How do you cook chicken & keep it moist? Signed, fatfingers.



baystate April 23, 2012
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Esther P. April 23, 2012
If you're just doing pieces for yourself, and you just want something that'll get you fed, then put your bone in skin on thighs and drumsticks on a piece of foil, pour some favourite sauce over (BBQ, garlic and herb, whatever) and then scrunch the foil up so it's tightly sealed. Shove in the oven at 180c gas mark 4 for about 30 mins. If you want the skin crispy, undo the foil towards the end of the time - say the last 5 mins. It's cooked when there's no bloody juices coming forth when you stab at it with something sharp. It'll marinade and cook in the "papillote" and best of all there's no washing a pan, as you just toss the foil. (I know its not especially green, but it gets the job done!)
the R. April 21, 2012
When I brine my chicken I always use Kosher salt as the grains are larger and don't need to use as much salt. If you don't have kosher, reduce the amount of table salt by a quarter. Also, brine chicken will cook quicker, so don't overcook, remember the chicken will continue to cook while it is resting.
SKK April 20, 2012
This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated and is our absolute favorite because it uses the whole chicken and you can make incredible chicken stock out of the drippings. And it is foolproof and tender. No need to brine.
Cooking times in the recipe are for a 4 ½ to 5 pound bird. A 3 ½ - 4 ½ pound chicken will take about an hour to cook, and a 5 – 6 pound bird will take close to 2 hours. This recipe is developed to work with a 5 – 8 quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. And always use organic.

1 Whole Roasting Chicken
2 tsps kosher salt or 1 tsp table salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion chopped medium, about ½ cup
1 small stalked celery, chopped medium, about ¼ cup
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
2 bay leaves

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 F.
2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper
3. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking
4. Add chicken breast-side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic bay leaf around the bird
5. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
6. Flip chicken breast-side up and cook another 5 – 8 minutes
7. Remove Dutch Oven from heat and place a large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid.
8. Transfer pot to oven and cook until your brand new thermometer everyone recommends you get reads 160 F when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 F in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.

Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil and let it rest 20 minutes.
Meanwhile strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh separator pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about ¾ cup juices). Heat up the juices and you will have a fine sauce.

ChefOno April 20, 2012

If you're going to make that dish, you have to learn how to say "Poule au Pot" with a French accent. Don't expect a nice, brown, roasty bird but it will be one of the best chickens you've ever eaten.

Voted the Best Reply!

Sam1148 April 20, 2012
I see all the roasting techniques and suggestions have been covered.

Poaching chicken can also results in dry flavorless chicken. I use the Chinese method for that and it gets every bit of use out of a bird.

Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the bird. Remove the bird, add salt, peppercorn and aromatics (celery, onions, carrots). Bring to a boil, add the bird and bring back to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Wait one hour. This is where people get skeptical but it works perfectly.
Remove the bird and go at it with your hands to remove all the meat. While your at it simmer the water to reduce a bit (I sometimes toss about 1/3 of it tho).
Store the shredded meat in containers with a bit of poaching liquid. Having some containers with just white meat for use in chicken salads.

Add back the bones and more aromatics and simmer to make a broth to freeze and store for later use.

Use the meat for chicken salads, taco fillings, salad additions, omelets, sandwiches, quick additions to soups, thai noodle dishes, etc.

The resulting stock is more a light broth than a rich stock because of the large quantity of water used to cook the bird. This is a good time to look in the freezer to see if you've been storing necks and back bones and bones from roasted chicken to add to the stock along with those limp carrots and celery in the 'fridge that you really didn't want to toss.
creamtea April 20, 2012
For a whole chicken, I try to remember first to sprinkle with salt. I preheat the oven to around 375 or 400. I tie the leg tips together with cooking twine. I use a longer piece of twine to tie around the whole top to hold the wings close to the body. Put it on a roasting rack breast-side down in a roasting pan. Add an inch or so of water to the bottom. I then put it in the hot oven for about half an hour. Pull out, flip it (I wear rubber gloves or use kitchen tongs). Return to oven. I roast until about 165º, using an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part(s): thigh or breast. Juices should run clear from the hole just poked with the thermometer. I jiggle the legs. If they are tight, not cooked enough. I also lift the chicken with tongs and let the juices from the cavity run into the pan. If they look pink or red, I roast longer. Although in my head I set aside up to an hour and a half for the project, it likely WILL NOT take that long--I start testing after maybe an hour. Good cooking smells tell me when to start testing. Sorry, can't be more specific, but that comes with practice.

