How to Know When Baked Chicken Is Ready Without a Thermometer

The best way to know if a baked chicken is ready or to gauge roast chicken temperature it to use a thermometer.
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The best way to know if a baked chicken is ready or to gauge roast chicken temperature it to use a thermometer. That said, if you don't have a thermometer on hand, there are a few methods you can use to determine whether the chicken is ready.


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Check Roast Chicken Temperature

The most reliable way of checking if your chicken is ready is by using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature. According to USDA, poultry should be cooked at a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To use a food thermometer, place it in the thickest part of the meat toward the end of its cooking time.


But what if you don't have a thermometer? Is there another way to know if the meat is done? According to the Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF), there are alternative methods of testing whether the chicken is fully cooked.

You can pierce a skewer into the thickest part of the chicken, then observe the juice that seeps out. It should be clear and not pink, an indication of blood. ACMF also suggests cutting into the meat and checking that the color is no longer pink, though this may not be completely reliable as some meat will remain pink even when fully cooked through.


If chicken is white is it cooked? Another article from ACMF explains that when cooked, the color of the chicken meat should be consistently white when cut in half at the thickest point.

Read more: How to Bake Chicken Breasts in the Oven and Keep Them Tender


If Chicken is Undercooked

It's best to properly check whether your chicken is fully cooked, as undercooked chicken can induce a foodborne illness. An undercooked chicken breast, for example, may cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Other symptoms of food poisoning include high fever, bloody stool and signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth and throat, dizziness and producing little urine. If these symptoms persist, you should consult a doctor. Children under five, adults over 65, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to foodborne illnesses.

The good news is that it's hard to overcook chicken meat, says ACMF: Food Safety and Chicken Meat. Chicken doesn't become tough if it's cooked longer, so if you're unsure whether the chicken is cooked, best to be safe and keep it in the oven for a bit longer. This way you'll ensure that you've killed the harmful bacteria without overcooking the chicken.

Read more: How to Bake a Plain Chicken Breast

Baked Chicken Food Safety Tips

Thoroughly cooking chicken to kill harmful bacteria is just one safety precaution you'll need to take when preparing poultry. Other safety precautions, according to USDA: Chicken From Farm to Table include cleaning your hands and surfaces often, separating raw poultry from other foods to avoid contamination and immediately refrigerating raw chicken or cooked chicken that isn't being eaten.

USDA: Chicken From Farm to Table also presents a table with approximate cooking times for different parts of the chicken. Four ounces of boneless chicken breasts for example, should take approximately 20 to 30 minutes to cook at 350 F. The same amount of chicken legs or thighs should take 40 to 50 minutes to cook and wings should take 30 to 40 minutes. It's good to have these times in mind when you're trying to gauge when your chicken will be ready.

As for storage: buy the product before the expiration date, follow the safe handling instructions, keep chicken in its package until it's ready to use or overwrap if freezing. Raw chicken can be refrigerated for up to two days and frozen for up to nine months and cooked chicken can be refrigerated for up to four days and frozen for up to four months.