How To Figure Out If A Chicken Is Done?

It is frustrating when you have prepared so much. But unfortunately, you might serve a raw chicken to your family dinner while everyone else is thrilled to eat. As the one who always cooks for the family, you should know how to tell if the chicken is done.

Techniques On How To Quickly Tell If A Chicken Is Done

Chicken and steak are different from each other. Most people prefer a rare steak on their plate and still consider it safe. But that is not the case for chickens. Chicken shouldn’t turn out raw as it contains a lot of bacteria. The sole purpose of thoroughly cooking a chicken is to kill those organisms that can cause sickness to whoever has eaten a raw one. Not thoroughly cooking the chicken might lead to severe food poisoning, which we believe no one wants to happen, right?

Knowing how to cook a chicken is not just for professionals. It should also be learned by anyone, especially if you are the assigned cook at your home. And if you can distinguish cooked from raw, you can consider it a life advantage already.

The first thing you should notice if the chicken is not yet ready is if there is still blood or if it is still somehow pinky. The chicken meat turns white when it is good to go.

Listed below are more specific ways to tell if you have a cooked chicken:

1. Make use of a food thermometer

how to know if chicken is cooked

Most people who love to cook use their instincts when doing what they are best at. It means most of them do not have a kitchen thermometer. However, one of the most effective and efficient ways to figure out whether your chicken is ready for serving is through a food thermometer. Purchasing a food thermometer is a reliable investment, and you can maximize its function in the long run.

You can detect up to what extent your chicken cooks. And ideally, the recommended temperature should be about 165 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. But that also depends on the chicken part, size, or the cooking method.

When checking the temperature, remember to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken’s body.

A single-piece design thermometer and a digital design are the two common types sold in the market today. Both tool types do their jobs very well. But the digital ones are the most recommended and widely used among many.

You need to avoid getting an inaccurate reading. Therefore, avoid placing the probe adjacent to the bone because chicken bones promptly transmit the heat. You need to stick the tip into the breast—the thickest part of the chicken meat.

Watch the video below to learn more about the proper cooking temperature for meat.

2. The shape of the chicken is shrunken

The chicken also shrinks after being cooked like any other meat—such as pork, beef, and alike. When it has not shrunk yet, the chances of it getting undone are still high. To consider a chicken well done: the shrinkage must be between 10 and 25 percent of the original meat size. However, if the chicken turns out half its original size, it is overcooked.

how to tell if chicken is done

A shrunken chicken is also a good indication that it is ready to go out of the cookware. It is an easy task, especially for those who started cooking recently and are unaware of how to distinguish whether the chicken is cooked or uncooked.

3. Look through the meat

Piercing through the meat is one good way to check the color of the flesh, but it is also better if you do this both with a fork and knife. While doing so, try to look at it with appropriate lighting to see the actual color of the meat. With this, it will help you come up with the correct judgment.

4. Check the texture

how to tell when chicken is done

One way to determine if a chicken is ready is through its texture. Its texture tends to be firm, with a softer mouthfeel when properly cooked. But if it’s dense and tough to chew, it needs more time on the heat.

Remember to find balance when cooking the meat because it does not look appetizing when overcooked.

5. Press the chicken meat

One method to check the rawness of any meat is by doing the finger test. The flesh loses moisture while being cooked. It means its muscle fibers contract when under a specific temperature. You can press on the meat to check the level of its firmness.

It is one good indication by pressing on the meat. And for your reference, you must poke your thumb to your middle finger with a relaxed hand and feel the approximate firmness. Afterward, you can do the same with the meat to make a comparison. However, this technique works well with thin slices of chicken.

Watch the video by Chef Susan to learn more about how to tell if the chicken is ready for serving.

How To Check If The Chicken Is Cooked Without A Food Thermometer

1. Pinkish chicken is still not safe

The color of the chicken meat is also a good indication if it is done or not. Well-done poultry meat turns white through when you cut it out. There will not be any traces of blood that makes it look pink.

If you can still see the slightest pink shade near the chicken bones, then it suggests that the poultry has not yet reached its peak of being cooked. The blood on the bones needs more cooking time until it looks dark purple.

