicken falling off the bone?

    If all these statements are true, then your chicken is likely done.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Following are frequently asked questions for how to tell if chicken is done. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

    If chicken is white, is it cooked?

    If your chicken is white, it could mean that it’s cooked, but not necessarily. Chicken almost always turns white on the outside before it’s done on the inside. So be careful not to be fooled by outside color alone.

    Make sure the internal temperature has reached 165F degrees before removing it from the heat.  

    How to tell if chicken is overcooked?

    If you’re chicken is overcooked, it might not be desirable to eat. Overcooked chicken can be burnt and dry and instead of being white in color, it almost looks yellow. Trying to eat overcooked chicken can be a challenge because it’s tough to chew. Yuck!

    How to tell if frozen chicken is cooked?

    Chicken cooked from a frozen state is done when the internal temperature reaches 165F degrees at the thickest part. It also should be white in color, have a stringy texture, shrinks in size, has juices that run clear, and falls away from the bone easily.

    Is slightly undercooked chicken, okay?

    No, consuming slightly undercooked chicken can make you sick and give you Salmonella poisoning and can even cause death. It’s important that the internal temperature of your chicken reaches 165F degrees in order to kill any unwanted bacteria and the chicken is safe to eat.

    How to tell if chicken drumsticks are done?

    Chicken drumsticks are done when their internal temperature reaches 165F degrees. Or when the internal juices run clear, the meat begins to fall off the bone, and the inside is stringy in texture and is no longer pink in color.

    How to tell if grilled chicken is fully cooked?

    Grilled chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165F degrees. You can also use our key indicators listed above for knowing if your chicken is done.

    How to cook stewed meat without a thermometer?

    The best way to cook stewed chicken meat without a thermometer and know whether it’s done is to check the texture and the color of the inside of the meat.  The texture should be stringy and the color should be white and no longer pink.

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