Cut up pieces take less time. I mentally set aside an hour, but start to check after maybe half an hour or so.
ChefOno April 20, 2012

Brining guidelines:

Chicken, bone in, skin on, whole or pieces: 4 cups water, 1/4 cup table salt, 1/4 cup sugar Time = 60 min.


4 cups water, 2 Tbs. table salt, 2 Tbs. sugar Time = 6 hrs.

Chicken, boneless, skinless: 2 cups water, 1 Tbs. table salt, 1 Tbs. sugar Time = 60 min.

ChefOno April 20, 2012

Absolutely start a roast chicken breast-side down. My technique calls for 30 min. "upside down" (if you think about it, it's actually right-side up, at least from the bird's point of view).

Home cooks often object to the process of flipping a hot bird, especially a heavy turkey. There are a number of solutions to the problem. For a chicken, you can insert your knife steel up its butt and rotate the bird around its axis. I own a pair of heavy blue vinyl gloves with long gauntlets, purchased at a hardware store, that provide just enough insulation to flip a turkey and keep me from burning my arms.

Also, learn to truss a bird. The 60 seconds it takes help chickens cook more evenly.

Reiney April 20, 2012
All good points, above. I'll add a slightly unorthodox option to try for a whole roast chicken:

Cook it upside-down.

The breast meat dries up because it cooks faster than the thighs/legs. By cooking it breast-side down the juices are running through the breast before dripping onto the tray, keeping the meat moist. Flip it around to crisp up the skin for the last 20 minutes or so of cooking.

(I do this in addition to brining, basting etc. Works extremely well for turkey too.)
sexyLAMBCHOPx April 20, 2012
When I started to teach myself to cook chicken (wgich I love), I use to take skinless, bonless breasts and shmear with hellmans mayo and bake in oven, 350 until no longer pink inside, flipping once.
Sam1148 April 20, 2012
Try that with plain yogurt, garlic, oregano, thyme, tarragon, allspice, lemon zest. Let it soak about an hour or more..roll in bread crumbs and bake.

A variation would be a curry powder in the yogurt---or better a prepared curry paste like Patak brand curry paste or Tandori paste.
ChefOno April 20, 2012

Okay, NewCookHungryGuy. As several people have touched on above, there are two keys to tender, moist, and safe chicken.

The first is temperature. Your number one priority should be to purchase a digital thermometer. If you can afford it, the Thermapen would be my number one choice. $90 but well worth it in the long run. If that seems too much, and no big deal if it does, the Taylor 9842, runs around $11. But buy *something*.

I can't stress this enough: Overcook and you know the results. Undercook and you could easily wind up in the hospital with "stomach flu". There is no such thing as stomach flu. It's food poisoning. And a bad case will kill you. Nobody can pinpoint the ideal temperature by look, smell or feel. Nobody.

The second key is brining. Brining (a salt water solution) drives moisture into the flesh. It will also help protect the bird if you accidently overcook it. But you can easily go too far and end up with overly salty meat. So stick with tested times and ratios of salt to liquid. You can add flavor (garlic, herbs, lemon or other combinations) at the same time but that's entirely optional.

Third thing (yes I know I said there were two keys but this is important too but there are exceptions we can discuss later): Leave the skin on and the bones in. Both will help protect the flesh from damage and moisture loss and add flavor. If you want to throw away valuable nutrition and a ton of flavor, do so after cooking.

