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Avoid These Common Mistakes for Overcooking Chicken

barbecue chicken

As popular as it is on dinner tables around the world, chicken is often overcooked. Fears over uncooked poultry may sometimes cause people to cook this meat longer than they need. To make sure it is safe to eat, some people have a tendency for overcooking chicken.

This is unfortunate for two reasons. Not only is overcooked chicken a chore to eat, but it is something that can be easily avoided. 

To make sure your chicken is the best it can be, take care not to repeat these common mistakes for overcooking chicken.

Problem #1: Cooking at Cold Temperatures

As we had told you in our blog How to Avoid Overcooking Your Chicken, it’s important to cook chicken quickly at high temperatures to help preserve its moisture. To accomplish this, it’s important to get your ingredients ready for cooking by getting them out of the refrigerator early.

Allow your chicken meat to sit on your counter for 15-30 minutes before cooking. This will allow your meat to comfortably reach room temperature, and help ensure it has an even temperature both inside and out. As well, this will help the meat cook evenly without delay.

Not only that, there is a counterpoint to this problem. In addition to not cooking with cold meat, you should also avoid cooking with a cold pan. Don’t put in your chicken meat before the pan or grill is nice and hot. This will stop the chicken meat from steaming instead of searing or sauteing.

Problem #2: Not Resting After Cooking

The sight of a freshly cooked piece of chicken is always inviting, but there is a good reason why you should let it rest first. First, you want to avoid biting into food that has the same high temperatures as your grill or pan. Secondly, allowing cooked chicken to rest right after removing it from heat is an important step for preserving its moisture.
 
If you cut too soon after removing it from your grill/pan, your cooked chicken may lose much of its juices. Let your chicken sit for a few minutes in its final state, and you’ll be able to enjoy it in its full, juicy glory.

 

Problem #3: Washing Raw Chicken

With all the dangers surrounding chicken meat, it seems like rinsing it under water may be a good way to keep it clean. However, the opposite is true. Allowing packaged chicken meat to get wet before cooking is against food safety rules. You should never wash raw chicken; letting water splash onto your counter as you wash it under the faucet will increase the chances of contamination in your kitchen.
 

Instead of washing, the best thing you should do for chicken meat before cooking is to dry it. By patting it with a paper towel, you can remove excess water that delays the cooking process and interferes with browning. Moreover, excess water may also cause splashing to occur if cooking with oil. 

READ: How To Avoid Overcooking Your Chicken

Problem #4: Thawing on Your Kitchen Counter

 Before having chicken for dinner, many people need to defrost it after having stored it in the freezer. However, as you allow it to thaw on your countertop, you’re allowing it to become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Room temperature at extended durations is bad for raw chicken; this is especially true for the exterior of the meat that thaws much quicker than its solid interior.

 

To safely thaw frozen chicken, put it inside your fridge the night before and allow it to thaw overnight. Conversely, you can also put your frozen chicken inside a plastic bag and submerge it in water, replacing it with fresh water so that it remains closer to room temperature.

 

Problem #5: Overcrowding Your Pan

As pleased as most people are to crowd their dinner plates, you should take care not to crowd your food as it cooks. This is especially true with chicken meat because overcrowding can result in uneven cooking times.

 

Instead of packing as much as you can on a frying pan or baking sheet, take the time to space out your food. Give each ingredient the proper space it needs to properly cook all the way through. If not, your chicken meat may be steaming instead of searing.

Tired of making the same mistakes? Want some tips to improve the way you cook chicken? Check out these simple tips:

 

bbq chicken recipe

Tip #1: Thighs Instead of Breast

Chicken breasts are notoriously difficult to cook properly; not only are they thick, but are also asymmetrical, making for uneven cooking.

As an alternative, choose chicken thighs instead. Not only does this cut of chicken commonly come with skin attached, but bone as well – two things that greatly help chicken meat retain its juiciness.

Tip #2: Start in the Pan, Finish in the Oven

Adopt a dual strategy as the most effective way to cook chicken! Start by searing your chicken in a pan at medium-high heat to allow its skin to get nicely crisp; finish by putting it in the oven at a lower temperature where it can reach its proper internal cooking temperature.

 

Tip #3: Marinade/Rub/Season/Brine

Take care not to skimp over this all-important part of chicken preparation. Depending on the recipe, chicken meat may need seasoning for extra flavor, or a long brine can help create moisture inside the meat.

Looking for inspiration? Try common seasonings such as lemon pepper, lemon zest, cayenne, olive oil, or paprika.

Final Thoughts

However you cook your chicken, be sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. This will ensure it is fully cooked, safe to eat, and – very important to cooked chicken – remains juicy and delicious to eat.

As a precise and convenient way to measure the internal temperatures of food, try using a ThermoPro meat thermometer. Our instant-read thermometers are designed to quickly provide accurate results using the innovative technology that our best-selling products are known for.

 

Browse our store to discover the full line-up of ThermoPro thermometers!

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