It’s a message that you see in everything from cooking classes to TV commercials: Raw chicken = bad! So it’s pretty common knowledge that not cooking chicken enough is one of the cooking mistakes that can make your food toxic. Unfortunately, though, the temperature that actually constitutes cooked, safe-to-eat chicken is less common knowledge. What should the temperature of cooked chicken actually be so that it’s safe to eat?
Why Is Undercooked Chicken Dangerous?
Raw chicken may contain pathogens—and, according to Healthline, a significant percentage of the chicken sold in the United States actually does. Salmonella bacteria, which often lives in the gut of farm animals like chickens, is the most common of these pathogens. The consumption of Salmonella and other bacteria can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and other nasty food poisoning symptoms. Luckily, ensuring that the internal temperature of cooked chicken reaches a certain amount will kill those microorganisms, making the chicken safe to eat.
What Is the Right Chicken Temperature for Cooked Chicken?
No matter your preferred method of cooking chicken, you’ll want to make certain that the chicken temperature hits at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). This is the chicken temperature that foodsafety.gov recommends; when the chicken reaches this temperature, it’s fully cooked and safe to eat. Overcooked chicken isn’t harmful, but it can be drier and less appetizing. You can follow this how-to to get juicy (and perfectly done) chicken.
How Can You Find the Temperature of Cooked Chicken?
The same way to find the temperature of anything else: A thermometer! If you cook meat at all and don’t own a meat thermometer, you should absolutely get your hands on one—this is our Test Kitchen’s favorite. With one touch, the thermometer can quickly tell you the chicken internal temp so that you can be absolutely certain it’s ready. Mashed recommends sticking the thermometer in a thick part of the meat like a thigh or breast. Make sure to avoid touching the bone with the thermometer, as that can alter the reading of the chicken temperature. Now that you know the correct chicken internal temp to watch for, find out the other mistakes you’ve probably been making while cooking chicken.
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