There may be as many techniques as there are cooks. How would you like to start? Roasted bone-in chicken breast maybe?
sfmiller April 20, 2012
First, get an instant-read digital meat thermometer and learn to use it. You can get a good one for less than $20, and it will last for many years and take the guesswork out of meat cookery. Chicken is cooked and safe to eat at 165 F. Insert the thermometer probe into the center of the thickest part of the piece you're cooking, but not touching bone. If it reads 160F or higher, remove the chicken from heat (the internal temperature will continue to rise as it rests).

Don't be wedded to cooking times: doneness is a function of temperature, not time alone. Suggested cooking times are just guidelines. Exactly when a piece of chicken is done will vary according to the size of the piece, its temperature when you started (straight out of the fridge, or room temp?), the exact temp of your oven and pan, the material of the pan, among other things. So take it's temperature.

Once you've been cooking for a while, you'll develop a sense of when it's done by touch (cooked chicken is firm to the touch, not soft) and sight (clear juices running from the flesh, as described above) . But in the early stages of learning to cook, it's best to use the thermometer.
aargersi April 20, 2012
I have become a huge fan of brining, which saves you to a certain extent even if you over cook - especially those boneless skinless breasts. It's very easy - my basic recipe is equal parts salt and sugar - 1/4 cup each for 2 breasts - with 2-3 bay leaves and a few peppercorns. Bring all of this to a boil with 2 cups of water. Turn off the heat and stir until it is dissolved. Then add 2 cups of ice. Pour the now cool brine over the chicken (in a container of course!) and let is soak for a LEAST a couple hours - or you could do this before work in the morning. Then you can pan sear or grill or bake the chicken in the evening - maybe with just a little olive oil and lemon, ground pepper. Combine this with Lorigoldsby's advice and you will have a moist juicy chicken dinner - winner winner!!!
SKK April 20, 2012
Brining makes all the difference!
SirMarc,Wang April 21, 2012
Thanks : )
lorigoldsby April 20, 2012
Just last night I made very moist skinless, boneless chicken breasts which we will use for lunches. As TCULiz says, do not overcook! For a novice cook, that will be your new skill to master! Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a good option if you are wanting a lean protein. They are a good choice because they are somewhat uniform in size...bake at 350...this isn't a aren't trying to get a "crust or sear" on your meat. Start checking your chicken at 15 minutes and check every 5 minutes...this way you will learn how long it takes...when the chicken is firm to the touch and when gently prodded with a fork, the juices run is done. You WANT "juices"! just not any blood! You may want to invest in a meat thermometer ...but remember the temp keeps rising even after removing from the oven!
TCULiz April 20, 2012
For one, do not over cook the chicken. Over cooking it makes it dry. I believe the marinade and spices definitely helps. I usually in some form or another use acid from lemons or limes, some type of dairy like buttermilk, and spices.
SirMarc,Wang April 20, 2012
How do you cook it, time-wise. e.g. Chicken breasts, drumsticks etc...

Esther P. April 20, 2012
A whole chicken? Or pieces? Generally, I cook it in a casserole (le creuset with a tight fitting lid - a Dutch oven?) splash of water/chicken stock/wine in the bottom, and put the lid on and put it in the oven gas mk 4/180 c till it smells of chicken in the kitchen! Don't keep opening the lid to look, and it'll turn out great! Use the juices in the bottom for the gravy... I like to add creme fraiche and tarragon to the juices.
SirMarc,Wang April 20, 2012
Not sure how to prepare a casserole or some of the other terms. I'm a guy (hungry guy) that doesn't venture in the kitchen much, however,
making an effort to learn how to cook, & of my most frustrating elements is chicken. Whether drumsticks, chicken breast etc... Always comes out dry as a bone. Usually, put it a Tbsp of olive oil in a pan, season said chicken lightly with salt n pepper, & throw it in the pan. Cook in high for about 15 -25 minutes each side. Result: burn't outsides, still undercooked insides. Solution: I stick in the oven abt eh... 350 - 450 degrees(F) to try & moisten it up & cook for 15-20 min., doesn't happen : (

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