How to Use a Meat Thermometer in Chicken to Get Accurate Temperatures


The best way to ensure that your chicken is neither undercooked nor overcooked is by the use of a meat thermometer.

Meat thermometers have been designed to accurately observe the internal temperature of meats, such as chicken, in order to ensure that they are cooked to the perfect temperature.

Meat Thermometer Inserted in A Chicken

Undercooked chicken can cause many foodborne illnesses, whereas overcooked chicken can become too tough and dry to be enjoyed.

Therefore, most recipes tell you which internal temperature ensures that the chicken is completely cooked.

These temperatures can be read of a temperature, and we’re here to tell you how to use a meat thermometer in chicken!

How to Use a Meat Thermometer in Chicken: A Step-by-Step Guide

To help you understand the correct placement of a meat thermometer in your chicken part, we compiled a guide for you.

Step 1: Take a meat thermometer and make sure that it is accurate and easy to operate and read.

Meat Thermometer by WAVELANE

Our favorite recommendation for a meat thermometer is by WAVELANE. 

This meat thermometer offers very accurate readings that are rather easy to read from the digital read-out.

The thermometer has a smart design for its use and is also portable. It is waterproof and the durability it offers is worth the price it comes in.

It is also a user-friendly product and can be easily operated without any trouble.

Step 2: Place it inside the thickest portion of your chicken, away from any bones.

For instance, you can simply place it at any thick portion in ground chicken. But for a whole chicken, it needs to go between the inner thigh area and breast, but should not touch the bone

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Step 3: Keep it inside for just 10 seconds and take the reading.

You can keep inserting the thermometer inside the chicken portion as long as the temperature keeps rising. As long as it drops, take the previous reading as your final temperature.

It should always be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Part of ChickenPlacement of ThermometerMinimum Internal Temperature
Whole ChickenInner thigh area (near breasts but not touching bone)165 Degrees Fahrenheit
Ground ChickenCenter of the thickest part165 Degrees Fahrenheit
Breast PieceCenter of the thickest part (not touching bone)165 Degrees Fahrenheit
Roast PieceCenter of the thickest part (not touching bone)165 Degrees Fahrenheit
Legs or ThighsCenter of the thickest part (not touching bone)165 Degrees Fahrenheit
WingsCenter of the thickest part (not touching bone)165 Degrees Fahrenheit

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Where Do You Put a Meat Thermometer in a Whole Chicken?

The best placement of a meat thermometer is into the thickest portion of the chicken being cooked.

This section should also not have much fat and bones. That way it can give the most accurate readings for the innermost portion of the chicken. This portion will also tend to have the lowest comparative temperature reading.

Most thermometers are to be inserted ½ an inch into the thick section of the chicken. However, if that section is thicker than 1 inch, then going farther than ½ an inch would be a smart choice.

One way to ensure that you are observing the right temperature is by going a little deeper than ½ an inch. As soon as you see that the temperature is rising instead of dropping, you have gone too far and should take the last reading as the accurate one.

How Long Do You Leave a Meat Thermometer in Chicken?

You need to keep the meat thermometer inside the thickest portion of your chicken for about 10 seconds only.

Most of the meat thermometers that are being used today are digital and very accurate.

They also give out their observations really quickly.

Therefore, you don’t have to place it inside the chicken for too long.

What Should the Meat Thermometer Read for Chicken?

Your meat thermometer should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit for the chicken to be fully cooked.

However, it’s important to remember that this is a general rule where 165 degrees Fahrenheit represents chicken that is not undercooked or overcooked.

For more accurate readings, it is essential that you check with the recipe you are using to cook the chicken.

This is because the temperature is also affected by different cooking methods, use of different sauces and marinade, and even the part of chicken being used!

How to Tell if Chicken is Cooked Without a Meat Thermometer?

There are different ways through which you can check whether your chicken is fully cooked without the use of a meat thermometer.

The most common of these methods include piercing through the chicken and checking its water.

As soon as the water runs clear and the chicken is also easy to slice through, it is cooked enough.

If the water is pink with a little blood in it, then the chicken is undercooked. If it is clear but the chicken is hard to pierce through, then it has been overcooked.

However, we highly recommend that you use a meat thermometer to cook chicken because internal temperature of meat matters a lot in cooking chicken the right way.

Wrapping it Up

Like any other food, chicken can be cooked perfectly without making use of a meat thermometer.

However, it takes a lot of practice to perfect your ways and achieve a perfectly delicious chicken dish without the help of a meat thermometer.

Therefore, we highly recommend that instead of taking a risk, you get yourself a meat thermometer to get your chicken flavorful and juicy, just how you would prefer.

Happy cooking!

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Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.