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8 Ways You’ve Been Cooking Chicken Wrong (Slideshow)

8 Ways You’ve Been Cooking Chicken Wrong (Slideshow)

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Don’t fowl up your dinner with these common cooking mistakes

When you’re grocery shopping, it’s important to separate the ingredients in your cart. Even packages of raw chicken that are well-sealed should not be allowed to touch other items in your shopping cart, especially those that will be eaten raw; keep poultry and produce confined to separate areas of your shopping cart to help prevent food-borne illness.

In the Shopping Cart

When you’re grocery shopping, it’s important to separate the ingredients in your cart. Even packages of raw chicken that are well-sealed should not be allowed to touch other items in your shopping cart, especially those that will be eaten raw; keep poultry and produce confined to separate areas of your shopping cart to help prevent food-borne illness.

Thawing Chicken

According to the USDA, there are three safe ways to thaw frozen chicken: plan ahead and thaw frozen chicken in your refrigerator, place the chicken in a sealed, leak-proof plastic bag and thaw it in cold water (changed every 30 minutes), or thaw the chicken in your microwave immediately before cooking it.


Rinsing your chicken before cooking it doesn’t kill germs; it actually spreads them. Don’t rinse your chicken in the sink and, if you have been, be sure to sanitize your sink to prevent food-borne illness.

Uneven Cooking

If you’re cooking boneless chicken breast, be sure to pound it to a uniform thickness; just place the chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and hit it with a rolling pin. Pounding the chicken will prevent the naturally thinner end of the breast from overcooking and drying out while the thicker end continues to cook through.

Crowding the Pot or Pan

Whether you’re frying or sautéing chicken, it’s important to cook only a few pieces at a time. If you fry too many pieces of chicken at once the temperature of the oil will drop and you won’t get a crispy crust.


Chicken is done cooking when the juices run clear. That means that when it’s cut open, the juices are no longer pink. If you’re unsure how to determine doneness, use a meat thermometer. Chicken should be cooked until the center reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking chicken past that temperature dries it out.


Like other types of cooked meats, chicken benefits from resting a few minutes before being cut. If you’ve roasted a whole bird, be sure to let it sit for a few minutes before carving it; the chicken will be juicier.

Paper towels

If you’re frying chicken, don’t drain the finished chicken on a paper towel — this creates steam and can make your chicken soggy. Instead, drain the excess oil from your chicken by placing it on a wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet.

8 Ways You're Cooking Chicken Wrong

Mistake 1: Washing your chicken

Rinsing your chicken is completely unnecessary, especially when cooking a whole bird. You are most likely spraying water loaded with bacteria all over your kitchen counter near your sink where it will sit and multiply. Rather, wash all the surfaces, plates and hands after you have processed the raw chicken.

Mistake 2: Defrosting it on the counter or in the microwave

These methods will encourage bacteria to grow. Poultry shouldn't be sitting in temperature that is considered to be within the 'danger zone'. Bacteria will grow rapidly in temperatures of 40 to 140 degrees, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. Placing chicken in the microwave is simply encouraging bacteria growth. Best and safest method would be to thaw it in the fridge a day before cooking it. Once thawed, it shouldn't be re-freezed.

Mistake 3: Not patting it dry before cooking

Whether you are searing, roasting or grilling your chicken, you should always pat it dry with a paper towel. This prevents the chicken from steaming while cooking. If it's not dry it will release more moisture throughout the cooking process. This will create a crispier, tastier chicken with the right amount of moisture.

Mistake 4: Using a timer to determine when it's done

Rather than using a timer, grab a thermometer. Chicken tends to vary in size and shape so there is no set time for it to cook. To ensure that you chicken is safely cooked, a piece of boneless chicken breast is safely cooked at 165 to 170 degrees internal. Bone-in chicken should be cooked at least to 180 to 185 degrees internally. This ensures that the bone marrow is cooked through preventing an undercooked appearance. Anything below these temperatures will result in an undercooked meal.

Mistake 5: Cutting into it to see if it's done

Understandably, most people cut into the chicken to see if it is done. However, cutting into the chicken allows the juices to run out leaving you with a dry piece of chicken as opposed to a dish that is moist and flavorful. Rather, invest in a meat thermometer.

