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Mar 7, 2011 05:21 AM

Roast chicken - what temp do you cook to?

Hi all,

I used the Thomas Keller recipe last night to roast two whole chickens. I'm always a bit insecure about knowing when something is done...I tend to overcook! So I googled a bit and it seemed as though cooking until the breast reached 170 degrees was plenty cooked.

So I did that, checking my instant read thermometer with boiling water before relying on it for accuracy. The juices from the breast were also clear. I let the chicken sit for about 20 minutes before carving

So the chicken came out moist and very flavorful but while cutting it the juices from the bird were definitely tinged with red especially in the dark meat region. Again, I googled and there was much chatter and discourse on whether or not that was an indication that the chicken was not adequately cooked.

So, I turn to the do you determine if your roast chicken is done and what are your thoughts on pink on the plate?


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  1. Breast meat/white meat will always cook faster than dark so I would check the temp of the legs and thighs to get a more accurate reading.As soon as the dark meat reaches 165 deg,take the bird out and let it rest for 15 to 20 mins.Also try to baste the bird with the pan juices,especially the breasts.
    Pink on the plate can be a turn off for most if not all people.

    1. I use a meat thermometer that you put the probe into the meat and leave the display on the counter. The metal or silicone cord runs out your closed oven door. If you put the probe in the thickest part of the meat you should be able to cook it perfectly every time.

      The best part about these thermometers is that since the wire runs between the oven frame and the door you can keep the oven closed at all times which will give you a faster and more even cooking time because you won't be constantly opening the oven door to check the temperature. As for temperatures, my thermometer has chicken, beef(rare, medium, well) and pork settings.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Kooper


        What brand is your thermometer? I did some investigative work around Xmas as I was interested in getting one but found a lot of mixed reviews for pretty much all brands.


        1. re: Kooper

          I try to do the same, but maybe I'm not good at locating the deepest point in the dark meat because the thermometer will say 165, but after I let it rest and slice it I still get red juices at the joints and end up putting the half-carved bird back in the oven. I wish I had a better system.

        2. We never cook anything to a temperature, but to time per kilo. Within a few minutes each way, it works and, of course, you know when dinner's going to be ready. The resting time takes up any slack in the process.

          Chicken is cooked when we stick a skewer into the thigh and the juices run clear.

          1. I always roast my chicken breast side down and when the leg and thigh can be wiggled easily and the skin over them is good and crispy, that's it. Temp usually shows 160' ish.
            I've never had red or pink juices doing it this way. And the breast is nice and moist.

            1. I do 165 if it's in a hot oven, but I stab it in several places before taking it out. If you have the time to spare, another thing you might try is turning the oven way down and cooking it for some extra time. At low temperatures, you don't get as much steam, and you can get the bird to a higher temperature without drying it out.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jvanderh

                Google Heston Blumenthal's "the best roast chicken in the world".

                1. re: petek

                  Holy cow.

                  I'd be willing to brine it, let it dry, cook it in a hot oven for long enough to kill the bacteria on the outside and then turn it down, and brown the skin in a pan, if the high heat didn't take care of it. I'm not sure I can bring myself to change the water every 15 minutes for an hour-- and besides, I've never had a roast chicken that was too salty. Any my oven doesn't go that low either.

                  1. re: jvanderh

                    I know,it's pretty crazy right? Most of his "best in the world" recipes are 5 to 10 steps over a couple of days.He even says himself that he doesn't expect everyone to follow the recipes exactly,but to take a few parts or techniques from each one.
                    I've used his method to clarify stock and it was spot on.