But, it is not always the case because there are times when pink meat does not necessarily mean blood residues.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some pinkish chicken meat may come from the hemoglobin found in tissues that makes it form a thermally stable color.

how to know when chicken is done

2. Check the juices

If a food thermometer is unavailable, check if the chicken is well-done by inspecting its juices. You will need a knife to pierce through the meat. And once juice comes out of it, notice if there are blood stains or residue. If everything else is all clear, that can confirm that your chicken cooks thoroughly.

3. Cooking time is necessary

Another method to ensure that your chicken cooks well is through these two points: cooking time and the correct temperature. Cooking the chicken long enough is one of the safest things to do. But you should ensure that you are doing it at the right temperature. It varies depending on the size and how you want it cooked; grilled, boiled, or roasted. Ensure that you do not cook it for less than the time the recipe requires you to.

How Long Does It Take To Cook A Chicken?

As we said before, the internal temperature for each part should reach at least 165°F. But if you’re cooking a whole chicken, it should be 180°F. Now, let’s see the difference based on four cooking methods.

Cooking Method Part Temperature Time




Whole, stuffed  



350-degree oven


At least 2 hours
Whole, unstuffed 1 hour and 30 mins.
Boneless breast and bone-in thighs 35-45 mins.
Bone-in legs and breast 40-55 mins.




Boneless breast  


No specific temperature as long as in controlled, direct fire.

Less than 12 min/ side
Bone-in breasts and legs Less than 17min/side
Boneless thighs and wings Less than 8 min/side


Pan Fried

Boneless breasts and bone-in thigh  


Medium-high heat

8-10 mins/side
Bone-in breasts and bone-in legs 15 minutes/side
Deep Fried Equal size parts of the chicken 350-375 degrees At least 15 minutes or until golden brown

The last mentioned method is the trickiest of them all. Why so? The external heat rises faster than it is to cook the inside of the chicken. You get a browned chicken skin, but the meat near the bone is still raw to the core—literally! So if you plan to do deep frying with big batches, use a food thermometer for efficient cooking.

Tip: Boil the chicken first with spices for at least 30 minutes. Then, let it cool down for an hour or overnight before deep frying it. It ensures that the inside cooks before you blast it with heat.  

Can you be food poisoned with raw chicken?

how to tell when chicken is done

The sole reason chickens have to follow strict cooking is to kill the bacterias that can cause food poisoning. And one of the bacteria that chicken attracts the most is salmonella. Apart from salmonella, the other bacterias found in chickens are Campylobacter, Clostridium Perfringens, and E. Coli.

If you do not feel okay after eating undone chicken, most likely, you are food poisoned. You may experience unpleasant signs and symptoms of food poisoning. Some of it manifests as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever

When you experience any of this, it is necessary to get urgent medical help. That is to avoid a more serious health problem that you may encounter.

First-aid treatment for food poisoning

The effect of food poisoning also varies for people, just like any other illness. Some people are at a higher risk when food is poisoned and might need antibiotics to treat themselves. It ranges from infants under five years old; and elders past the age of 65. Women that are pregnant and people who have low immunity are part of the high risk.

When you are food-poisoned and only experience vomiting and regular diarrhea, drink plenty of water. Or diluted fruit juice, and other fluids to keep you hydrated.

But if symptoms persist, then immediately consult a professional. That is especially when you start experiencing bloody diarrhea.

How long does salmonella take to kick in?

Symptoms may appear for six hours if you’ve eaten raw chicken with salmonella. But there are instances where people only show signs six days after infection.

Watch out for stomach upset and change in body temperature. Symptoms usually last from four days to a week for mild cases and can persist for several weeks in extreme conditions. To ease up the pain, healthcare professionals usually prescribe antibiotics that combat the bacteria.

Watch to learn more about first aid and food poisoning.



Make sure that you serve and eat a well-done chicken to avoid any health problems that may arise. A chicken that is not cooked completely still contains bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Learning to tell if the chicken is done will be your lifetime advantage, which will come in handy one day.


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