Mistake 6: Storing it anywhere it can fit in the fridge

Chicken should be stored on the lowest shelf possible because cold air sinks and is, therefore, the safest place for storage. Storing it properly will help prevent cross-contamination and the growth of bacteria. You'll want to make sure it's wrapped up tightly to avoid any drips of thawing byproduct.

Mistake 7: Only cooking chicken breast

When trying to stay healthy, most people resort to chicken breast. But, eating other parts of the chicken can be healthy too. Dark meat chicken is still lean and if it's not deep-fried it stays moist. It also contains more iron and zinc than white chicken meat.

Mistake 8: Not testing the pan before searing

To get a good sear, you need to pre-heat your pan. To check if it is heated enough, sprinkle the surface with some water. If it sizzles and evaporates immediately then it is hot enough for searing. This is especially important if cooking breasts or thighs with the skin. The skin will never become golden brown or crispy without starting a hot pan.

15 Foods you’ve been cooking all wrong

You’ve probably been cooking these foods all wrong &mdash and today, it needs to stop. Friends don’t let friends eat crunchy rice.

We don’t want you to suffer through chewy eggplant ever again. Use these tips and your kitchen will be fail-proof and flavor-filled.

The food: Scrambled eggs

What you’re doing wrong: A lot! You’re adding liquids, not whisking enough, cooking on high heat and overcooking.

Do this instead: To get perfect scrambled eggs, let air in by beating the eggs with a whisk just before you scramble. Also, you don’t have to add milk or water. We know you’ve been doing this your whole life, but you’ve probably had wet eggs your whole life, too. Scramble the eggs over low heat to avoid overcooking, and be sure to stir. Get the full rundown on how to make fluffy scrambled eggs here.

Bonus egg tip: For perfectly peeled hard-boiled eggs, add one teaspoon of baking soda to the boiling water. This helps release the shell from the egg, creating an effortlessly easy removal.

The food: Dry beans

What you’re doing wrong: Rushing

Do this instead: If you’re a lover of canned beans but you want to master the dry-to-cooked method, you’re going to have to be patient. Soak the beans overnight for at least 12 hours and rinse and drain them several times in the morning. Add salt and other seasonings only once the beans are cooked all the way through. Make sure to keep beans cooking at a simmer so they cook evenly. The cooking time will depend on the bean variety. If you like your beans soupy, add a pinch of baking soda to the water when you start cooking. Another must: Make sure you’re using fresh dried beans, and throw away the ones you’ve been storing in the pantry for the last five years. Try these slow cooker refried beans using dry pintos.

The food: Homemade hash browns

What you’re doing wrong: Leaving them wet and cooking on a skillet

Do this instead: To make crispy hash browns, squeeze the shredded potatoes to get rid of excess liquid. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Take a baking sheet and cover it lightly with your choice of oil, spread the shredded potatoes in a thin layer and top with a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook to your desired crispness, for about 15 minutes. Get your fill of crispy potatoes with this quiche with hash brown crust.

The food: Eggplant

What you’re doing wrong: Cooking it like every other vegetable

Do this instead: Eggplant needs special treatment. The most important steps are making sure to salt your cubed or sliced eggplant and then leaving it in a colander to drain. This pulls out excess moisture and creates a palatable texture. After 30 minutes, rinse the salt off, pat the eggplant dry and roast, saute or bake it &mdash cook it in whatever way you love. Voilà! No more chewy eggplant. Making these oven-baked eggplant fries is a perfect way to introduce eggplant to picky eaters.

The food: Caramelized onions

What you’re doing wrong: Crowding the pan, rushing and, therefore, burning

Do this instead: Use a large pan and keep your heat on medium. Do not be tempted to speed up this process by using high heat. You will only guarantee one thing: burned onions. Scrape all that gorgeous brown buildup off the bottom of the pan and incorporate it back into the onions. And just be patient &mdash depending on how many onions you’re caramelizing, this could take up to an hour. Making these decadent smothered cheese fries is a great way to use those amazingly flavorful onions.

