dcsimg

How To Cook Chicken

Chicken is one of the most popular and widely consumed meats in the world. Beyond being readily available, it is also relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of meat, making it a staple in many households.

While some people may dismiss chicken as being bland or boring, don't overlook its possibilities. If you know how to cook chicken the right way, it can be succulent and flavorful. The key is to understanding which cooking methods should be used to bring out the best in each cut of meat.

Different cuts of chicken

Chicken is sold in a variety of sizes and packaged in numerous ways from the whole bird to individual parts. Here's a rundown of how most people buy chicken.

  • Whole Chicken: Whole chickens less than four pounds are typically referred to as fryers or broilers; anything over four pounds is called a roaster. Very large chickens may be called stewing chickens.
  • Breasts: Chicken breasts are white meat and the tenderest part of the bird. They can be sold bone-in or boneless. Bone-in chicken often includes skin while boneless breasts are usually also skinless.
  • Legs and Thighs: As the dark meat components of a chicken, thighs and legs (also called drumsticks) are often cooked the same way.
  • Wings: Containing little meat, wings are often used for appetizers.

How to Cook Chicken

Most common ways to cook each cut of chicken

Depending on the part of the chicken, different cooking techniques should be used. Dry rubs, brines, and marinades are all good ways to impart chicken with flavor. Cooking with the skin on and the bone intact also helps retain moisture.

Here are more details on what you should know about each cut.

Whole chicken

  • Whole chickens are best when roasted although stewing chickens can be tough and should be braised.
  • Because a whole chicken contains both white and dark meat, roasting ensures the entire chicken cooks through.
  • Prepare a whole chicken by removing the giblets that may be in the cavity and then seasoning the bird. It can be placed in the oven and cooked at 375-425 degrees. A 3 pound bird should be done in about 1-1.5 hours depending on the temperature.
  • A whole chicken is done when juice from the breasts runs clear.
  • Whole chickens can also be grilled or barbequed. Beer can chicken on the grill is a popular variation.

Chicken breasts

  • Chicken breasts are best grilled, broiled or sautéed.
  • Since chicken breasts are very lean, they can quickly dry out. It's essential to cook them quickly over high heat, particularly boneless, skinless breasts. Bone-in breasts with skin retain moisture better and can be cooked slower.
  • Before cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pound them to flatten the thicker end so they will cook uniformly. Then, cook on each side for 3-4 minutes until done.
  • Since chicken can carry salmonella, a deadly bacteria, it should always be cooked thoroughly. However, since chicken breasts can dry out quickly, they should be removed from heat immediately once they are done.
  • Chicken breasts can also be cut up into tenders and breaded or cubed and used in stir frys and other recipes.

Chicken legs and thighs

  • Dark meats work well in braises, stews or other slow cooked dishes.
  • Since legs and thighs have a greater fat content than breasts, they can withstand longer cook times without drying out.
  • Chicken usually benefits from additional seasonings and ingredients so don't braise chicken alone. Instead, look for a recipe such as Moroccan tagline or a stew to bring out the best in dark meat.
  • Dark meat is done and safe to eat when its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Boneless, skinless thighs can sometimes be used as a less expensive substitute in recipes calling for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Chicken wings

  • Chicken wings are most commonly baked or roasted although they can also be fried or broiled.
  • Since chicken wings are small, they are typically served as appetizers. Once done, they often tossed with a sauce before serving.
  • For crispy wings, set your oven to 400 degrees and toss the wings with oil and salt. Then cook for 25 minutes until done.
  • Wings should be crisp and well done for serving.
  • Some cooks use raw wings to make homemade chicken stock.

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Each campus features a public restaurant where culinary students work under the direction of professional chefs for real-world experience.
            • Hosts Platt College’s Food Fight, a friendly dessert competition for students held once a month.
            • Offers programs in culinary arts, nursing, and healthcare.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (AFC) and Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 5 campuses in Lawton, North and Central Oklahoma City, Moore, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
            Show more [+]
            2 Program(s) Found
            Virginia College , Fort Pierce
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            2 Program(s) Found
            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits