When cooking chicken, it’s very important that you heat it to the proper temperature. While it’s not safe to eat any type of meat undercooked, poultry is the worst. Raw chicken can carry bacteria that may cause food poisoning. The raw juices that contain the bacteria can also spread to other foods and beverages, so it’s important that you handle the chicken properly as well.

With more than one million people in the U.S. getting sick each year from contaminated poultry, it’s important that you are aware of the safe handling and preparation of these foods. Below is more information about the proper internal temperature for cooked chicken.

What is the Correct Temperature for Cooked Chicken?

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) recommends cooking whole chicken and parts of chicken to 165 degrees F. To do this, you’ll need to set your oven to 350 and 450 degrees F to ensure the inside of the chicken reaches the right temperature.

The time needed to cook your chicken depends on how you’re cooking it. As an example, four ounces of chicken breast should be cooked at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes, simmered for 25 to 30 minutes or grilled for 6 to 8 minutes on each side.

You can follow the recommendations on the recipe, but it’s also a good idea to have an instant read thermometer on hand. This will prevent you from overcooking or undercooking the chicken. Cooking chicken is a balancing act, as you don’t want dry, chewy chicken!

Tips for Checking the Internal Temperature of Chicken

Each oven, stovetop and grill is different, so it can be tricky to know if your chicken is actually cooked through. Even if you follow the recipe, it’s still a bit of a guessing game. To check the internal temperature, use a food thermometer. This way, you won’t make the chicken dry by overcooking it, and you won’t make anyone sick by undercooking it.

There are many types of food thermometers, but all you need is a basic thermometer. No need to buy anything expensive with all the bells and whistles. You just need something dependable, and it should only cost a few dollars. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken. For a whole chicken, that’s the breast.

A properly cooked chicken will read 165 degrees and stay that way for 30 seconds. As long as you are getting these readings, let the chicken rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. Getting in the habit of checking internal temperatures is an easy way to serve better chicken and protect your family from food-borne illness.

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