HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Best way to tell if roast chicken is done?

  • 9

I'm about to roast my first chicken, using Marcella's chicken w/ two lemons recipe. I'm fairly confident except for one thing: I have heard so much disparate advice on how to tell when the damn thing is done. So, hounds, please tell me: what's the single easiest, idiot-proof way to tell when your chicken is done?

Wiggle the leg? Look at the juices? When the leg reaches 160? (or 163, or 170, or 175?) Should I use an instant read thermometer, or perhaps a digital probe (which I have)? Where, exactly should I insert it? I know, the "thickest part of the thigh," but a picture would be helpful.

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It is not the leg but the thickest part of the thigh. I'd be going for 150 and pulling it out to let it rest UNTENTED, the temp will rise as it stands. Don't truss and yes the lego or wings should move easily when it is done...but!...if over cooked they will move easily too so watch that temp. Use your probe.

    1. If the leg wiggles, your chicken is overdone. I've found my various instant-read thermometers to be rather unreliable with fowl (it's impossible to tell if the tip is near the bone, or in a pocket of hot fat). Poke the breast with your finger. If the feel is firm, your chicken is probably done. Stick the tip of a small knife into the thigh and if the juice runs clear, it definitely is done. Remember, the bird will continue to cook as it rests before carving.

      1. untented? even if just with a kitchen towel? i agree that tenting with foil is NOT good... but everything i've learned has told me to rest with a towel or some other semi-permeable cover. just curious what the rationale is. (not being combative, i promise...)

        1. tenting cooked meat with foil is fine. Just put a flat piece of foil on top of meat; don't wrap or tuck around meat.
          What you want to avoid is steaming the meat. Putting a top on it is fine, and a fine way to keep warm.

          1. You roasted the perfect chicken and the skin is all crispy and delicious. If you tent it, it is going to get soggy from steam. I don't tent any meat with anything.

            1 Reply
            1. I found a good picture of where to put the thermometer on the internet:

              I usually use my digital thermometer and leave it in while the chicken cooks (it has a cord that comes out of the oven and plugs into the little digital screen). I get our chicken to 160 and then let it rest, but I'm always worried about it not being done. 150 might be better, but ours never tastes too overcooked to me. I might experiment with 150 next time.

              1. I usually test it by piercing the area between the leg and thigh and if the liquid runs clear, then it's done!

                But for modern ways, the digital thermometer is the best bet, especially the advice to take it out 10 degrees before the preferred temperature and let it rest to rise to that level. Poking it in the thickest area is the best.

                1 Reply
                1. re: singleguychef

                  Exactly... I use the probe Thermometer... it helps me have a reminder because sometimes I get distracted and loose track of time...


                2. How big? If it's 3-4 lbs I usually sear it all over in a pan and just roast the thing at about 375 for and hour.