The food: Frozen vegetables

What you’re doing wrong: Microwaving on high and getting soggy, limp veggies

Do this instead: For crispy, fresh and perfectly cooked frozen vegetables every time, skip the microwave and use a steamer. It takes only a few minutes longer, and you’ll seal in the freshness (and flavor) without adding any fats. We used frozen veggies in this hearty couscous and vegetable soup.

The food: Fresh herbs

What you’re doing wrong: Not using enough and adding them at the wrong time

Do this instead: Dried herbs are fine, but there’s nothing quite like fresh. Since dried herbs are more potent, you’ll need more of the fresh stuff when you substitute it in a recipe. Generally, you’ll need three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry. When adding fresh herbs to your dishes, heartier herbs like rosemary can handle a longer cooking time, but more delicate herbs like basil and cilantro are typically added at the end. Try this recipe for hearty vegetable and fresh herb dumplings.

The food: Chicken

What you’re doing wrong: Overcooking and underseasoning

Do this instead: The only thing that’s worse than salmonella is dry, overcooked chicken. Pay attention to your meat by investing in a meat thermometer or measuring doneness by touch. This guide is super-handy, whether you’re cooking chicken or any other meat, and once you know your meat temps, you’ll never go back. As far as flavor goes, the biggest thing is this: Don’t forget it! Add salt, pepper or oregano, or soak beforehand in one of these easy and delicious flavor-packed marinades.

The food: Fresh mushrooms

What you’re doing wrong: Crowding the pan and getting slimy ‘shrooms &mdash yuck!

Do this instead: Take a tip from the master, Julia Child, on this one. Her method produces beautifully browned mushrooms every time. Heat a pan on high with some butter and oil. When it’s good and hot, add the mushrooms in a single layer. Let them cook, stirring and shaking the pan so they absorb the oil. Then sear to perfection, giving you slightly chewy but never slimy or rubbery mushrooms. Making mushroom bruschetta on crunchy cheese toast is a delicious way to showcase your seared ‘shrooms.

The food: Baked goods

What you’re doing wrong: Overmixing the batter and using cold ingredients

Do this instead: Whisk those wet ingredients all you want, but as soon as you add the flour, dial it back. You want to just incorporate the flour or risk getting tough baked goods. Don’t be tempted to eschew the room-temperature ingredient recommendations. Cold ingredients won’t blend as well into your batter.

Bonus cupcake tips: Don’t overfill the liners &mdash they will rise! Reduce the baking temperature to 325 degrees F halfway through for extra-fluffy batter. Wait until they cool completely before frosting. Show off your baking chops with this lemon loaf cake.

The food: Roasted veggies

What you’re doing wrong: Pretty much everything

Do this instead: For an even cook, chop heartier vegetables (like potatoes and carrots) into smaller pieces while leaving less-dense vegetables (like broccoli) in larger chunks. If you really want “roasted” vegetables, your oven should be set at no less than 500 degrees F. Make sure to coat your vegetables thoroughly in an oil with a high smoke point, like safflower. Lastly, if you’ve been cooking vegetables in a glass pan, move away! A baking sheet does a much better job of producing that delicious brown sear that makes roasted vegetables so tasty. Just be sure to keep the vegetables in a single layer to avoid steaming them. When you’re done, use those roasted veggies in meatless tacos.

The food: Pasta

What you’re doing wrong: Throwing away the water and putting sauce on top

Do this instead: You should already know that you should be salting, not oiling, your pasta water. But after you take the pasta out, you should also save half a cup of the starchy water and mix it into your sauce, followed by the pasta. This helps the sauce cling to and seep into the pasta, meaning that the whole dish will be coated deliciously. Try this cheesy lobster spaghetti for a showstopping meal.

The food: Crispy sweet potato oven fries

What you’re doing wrong: Cooking them like normal potatoes

Do this instead: Make sure your fry sizes are consistent, and after you slice them, toss them in a little bit of corn starch and spices. Try black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, paprika or chili powder &mdash the possibilities are endless! This makes the fries bake up to crispy perfection, and it adds an extra flavor. We love these coconut sweet potato fries with tahini dip.

