Raw chicken = salmonella: this simple equation was drilled into all of us at a young age. We were told not to touch raw chicken with our bare hands, or at least wash them thoroughly afterward, and to never eat it.
But avoiding raw chicken is a task easier said than done. Not all raw chicken has a flagrantly pink, meaty look to warn us of impending danger. So, what are some other ways to tell if chicken is undercooked? Below, we cover four suspicious signs that your cluck didn’t get enough cooking time.
Look at the Meat
This isn’t the most reliable method, but studying the color of your chicken can help determine doneness. Generally, a cooked chicken will be white or tan; an undercooked chicken will be pink.
That said, chicken can look white or tan and still be undercooked—cooking at high temperatures can cause the meat to look cooked before its interior temperature reaches the recommended minimum. Also, small traces of pink don’t always mean the meat is raw—these traces are common (and safe) in juicier cuts.
Touch the Meat
If you’re not squeamish, touch the chicken with your bare hands (just make sure to wash them after). How does it feel? Is it firm and dry? Or is it soft, spongy, and moist? Cooked chicken is typically firmer and drier than undercooked meat, which is bouncy and tender.
Cut the Meat
A simple way to tell if your chicken is not fully cooked is to grab the nearest knife, cut into it, and observe how the juices flow. Does the meat juice run clear? If so, your chicken is adequately cooked. But if the juice has a red or pink tinge to it, you should cook your meat a bit longer.
Use a Thermometer
This is the most reliable way to test the doneness of your chicken. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, and wait for a reading. According to the USDA, the internal temperature of your chicken should be no less than 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption.
There are several ways to tell if chicken is undercooked. Eating raw chicken comes with a lot of risks. The last thing you want is to unknowingly consume a chunk and get sick, so carefully inspect all your meats—both ones you’ve cooked yourself and ones you’ve bought—before you dive in!