What is the Safe Temperature for Cooking Chicken

Learn about the safe temperature for cooking chicken to prevent foodborne illnesses. Check doneness with a food thermometer at 165°F (74°C).


Cooking chicken can be a delicious and healthy meal option, but it’s important to ensure that it’s cooked to a safe internal temperature to avoid foodborne illnesses. In this article, we will explore the safe temperature for cooking chicken, why it’s important, and how to properly check for doneness.

Why Temperature Matters

Cooking chicken to the right temperature is crucial because poultry can harbor harmful bacteria like salmonella and campylobacter. These bacteria can make you sick if the chicken is not cooked thoroughly. According to the USDA, cooking chicken to a safe internal temperature kills these bacteria and reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Safe Cooking Temperature

The safe internal temperature for cooking chicken is 165°F (74°C). This temperature should be measured using a food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken, such as the thigh or breast. Cooking chicken to 165°F ensures that any harmful bacteria are killed, making the chicken safe to eat.

Checking for Doneness

Visual cues alone are not enough to determine if chicken is fully cooked. The color of the meat can vary depending on factors like marinades and cooking methods, so it’s essential to use a food thermometer to check for doneness. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken without touching bone to get an accurate temperature reading.

Examples of Cooking Methods

  • Baking: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake chicken until it reaches 165°F (74°C) internally.
  • Grilling: Grill chicken over medium-high heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • Slow cooking: Cook chicken in a slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours until it reaches 165°F (74°C).

Case Studies

In a study conducted by the CDC, improper cooking of chicken was identified as a leading cause of foodborne illnesses. By cooking chicken to the recommended temperature of 165°F (74°C), the risk of illness can be significantly reduced.


According to the USDA, 1 in 4 cases of foodborne illnesses in the United States is caused by consuming undercooked poultry, including chicken. Cooking chicken to the safe temperature of 165°F (74°C) can help prevent these illnesses.

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