The food: Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley and farro

What you’re doing wrong: Measuring the water incorrectly and removing the lid

Do this instead: With all these grains in our kitchen, it’s hard to remember how to cook each one. It’s not always a 1-to-2 ratio. For 1 cup of brown rice and farro, use 2-1/2 cups of water. For 1 cup of barley, use 3 cups of water. For 1 cup of quinoa, use 2 cups of water. Combine the grains and water, bring the mixture to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. And remember, no peeking! Use this guide to cooking times and test your new grain knowledge with this quinoa veggie “fried” rice.

The food: Low-fat ground meats like turkey, goat and buffalo

What you’re doing wrong: Using high heat, overcooking and draining the fat

Do this instead: Cooking lean meat is different from throwing that pound of fattier beef in a hot pan. Use a lower temperature for lower-fat meats. The name of the game is low and slow. And while it goes against everything we know, don’t drain the small amount of fat out of the pan after cooking. This helps keep your meat tender and moist. Try this easy Asian turkey skillet for a lower-fat version of a stir-fry.

What’s the difference between boneless, skinless chicken breasts and bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts?

All chicken breasts aren’t created equal. How long you cook your chicken breast in the oven depends largely on its weight and whether it’s boneless, skinless or bone-in, skin-on. While the two types of chicken breasts are neighbors in the meat case, they couldn’t be further apart in flavor and appearance. Bone-in, skin-on might feel more intimidating to cook, but the fat rendered from the skin and the intact bones generally make for juicier, tastier baked chicken breast. Read on for how long to bake each variety to achieve the best results possible.

Mistake: You don't know when raw chicken has gone bad.


There are three easy ways you can check to see if your raw chicken has peaked far past its prime, according to Claudia Sidoti, chef, food industry leader, and member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board who's opening a restaurant in upstate New York this summer. First, Sidoti advises looking for a change in color. "Fresh, raw chicken should have a pink, fleshy color. As it starts to go bad, the color fades to a shade of grey," Sidoti previously told Eat This, Not That.

Second, Sidoti says to trust your nose. "Raw chicken that has gone bad has a very potent odor. Sometimes it can be described as a sour smell. If the chicken has taken on an odor of any sort, it's safest to toss it," she says.

And if you're thinking of pairing some vegetables with your bird, be sure to avoid these 8 Common Mistakes You're Making When Cooking Veggies.

8 Ways You Can Make Orange + Chicken Recipes!

Who knew oranges and chicken would be a delicious pairing?

Orange Chicken is a famous Panda Express dish. The combination of the sweet, tart, and tropical flavor of oranges and savory chicken was inspired by the cuisine of the Hunan Province in China, an area known for its rice, tea, and oranges.

It's easy to understand why Filipinos and our famous sweet tooth would love this combination, too!

Who knew oranges and chicken would be such a delicious food pairing? If you love this mix of flavors as well, you should try making it at home! Try these orange chicken recipes today:

Not brining it

Okay, first reaction — gross, right? Nothing attractive has ever come out of brine. Don't swear it off just yet, though, because brining your chicken before you cook it can be a crucial part of the whole process. It adds flavor, keeps the meat juicy, and even reduces the risk of overcooking.

There are a few ways to do this. The wet brine is basically a solution of salt, sugar, water, herbs, spices and aromatics, which you then bring to a boil and stir to allow those flavors to really stew together. After that, you let the whole thing become cold (don't want those bacteria joining the party) and then submerge the pre-cooked bird or cuts, leaving them to brine for up to two days in the refrigerator. Dry brining is a similar technique in which the salt, sugar and seasonings are rubbed straight onto the meat, allowing for a quicker turnaround since they'll soak in after just a few hours. Whichever method you choose, the chicken that ends up on your plate is guaranteed to be far tastier and more exciting than anything you've made before.

21. Healthy Creamy Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Ranch

Do you have a sweet tooth? I do too!

Then these stuffed sweet potatoes will definitely be up your alley. The sweet potatoes&rsquo sweetness pairs nicely with the heat of the Buffalo Chicken and the ranch dressing&rsquos coolness.

And sweet potatoes are good for you too. They contain tons of immune-boosting Vitamins A and C.

They&rsquore even rich in manganese which is essential for healthy bones. And they&rsquore rich in antioxidants too.