The right temperature for cooking chicken is either 160 F or 170 F to 180 F. The lower measurement is used by a lot of chefs and cooks. The higher measurement is suggested by the government. The disparity is explained below.
Conservative vs. Liberal Cooking
According to the government food agencies, the level must reach 180 F in the thigh, drumsticks and wings. The breast section must be 170 F. At this level, all the bacteria will be eliminated.
Research indicates that microorganisms will be eradicated at 150 F but it’s best to be sure. This is often called the conservative way of cooking.
But some chefs argue that the temperature for cooking chicken should not be higher than 160 / 165 F. The problem with cooking at such high degrees is it will harden the chicken.
This doesn’t even count the resting time which can push the heat range another ten degrees or more. By settling for 160 F, the meat will be tender. Most now cook at 165 F.
So on one hand are the liberals who think that 160 F is the right cooking range and the conservatives who think it should be 170 F. In the end it’s up to the individual. However most people feel confident cooking at 160 F. But probably more important is where you buy and how it’s prepared before cooking.
Using a Digital Thermometer
The temperature for cooking chicken can be determined easily with a digital meat thermometer. Place it on the thickest / meatiest part. Now you just have to wait for the thermometer to reach 165 F or 170 F. The oven heat should be 350 F. The time it will cook varies.
But the vital factor is the internal temperature. If it reaches 165 F, then it’s cooked. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, use a fork. Make a cut and check the color. If it is cooked, it should be white. If it’s still raw, it will be pink.
Tips for Preparation and Cooking
Besides the temperature for cooking chicken, there are other things you need to keep in mind. For example, browning the meat prior to baking will shorten the process.
For maximum freshness, keep freezing to a minimum. The problem is that thawing drains a lot of its natural moisture. If you need to store the chicken, wrap it tightly. You shouldn’t get rid of the skin either. It holds in the marinade juice. Placing a foil over
the breast section will keep it tender too.
Bear in mind that dark meat takes longer to cook than white meat. To expedite cooking, consider chopping the chicken into smaller pieces. It also helps soften the meat.
Rest the chicken for ten minutes or so. You can add or remove a few minutes depending on its size. Afterwards you can proceed to carve it.
Most people would recommend the temperature for cooking chicken at 160 to 165 F. If you buy those in clean tight plastic and wash it thoroughly, there shouldn’t be any problems with bacteria.