Internal Temperature for Chicken - thoughs?

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Daba's BBQ

Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Jun 24, 2021
340
227
Metro NYC

TARGET INTERNAL TEMPERATURE FOR CHICKEN*​

This one took a while for me to adjust to, but now, it's like I've been blind and now can see. We've been taught to cook chicken to 165F, right? This blanket, highly generalized recommendation is so deceitful. Yes, your chicken will be safe to eat. But no, your chicken won't necessarily taste good. What? Well, let me explain. Dark chicken meat cooked to the 'safe' 165F sucks. Ok, some may like it, but I feel like it's tough and tastes undercooked. It needs to get to at least 185F to become truly tender and succulent.

What about chicken breasts? It gets even more interesting. Chicken breast becomes dry when smoked to 165F. So, what's the solution? It's simple: cook it to a lower temperature. Is chicken meat cooked to less than 165F safe to eat? Absolutely! Wait, what? Let me explain. The 165F is the general recommendation to make sure everyone and their brother gets it right. It's the temperature at which all harmful bacteria are destroyed instantly.

However, the destruction of harmful bacteria is not just about the temperature, it's about the temperature and the time at which chicken meat spends at that temperature. For example, if you smoke your chicken breast to 155F and hold it at that temperature for a minute - the meat will be 100% safe to eat. But it will be much juicier, with a more tender, delicate texture compared to the one cooked to 165F.

What do you guys think?

Source: Taste of Artisan (May 2020) https://tasteofartisan.com/smoked-chicken-breast/
 
I agree on both sides. The dark meat needs to be around 175 ~ 185 for the texture. White meat can’t go above 160 and be juicy at least without a brine. If you look at Sous Vide guide lines you are correct about time and temperature. As soon as the center of a chicken reaches 165°F, 100% of Salmonella is killed immediately. At 160°F, it takes 14 seconds to kill the bacteria. At 155°F, it takes 50 seconds. Drop the temperature to 150°F, and the pathogen dies off in three minutes.
 
Use the pasteurization tables to cook foods and it's safe to eat..


Pasteurization Table chicken and turkey2.jpg
 
Totally agree ^^^^. I take the easy route though. A simple brine followed by a couple hour rest on a rack in the fridge and then off to the smoker or grill depending on what we are cooking that evening. Moisture level is always great in the breast after brining.
 
Here is my game plan for tonight's cook
  1. Wet brine since last night (apple juice, Kosher salt, onion, oregano, and red pepper flakes)
  2. Remove from brine and pat dry; let dry in refrigerator for 1-2 hours
  3. Pan sear in cast iron pan for 2 minutes
  4. Place on smoker at 225 until internal temp hits 135, then baste with bbq sauce
  5. Remove from smoker when internal temps hits 155
 
I'm with Matt on brining . Just makes for great results . I've taken brined breast to 175 . Still moist and tender .
All dark meat parts I take to 185 / 200 .
 
I am planning on smoking for about 2 hours at 225; should I be able to get the chicken to 155 in that time?
 
The devil's in the details. Are we talking whole chicken? Parted? Skin on or off? Bone-in, boneless, or deboned? Each requires a different temp and technique to be juicy and tender.

Brining any type of chicken in a salted water helps both white and dark meat by denaturing the protein. 12-48 hours is fine. You will notice a difference in the texture. 175°‐180°F internal temp works for both white and dark. High chamber temp to get crisp skin.

Brining in a salted acid (orange juice, water with ACV, etc) should last 2-4 hours, no longer. The acid will toughen the meat after that time by "cooking" it. When brined properly, there's more flavor. The temps and results are the same as above.

Skin on, parted, unbrined, bone-in chicken likes high temps to get crispy bite-through skin. When cooked together, they may finish at different times. I'll take the breasts to 155°-160°F, then rest loosely covered for 10 minutes. Dark meat goes to 175°-195°F and gets the same rest. Everything is smoked at high temps.

Skinless chicken, either bone-in or boneless, brined or not, gets the same treatment as above but the chamber temp can be lowered to 225°F with no problem.

Whole chicken, unbrined, is the real challenge. I use higher chamber temps and do my best to protect the breasts from heat absorption at the start of the smoke. Allowing the dark meat to absorb more heat than the breast helps the bird finish with the white and dark meat in their proper range. A double beer can holder with the breasts facing each other works. Spatchcocking a chicken and facing the breast away from the heat helps the bird finish with the correct temp spread. Starting with the bird breast down and flipping 3/4 of the way through is another process.

It all works for turkey, too. I've posted threads on it.

Cluck-cluck and gobble-on friends!

