Before You Cook Chicken
- Refrigerate raw chicken promptly. Never leave it on countertop at room temperature.
- Packaged fresh chicken may be refrigerated in original wrappings in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
- Freeze uncooked chicken if it is not to be used within 2 days.
- If properly packaged, frozen chicken will maintain top quality in a home freezer for up to 1 year.
- Thaw chicken in the refrigerator — not on the countertop — or in cold water. It takes about 24 hours to thaw a 4-pound chicken in the refrigerator. Cut-up parts, 3 to 9 hours.
- Chicken may be safely thawed in cold water. Place chicken in its original wrap or water-tight plastic bag in cold water. Change water often. It takes about 2 hours to thaw a whole chicken.
- For quick thawing of raw or cooked chicken use the microwave. Thawing time will vary.
- Always wash hands, countertops, cutting boards, knives and other utensils used in preparing raw chicken with soapy water before they come in contact with other raw or cooked foods.
While You're Cooking Chicken
- If chicken is stuffed, remove stuffing to a separate container before refrigerating.
- When barbecuing chicken outdoors, keep refrigerated until ready to cook. Do not place cooked chicken on same plate used to transport raw chicken to grill.
- Always cook chicken well done, not medium or rare. If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should reach 165ºF.
- To check visually for doneness, pierce chicken with fork; juices should run clear — not pink — when fork is inserted with ease.
- Marinade in which raw chicken has been soaking should never be used on cooked chicken.
After You Cook Chicken
- Cooked, cut-up chicken is at its best refrigerated for no longer than 2 days — whole cooked chicken, an additional day.
- If leftovers are to be reheated, cover to retain moisture and to ensure that chicken is heated all the way through. Bring gravies to a rolling boil before serving.
- If you're transporting cooked chicken, put it in an insulated container or ice chest until ready to eat. Keep below 40ºF or above 140ºF.
Information from the National Chicken Council