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Chicken is an easy addition to almost any recipe. It’s also a cost-effective protein if you buy and roast a whole chicken instead of buying different cuts. The one tricky thing is making sure the meat isn’t still raw.
Eating under-done chicken, or any meat, could lead to food poisoning from salmonella and E. coli, or other symptoms like stomach pain, vomiting, and fever. Finding the right balance of doneness is challenging, but not impossible. One common tip is to cut into the thickest part of the meat, but if that meat is done, that means smaller or leaner pieces are now overdone. (Don’t miss these seven mistakes everyone makes when cooking chicken.)
The easy trick to knowing when chicken is thoroughly cooked is using a thermometer. Test the temperature in the thigh area, near the breast, or the thickest part of the chicken. Health Canada says that the internal temperature of a whole chicken should reach 82°C. Make sure that your thermometer isn’t touching the bone since that could give you a faulty reading. (Here’s why you should never wash chicken before cooking it.)
There are a few other hints that chicken isn’t raw anymore—but they shouldn’t be your stand-alone test since they don’t guarantee doneness. Another way to check is by sizing up the bird, since chicken shrinks when it’s cooked. Note, however, that there’s usually less of a size difference in cooked chicken that’s still on the bone. If the chicken shrinks extremely, it’s likely overcooked. Anything pink is also a sign the chicken is probably not safe to eat. This includes pink meat and pink or bloody juices, too. Don’t poke too far down or completely cut the meat to check the juices. Keeping as much of it inside the chicken will avoid drying it out.