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How to Cook Chicken Safely

Safe Cooking

Cook whole chicken to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured using a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook poultry to higher temperatures.

For approximate cooking times to use in meal planning, see the following chart compiled from various resources.

Approximate Chicken Cooking Times
Type of Chicken Weight Roasting
350 °F
Simmering Grilling
Whole broiler fryer+ 3 to 4 lbs. 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hrs. 60 to 75 min. 60 to 75 min*
Whole roasting hen+ 5 to 7 lbs. 2 to 2 1/4 hrs. 1 3/4 to 2 hrs. 18-25 min/lb*
Whole capon+ 4 to 8 lbs. 2 to 3 hrs Not suitable 15-20 min/lb*
Whole Cornish hens+ 18-24 oz. 50 to 60 min. 35 to 40 min. 45 to 55 min*
Breast halves, bone-in 6 to 8 oz. 30 to 40 min. 35 to 45 min. 10 - 15 min/side
Breast half, boneless 4 ounces 20 to 30 min. 25 to 30 min. 6 to 8 min/side
Legs or thighs 8 or 4 oz. 40 to 50 min. 40 to 50 min. 10 - 15 min/side
Drumsticks 4 ounces 35 to 45 min. 40 to 50 min. 8 to 12 min/side
Wings or wingettes 2 to 3 oz. 30 to 40 min. 35 to 45 min. 8 to 12 min/side

+ Unstuffed. If stuffed, add 15 to 30 minutes additional time.
* Indirect method using drip pan.

Microwave Directions:
  • Microwave on medium-high (70 percent power): whole chicken, 9 to 10 minutes per pound; bone-in parts and Cornish hens, 8 to 9 minutes per pound; boneless breasts halves, 6 to 8 minutes per pound.
  • When microwaving parts, arrange in dish or on rack so thick parts are toward the outside of dish and thin or bony parts are in the center.
  • Place whole chicken in an oven cooking bag or in a covered pot.
  • For boneless breast halves, place in a dish with 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap.
  • Allow 10 minutes standing time for bone-in chicken; 5 minutes for boneless breast.
  • The USDA recommends cooking whole poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured using a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. When cooking pieces, the breast, drumsticks, thighs, and wings should be cooked until they reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook poultry to higher temperatures.


Partial Cooking

Never brown or partially cook chicken to refrigerate and finish cooking later because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. It is safe to partially pre-cook or microwave chicken immediately before transferring it to the hot grill to finish cooking.

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