Ray
 
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The best success I've had with whole chicken is to brine it for 4-6 hours with salt & water and maybe a few other spices but no acids. Then let it sit on a rack in the fridge to dry for 4 hours. Stand it up with a chicken holder or even a simple beer or pop can on the grill AND use a smoke tube. You get the best of both, smoked chicken and crispy skin! Whole bird usually take a bit over 1 hour. Breast comes out very juicy and the dark meat is perfect.
 
Mine is a bit different:
I do all my dark meat (Drums & Thighs) in my Ninja.
One time by accident it got up to between 180° and 190° IT.
From that day forward I quit worrying about Dark Meat Chicken, and try to hold it to between 165° and 200°. Not a very difficult thing to accomplish!!

Bear
 
The chicken breasts came out great! I placed them on the smoker at 225 and they were done after 90 minutes. I sauced them for the last 10 minutes and took them off at an internal temp of 155. They were just perfect.

Thanks for everyone's input
 
The devil's in the details. Are we talking whole chicken? Parted? Skin on or off? Bone-in, boneless, or deboned? Each requires a different temp and technique to be juicy and tender.

Brining any type of chicken in a salted water helps both white and dark meat by denaturing the protein. 12-48 hours is fine. You will notice a difference in the texture. 175°‐180°F internal temp works for both white and dark. High chamber temp to get crisp skin.

Brining in a salted acid (orange juice, water with ACV, etc) should last 2-4 hours, no longer. The acid will toughen the meat after that time by "cooking" it. When brined properly, there's more flavor. The temps and results are the same as above.

Skin on, parted, unbrined, bone-in chicken likes high temps to get crispy bite-through skin. When cooked together, they may finish at different times. I'll take the breasts to 155°-160°F, then rest loosely covered for 10 minutes. Dark meat goes to 175°-195°F and gets the same rest. Everything is smoked at high temps.

Skinless chicken, either bone-in or boneless, brined or not, gets the same treatment as above but the chamber temp can be lowered to 225°F with no problem.

Whole chicken, unbrined, is the real challenge. I use higher chamber temps and do my best to protect the breasts from heat absorption at the start of the smoke. Allowing the dark meat to absorb more heat than the breast helps the bird finish with the white and dark meat in their proper range. A double beer can holder with the breasts facing each other works. Spatchcocking a chicken and facing the breast away from the heat helps the bird finish with the correct temp spread. Starting with the bird breast down and flipping 3/4 of the way through is another process.

It all works for turkey, too. I've posted threads on it.

Cluck-cluck and gobble-on friends!

Ray
"175°‐180°F internal temp works for both white and dark"

Sorry, but 175-180 will destroy white meat, i.e. chicken breasts., 155 is the ideal temp for white meat. I've been cooking at this temp for decades; just did a cook a few hours ago and once again, it came out amazing.

as for dark meat, I keep it at 165-170 range, and again, it always comes out perfect.
 
I'm with Matt on brining . Just makes for great results . I've taken brined breast to 175 . Still moist and tender .
All dark meat parts I take to 185 / 200 .
Yep! This ^^^^^!

But according to the pics...are you sure that's not tofu? :emoji_laughing: I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist... but you do know...no pics didn't happen. That just gave me the shivers lol

Ryan
 
175°‐180°F internal temp works for both white and dark"
That's when brined. White is much more forgiving when the proteins are denatured. Done it too many times to count.

Okay. Edit. In my brain I was thinking 175 white brined and 180 dark brined.

Like I said, the devil's in the details. Ooopsie.
 
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We all have our methods with chicken. I brine for 2 days using salt, brown sugar and/or honey, beer or hard cider, a variety of spices and lemon or orange juice., I then spatchcock, put a spice rub on and smoke at 225 to 250 breast side up and drumsticks closest to firebox. Once the IT hits 125 I flip the birds, slide the deflector plate back and heat up fire to 350 to 375 until IT hits 155 and I pull them and then let rest awhile. Moist white meat, crispy skin and tasty dark meet. I typically use apple or cherry wood.
chikin.jpg
 
When it comes to cooking chicken, getting the internal temperature right is super important for safety and taste. I usually aim for around 165°F (74°C) to make sure it's cooked through but still juicy. I haven't checked out https://expertchicken.com/ yet, but I bet they've got some good tips on cooking chicken to the perfect temperature. It's always helpful to have a reliable source for cooking advice. One thing I've learned is to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. It takes the guesswork out of it and ensures you don't undercook or overcook your chicken.
 
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I'm on Team 155. I prefer brined, but only remember to do it about half the time...
 
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