Everything you need to know about cooking chicken perfectly

Adella Miesner

Table of Contents Steps to perfect chickenBuy good quality chickenLeave the skin onGive thighs a goUse plenty of saltExperiment with big flavoursMarinade for maximum impactAlways preheat the panDon’t overcrowd the meatCook breasts with a heavy grill panLeave it to cookPoach chicken in stockTry a chicken tray bake for a low-effort […]


It doesn’t matter how you cook the meat, low-quality chicken will compromise on taste and the animals’ welfare. Check where the meat came from and how it was raised – free range is best. If you’re buying packaged or frozen chicken breasts, check the ingredients to ensure they’re not pumped with water to make them appear better value by weight.



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Bones and skin help keep meat moist as it cooks. Chicken breast in particular cooks much better with skin because, as there’s so little fat, it needs all the help it can get to retain moisture. If you don’t like the taste of the skin (or want to lower the calorie count), peel it off once it’s cooked. It will make all the difference.



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They might be slightly fattier, but chicken thighs are full of flavour. The dark meat is easier to keep moist during cooking and much more resilient if you leave a dish in the oven a little too long. Better still, as thighs remain less popular than chicken breasts, they’re likely to offer better value for money.



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Chicken benefits from ample seasoning to enhance its flavour. Don’t just salt chicken once it’s cooked, but before as this will help the skin crisp and ensure it’s flavoured throughout. This is especially important if you’re roasting a whole chicken where you should be sure to season the cavity too.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Another trick to get beautiful crispy skin when frying chicken is to ensure the pan and oil are hot before you add the meat. The skin won’t crisp if it heats slowly while the pan warms. A light vegetable oil is best for frying – you can always add extra flavour with a drizzle of olive oil before you serve.



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Cramming chicken into a pan doesn’t make it cook faster when you’re frying. Doing this actually traps the heat under the meat, creating steam and preventing the chicken from browning. If you’re cooking large volumes, it’s best to fry chicken in batches to ensure all pieces are evenly cooked.



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If you’re cooking whole chicken breasts and want to get restaurant-quality results, ditch your favourite frying pan in exchange for a heavy grill pan. The ridges will add colour, transforming your finished dish from bland to beautiful.



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When shallow-frying or grilling, turning chicken too often prevents it from browning and a crispy skin forming, which in turn seals in flavour and moisture. Allow the chicken plenty of time to cook before flipping it. A sign it isn’t ready is the spatula won’t slide under the meat easily.



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Poaching chicken might be a healthy option, but it can lead to bland and dry meat. If you decide to poach, ensure you’re adding as much flavour as possible. The best way to do this is by using a good poaching liquid: chicken stock with onions, peppercorns and bay leaves is a simple option.



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Another way to keep chicken breasts super moist is to individually wrap pieces in foil parcels, ideally with a light sauce. A little chicken stock, olive oil and lemon juice or white wine works wonders or you could go sauce-free as the foil alone helps to seal in moisture.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Cutting the meat straight after a chicken comes out of the oven will release the juices and dry the chicken out. A whole chicken should be left to sit, wrapped in tin foil, for around 15 minutes before it’s carved.



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Nothing beats homemade fried chicken – but the process takes time. If you want to get perfectly crispy but tender Southern-style wings and drumsticks, set aside a day to marinate the meat and make them properly. A quick coating of flour and a few minutes of frying just won’t cut it.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


The key to frying chicken perfectly is the oil temperature. You want the oil to be very hot, about 180°C (360°F), when you first put the chicken in. For best results, the oil should remain between 150°C to 160°C (300°F to 325°F). This temperature range will cook the chicken through without burning the crust. (When frying at home make sure your pan is only one-third full of oil).



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Avoid using paper towels to drain fried chicken because they create steam which can make the chicken soggy. The best way to drain fried chicken is to place it on a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet.



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There’s an easy way to ruin leftover fried chicken: reheating it in the microwave. Although microwaving chicken will make it safe to eat, it will also make the coating soggy. Reheat it in the oven on a high heat for about 20 minutes to keep it crispy.



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Think you can’t make your favourite fast food order at home? Think again. Homemade nuggets can be just as crispy and delicious. Cut your chicken into bite-sized chunks, coat in seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs, then fry in vegetable oil for around eight minutes.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Cooking chicken (particularly smaller pieces such as wings) over direct heat can cause the meat to burn, sometimes charring the outside of the chicken while the inside remains completely rare. There are two ways to avoid this: keep the heat steady and if you’re using a sugary barbecue sauce or sticky teriyaki sauce only baste the meat towards the end of the cooking time.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


However you cook chicken, remember to store it and cook it safely. When buying fresh chicken, check it has been kept refrigerated and is well-sealed. At home, store raw meat separately from other chilled goods to avoid any risk of cross-contaminating food that’s ready to eat.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


39/39 SLIDES

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