How do you make chicken soft and juicy?

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How do you make chicken soft and juicy?

How do you cook your chicken? How do you make chicken soft and juicy?Does it always come out raw? Or dry and rubbery?

Cooking chicken has always been a little tricky. Different parts of the chicken would correspond to different cooking times. And it has only to be cooked through as no one should eat rare or even a medium-rare chicken.

There is a lot of temperatures to remember when it comes to cooking chicken:

  • First is the guidelines set by the USFDA for the minimum cooking temperatures and rest time for chicken. It is the temperatures needed to ensure that all foodborne related bacteria would be eliminated. 
  • The temperature of the oven, oil or any medium you would use in cooking your chicken. 
  • The temperature that would ensure you’re cooking your chicken to its utmost quality. 

It is a handful, right? Cooking a chicken that would meet the following criteria yet producing safe and mouth-watering chicken? Cooking a part that has both white and dark meat? Cooking a whole chicken? Adding Stuffing’s? Now, that’s a lot of work. 

What is the best temperature to cook your chicken?

According to chicken cooking times the following cooking temperature would ensure the best cooking time within the required internal temperature of the USFDA.

Roasting

Chicken cutInternal temperatureAverage cooking time
Boneless, skinless breast.
140g – 200g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)35-45 minutes
Boneless, skinless thigh.
60g-115g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)20-30 minutes
Bone-in, skinless tigh/drimstick
80g-130g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)35-45 minutes
bone-in breast
170g-250g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)40-50 minutes
bone-in legs
200g-300g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)40-55 minutes
ground chicken patties
120g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)30 minutes
whole chicken- stuffed
1500g (raw)
180°F(82°C)2hours 10minutes
whole chicken- unstuffed
1500g (raw)
180°F(82°C)1hour 40minutes
wings
90g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)25 minutes

The temperature of the oven is 350°F and check internal temperature of chicken uncovered.

Grilling

Chicken cutInternal temperatureAverage cooking time
Boneless, skinless breast.
140g – 200g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)9-12 minutes per side
Boneless, skinless thigh.
60g-115g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)5-8 minutes per side
Bone-in, skinless tigh/drimstick
80g-130g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)7-10 minutes per side
bone-in breast
170g-250g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)14-17 minutes per side
bone-in legs
200g-300g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)15-18 minutes per side
ground chicken patties
120g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)6 minutes per side
whole chicken- unstuffed
1500g (raw)
180°F(82°C)1hour 40minutes
wings
90g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)8 minutes per side

Cooking the chicken on a very hot grill would burn the skin before the meat cooks, Medium low heat would be the best temperature to start with. You always can turn the heat up!

Pan-fried

Chicken cutInternal temperatureAverage cooking time
Boneless, skinless breast.
140g – 200g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)8-11 minutes per side
Boneless, skinless thigh.
60g-115g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)5-7 minutes per side
Bone-in, skinless tigh/drimstick
80g-130g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)8-11 minutes per side
bone-in breast
170g-250g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)11-15 minutes per side
bone-in legs
200g-300g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)13-16 minutes per side
ground chicken patties
120g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)8 minutes per side
wings
90g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)8 minutes per side

Cook your chicken in a medium high heat in a pre-heated pan.

Breaded Chicken

Chicken cutInternal temperatureAverage cooking time
5 nuggets
51g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)20 minutes
2 tenders
51 (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)20 minutes
1 breaded chicken burger
85g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)25 minutes
1 stuffed breaded chicken breast
142g (raw) per piece
165°F(74°C)35 minutes
1 piece fried chicken
200g (raw)
165°F(74°C)25 minutes

Based on frozen goods

Is cooking the white and dark part of the chicken meat the same?

First let’s review, do you know your chicken well? Do you know which part is white meat and which part is dark meat?

Okay, I’ll give you 10 seconds to think about it…

Now stop and say your answers. The white meat part of the chicken is consist of the breast, tenders, and wings, while the dark meat is the drumstick and thighs. 

Did you get the answer correct? You did? so let’s proceed.

Although the dark meat’s biggest difference with the white meat is the number of calories and fat it contains. 

Have you ever eaten rubbery and gummy texture? It’s because the dark meat needs to be cooked to a higher temperature for connective tissue collagen to melts and converts into gelatin. At 160°F the collagen starts to breakdown but keeping the temperature around 170°F would allow collagen to breakdown more and produce juicier dark meat.

Quick overlook for your chickens juicyness.

