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Sep 8, 2008 11:08 AM

To Rinse or Not to Rinse...Chicken

When working with chicken, do you rinse it before prep? I can see arguments with both methods....How do you all feel?

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  1. I tend to rinse it off, because it usually sits in some of it's own blood/juice....but then again it gets rinsed off anyways because 90% of the time I am going to brine it.

    You should also dry it off a little too if you want to sear it off in say a hot pan to get a crust or perhaps to roast it in the oven. It's much easier to sear something and get a nice browned crust if it's dry

    1. " I can see arguments with both methods"

      So what's your argument against rinsing prior to prep? I am hard-pressed to think of an argument against cleaning and inspecting one's food.

      10 Replies
      1. re: FrankJBN

        Does a rinse in water actually do anything besides spread potential bacteria? If the rinse is intended to kill germs, shouldn't a mild bleach solution be used? I think alot depends on the cooking method too

        1. re: FrankJBN

          The USDA recommends against rinsing chicken or meat because it is of little use yet can cross contaminate your kitchen.

          1. re: C. Hamster

            I find this to be truer more often. The chicken is wet and chicken blood/water runs all over when I'm trying to cut it up. Maybe cut first then rinse??

            1. re: C. Hamster

              That's correct, do not rinse your chicken. Here's an extensive PDF to clarify...


              Be safe!

              1. re: goodegg333

                A show of hands please; How many folks here kill their own birds? I still couldnt find the part about don't rinse your bird. could you point it out please?

                1. re: jsummers

                  Well, if you skim more of this document you can see that it was pulled up on a search of the words "chicken" and "rinse" as those two words are highlighted throughout. The instructions do call for rinsing many other foods, but not chicken, so I suppose that can be taken as a recommendation not to. But it's hardly definitive.

                  1. re: jsummers

                    Back in my huntin' and killin' days, I always washed my dove and quail. I clean the fish I catch on the kitchen counter as I live in an apartment and don't have access to water outside, but I sterilize the counter afterwards and like to think it's cleaner than before I started. The same with chicken, I rinse it and clean well afterward. What about turkey? Is it not an overgrown chicken of sorts? Am I wrong, or don't the instructions say rinse thouroughly?

                2. re: C. Hamster

                  I never rinse either unless it is a bit smelly and hasn't been rinsed by the local producer. I buy locally produced chickens and they are minimally processed and some times they are a bit sticky and smell a bit funky. After a rinse they are fine. Then i have to sanitize my sink of course.

                3. re: FrankJBN

                  The arguement against rinsing is contaminating the kitchen with salmonella. I have never had a problem, nor do I know anyone who has had a problem, but for some reason it seems to be a hot topic.

                  1. re: FrankJBN

                    My understanding is that rinsing actually increases the risk of spreading things because the blood and juice can splatter as the water runs. I never rinse, but that's just me.

                  2. I rinse chicken - just they way I was brought up I guess. Also, I hate the feel and look of the juices it's been sitting in.

                    According to the USDA, there is no need or risk to rinsing. It all gets cooked anyway.

                    "Rinsing or Soaking Chicken
                    It is not necessary to wash raw chicken. Any bacteria which might be present are destroyed by cooking."


                    1. I always rinsed chicken, out of habit, mostly. Then got to thinking recently about cross-contamination, and all, and rationally I see no benefit. I have to say, though, Biscuitboy, when I clean up, everything gets doused with my 'sanitizing solution'. Capful of bleach in one of those industrial type spray bottles, then hot soapy water. Makes me feel better.

                      1. To me this is a no brainer. Rinse the chicken. If you're cookin it whole, rinse the whole chicken inside and out. If you're cutting it up, rinse the parts. Do a thorough job. Cross contamination? I'd be more worried about that from a contaminated bird. The rinse is not intended to "kill" bacteria as someone mentioned but to remove the muck left behind by an actively growing bacterial contamination, and believe me it's there. The issue ain't wether or not cooking is gonna kill the bacteria. The issue is the flavor of the finished product. Rinse the chicken.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jsummers

                          I always rinse. I seem to remember an old segment from the PBS Jacques & Julia series where he said he tends not to rinse his chickens as a holdover from France, but I can't remember his reasoning, possibly he alleged that he didn't want to lose any flavor and that bacteria would be killed during the cooking process.

                          1. re: jsummers

                            What's next? Steak rinsing? Rinsing is a waste of time- it does not kill bacteria and it just splashes the bacteria around the kitchen. As far as flavor goes, here's an article- in it's entirety, from Cooks Illustrated (aka America's Test Kitchens) :

                            Published August 15, 2004.

                            "Should I wash my chicken before cooking it?

                            The U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as food agencies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, advises against washing poultry. Rinsing chicken will not remove or kill much bacteria, and the splashing of water around the sink can spread the bacteria found in raw chicken. (Cooking poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit effectively destroys the most common culprits behind food-borne illness.)

                            To find out if rinsing had any impact on flavor, we roasted four chickens—two rinsed, two unrinsed—and held a blind tasting. Tasters' comments and preferences were all over the place, leading us to believe that differences in flavor had more to do with the chicken itself than with rinsing. Our conclusion? Skip the rinse. If you can't help yourself, avoid the shower in the sink and try just blotting the chicken with paper towels to remove excess liquid and keep cross-contamination to a minimum."

                            Now, if any of you still aren't convinced, here's somthing to ponder : Not all traditions are based on logic, or perhaps the logic is now outdated. Sometimes, even grandma was wrong. Now go cook!

                            1. re: ddferrari

                              I agree that some of the things our parents and grandparents told us turned out to be wrong, but how many times have you seen studies overturned by another study. Then again, if the Department of Agriculture says don't wash, it must be so. I don't think the government could possibly be wrong, do you? I'll continue to wash.