The Right Internal Temperature for Cooked Chicken

updated Jun 3, 2022
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Credit: Leela Cyd

When roasting a whole chicken, baking thighs in the oven, or making the crispiest, juiciest fried chicken for Sunday supper, you want to make sure you cook the chicken thoroughly to safeguard guests against foodborne illnesses. Chicken is safe to eat and ready for the dinner table when the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

How to Take the Internal Temperature of Chicken

A meat or instant-read thermometer is your best bet for determining the temperature of your chicken.

  • Whole bird: According to the USDA, you want take the temperature of a whole bird by inserting the thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing, and the thickest part of the breast. Avoid bones. If the temperature reads 165°F, then the chicken is ready.
  • Breasts: Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and rest the probe in the center. Sometimes you get the best reading if you go in from the side.
  • Wings, thighs, tips, legs: Follow a similar process to temping any of the pieces mentioned above; stay away from the bone and aim for the thickest part.

If you don’t have a thermometer, an easy visual clue is that all the juices that come from the chicken should run clear and not be pink.

What Is the Safe Cooking Temperature of Ground Chicken?

Whole cuts of beef, lamb, pork, or veal can be cooked to 145°F, while their ground counterparts must be cooked to 160°F.

When working outside of the realm of poultry, home cooks have a few more numbers to remember, but chicken keeps it pretty simple: Chicken is much easier to remember because all chicken, including ground chicken, should be cooked to 165°F.

More Chicken Cooking Tips from The Kitchn