With this chart your chicken well never be undercooked!

Temperature (°F )fat % = 7fat % = 9fat % = 12
14029 min30.8 min35 min
14123.2 min24.9 min28.7 min
14218.7 min20.1 min23.5 min
14315.1 min16.3 min19.3 min
14412.2 min13.2 min15.9 min
1459.8 min10.7 min13 min
1467.9 min8.6 min10.6 min
1476.3 min6.9 min8.6 min
1485 min5.5 min6.8 min
1493.9 min4.3 min5.4 min
1503 min3.3 min4.2 min
1512.2 min2.5 min3.1 min
1521.7 min1.8 min2.3 min
1531.3 min1.4 min1.6 min
1541 min1.1 min1.1 min
15549.5 sec51.4 sec54.4 sec
15639.2 sec40.7 sec43 sec
15731 sec32.2 sec34 sec
15824.5 sec25.4 sec26.9 sec
15919.4 sec20.1 sec21.3 sec
16015.3 sec15.9 sec16.9 sec
16112.1 sec12.6 sec13.3 sec
1629.6 sec10 sec10.5 sec
163<10.0 sec<10.0 sec<10.0 sec
164<10.0 sec<10.0 sec<10.0 sec
165<10.0 sec<10.0 sec<10.0 sec

The dark meat consist of a much higher fat percentage while white meat has a lesser fat percentage.

So…………….

How to make your chicken juicy?

The idea is to cook your chicken at a lower temperature but retain its temperature in a much longer time than keeping it at 165°F (74°C) for an approximately much shorter time. 

The trick is choosing the best result for you and according to the book published by James Kenji López-Alt titled the food lab, the following results can be observed at a different temperature:

  • 140°F: The proteins of the meat coagulate making the meat firm and almost opaque thus creating a pinkish-tinged and extremely soft, with the texture of a warm steak and about fleshy.
  • 145°F: Pale pink but completely opaque, very juicy and a little soft. 
  • 150°F: White and opaque, still juicy, and firmness cab be observed.
  • 155°F: White and opaque, starting to turn a little bit stringy and bordering on the dry side.
  • 160°F and higher: Dry, stringy, and chalky. Most of the fluids are expelled due to the conversion of collagen into rich gelatin.

By holding the chicken to your chosen temperature, you should be able to verify the internal temperature and keep that temperature for the appropriate time needed. I would recommend cooking your chicken between 150°F to 155°F as the juiciness is still good and carry-over cooking can assure you your meat is safe.

Just remember that residual heat from the outer layers of the chicken will keep the temperature rising, allowing you to keep the chicken cooking at a much higher temperature during resting time. Cooking environment and the amount of meat cooked would have an effect on the residual heat carrying over to the internal meat of the chicken.

A larger cut would produce an increase in the internal temperature more than a smaller cut.

Setting the initial temperature of your cooking environment high would allow the meat to carryover a much higher temperature.

Resting would also help to ensure that your chicken retains most of its moisture and allow juices to reabsorb into the meat. 

How do you properly rest your chicken? 

  1. The general rule is to rest your chicken from 10 to 20 minutes before moving and cutting it. Size, cuts and cooking procedure would affect your resting time.
  2. The larger the portion the longer the resting time it needs.
  3. Keep the chicken uncovered. Allowing it to retain its heat and reabsorb all of its juices.

How would an internal thermometer be a factor to all of this?

In order to achieve the corresponding temperatures needed for your moist and juicy chicken, you should first be able to check the temperature. A simple instant-read thermometer can sufficiently check temperature upon reaching your desired temperature and during resting time.

Locate the thickest part of the chicken that would not hit any bone or fat as it would have an effect on the temperature. Do not leave an instant-read thermometer stabbed to the meat and just check it towards the end of the cooking process.

Conclusion

As almost every untrained cook would result in overcooking chicken using old methods would show the importance of checking the internal temperature of your meat.

Following the guidelines set by the USFDA that at 165°F (74°C), you would achieve the level of doneness needed to ensure the destruction of all foodborne bacteria, but by cooking it at a much lower temperature and holding it with the corresponding pasteurization time, you would achieve the quality of moisture and juiciness of your liking.

Tracking the residual heat during resting would ensure safety when cooking under those lower temperatures and the importance of using an internal thermometer would be the key to achieving your wanted temperature that would result in the most moist and juicy chicken you have ever prepared.

1 Comment

  1. ben andril

    Good read

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