All questions

Help - Odd chicken texture

I have been having an issue on and off with the texture of my chicken. The chicken is fully cooked through (I can tell based on internal temp, time in the oven, color of the chicken and juices), but the texture of the chicken is funny, almost like it hasn't been thoroughly cooked. When I cut into the chicken I feel resistance (like you would when butchering raw chicken rather than cutting/carving cooked chicken) and there is a strange almost squeaky mouth feel. This has happened to me with bone in, skin on chicken breasts and also skinless boneless breasts. Usually when this happens to me, there are some pieces of chicken that are fine, but others that are decidedly not. At first, I thought it was a result of cooking frozen chicken that hadn't fully thawed. But last night, this happened when I roasted some never frozen bone in breasts from the fridge. Could this have something to do with how I'm cooking the meat? Or is it a sad byproduct of factory farmed chicken breasts? Has anyone else had this problem?

asked by JessicaHansen over 2 years ago

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
34 answers 69106 views
cv
cv
added over 2 years ago

As for the way you're cooking your meat, that's difficult to comment on since you don't actually mention how you are cooking it. You should cook chicken to 160 degrees internal temperature on a meat thermometer. Assuming you are doing so, your commentary would indicate that your problem is with the ingredient itself.

Look at your chicken very closely. Assuming you are purchasing prepackaged chicken, look at the ingredient list on the package.

These days, many commercial chicken producers are brining their meat which alters the texture substantially.

I find the texture of brined poultry (chicken and turkey) to be utterly repellent, but some people here seem to enjoy it. Brining also increases moisture retention which essentially allows poultry producers to increase package weight with water.

You should consider changing sources, either switch brands or find a store that has a butcher case staffed by people.

Good luck.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
JessicaHansen
added over 2 years ago

Thanks CV. I know I was vague, but the thing is that this has happened to me with very different cooking methods. It has happened when i have sliced and stir fried boneless skinless chicken breasts and also when I have roasted bone-in skin-on chicken breasts. The only constant is that my chicken is often on the cold side and I tend to cook (particularly on weeknights) with high heat. So stir fry in a very hot wok or griddle and roast in a pretty hot oven (425 or so).

cv
cv
added over 2 years ago

Well, I'm an old fogey and I've been cooking chicken for decades (whole and parts) a variety of ways, at a wide range of temperatures, using all sorts of pans, pots, grills, heat sources, etc.

My chicken supply is pretty reliable. I buy A.) whole frozen chickens from farmers market, B.) whole ones or parts from the staffed butcher case at my favorite local grocery store, or C.) parts from the refrigerator case (making sure the parts aren't adulterated).

You don't say where you get your chicken, but like *ALL* ingredients, all chicken is not equal. Choose wisely.

pierino
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 2 years ago

Also 425F seems a lot too hot for roasting pieces in the oven. I would start it at that temp but then drop it down to 375 and cook more slowly. See if that helps the texture.

SMSF
SMSF

SMSF is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

There is a new-ish problem with some chicken called "woody breast" that seems to fit your description. Read about it here:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/bigger-chickens-bring-a-tough-new-problem-woody-breast-1459207291

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
JessicaHansen
added over 2 years ago

Interesting. This sounds like what I've run into. The only thing is, that it seems to be occurring around 25% of the time. I have only run into this issue with breast meat. And it has always been in those chicken breasts that look on the larger side of normal to me. The texture really is unpleasant. Also, if I cut the meat at all, I can often guess that I am going to have this issue before I even cook the meat. All in line with what the article says. I guess sourcing is the answer?

cv
cv
added over 2 years ago

That is interesting and it's clear why I have never run into Jessica's problem: I buy smaller birds.

When I buy at my farmers market, I always ask for the smallest one they have; if I'm lucky, it weighs in around 3.5-3.75 pounds. When I buy a whole chicken at the grocery store's staffed butcher case, I always try to get a small one.

This is mostly due to the fact that my meat consumption is quite small, so having a smaller bird fits better with my own eating habits. I also like the way the smaller birds taste and cook up.

Clearly all chicken is not equal as I mentioned earlier.

HalfPint
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

What type of chicken are you using? A stewing chicken can be a little tougher, need more slow cooking to tenderize the meat. Roasters can be more tender than stewing hens. If you are cooking free-range chicken, the meat will be a little tougher/chewier.

Side note: we Viets like our chicken on the chewier side and we'll actually pay a little more for that quality.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
pierino
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 2 years ago

Most supermarket chicken today contains a high percentage of water. You can get around that by purchasing air dried chicken. Whole Foods, among others, carries it. Mary's is one brand name.

BerryBaby
BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

added over 2 years ago

I have found soaking the chicken in buttermilk for about a half hour really makes a difference in texture and flavor. Then, dredge it in seasoned flour and shake off the excess. It's not plain roasted but it sure is tasty and the chicken is delicious.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
amysarah
amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

That squeaky mouth feel sounds like brining. Not a fan myself. Some chickens (e.g., kosher birds, but also some others) are injected with a salt solution, particularly white meat, which is essentially brining. Maybe that's the issue.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
creamtea
creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Just a small correction, amysarah, and not intended personally, since in the past I've noticed some general misperceptions here about kosher chickens: kosher birds are never actually injected with salt water. The process is detailed and performed with great care. It is designed to remove all traces of blood to make foul or meat fit for consumption ("kosher" means "fit", kosher salt which is coarse and has no additives is intended specifically for this purpose). For those who keep kosher (and eat meat), it is an obligatory process (and of course, is not intended as a brine, marinade or flavor enhancer). Just saying!

At some point in the 80s it became generally fashionable to prepare kosher birds--they were perceived as either healthier or more flavorful (or both).

amysarah
amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

I'm sure you're right, creamtea. And yes, "koshering" is indeed far more involved than just that. It's been many years since I had a kosher bird (at relatives' homes.) I recall them being more salty...but this was back in the land before time, so probably shouldn't have included them.
Kosher aside, the texture of brined white meat (is 'bouncy' the word?) is what puts me off.

BakerRB
added over 2 years ago

Yes! I'm not alone! I don't have any explanation, but I've had this unpleasant problem lately too - any cooking method, can kind of tell from looking at it and handling it raw that it's likely to happen. I don't know why, but the wsj article seems in the right direction. Maybe a milder version of the defect is sold rather than pulled from the line or reprocessed?

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
JessicaHansen
added over 2 years ago

So glad I'm not out here alone! Thanks for chiming in BakerRB.

Ascender
added over 2 years ago

Marinading chicken (or any protein) in an acid for too long can make it mushy. I made that mistake with a dish in which the chicken was supposed to marinade for an hour in a mixture based on fresh lemon juice. I figured if an hour was good, all day would be better. Big mistake!

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
ChefJune
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

Sorry I can't help you because I haven't bought chicken in a supermarket for more years than I can remember. I'm guessing that, like cv said, your product has been pre-brined. I also do not care for the texture of brined poultry.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Janet Banks Jermakian
added about 1 year ago

Omg yes! I actually googled this and your same query came up on this site. We really eat a lot of chicken but this crunchy chicken breast issue ( which happens about 25% of the time) is turning me off to even buying breasts anymore. My husband even e perform ex this with a McDonalds grilled chicken sandwich. I wish I knew the answer...... You're the first person I've encountered who's experienced this!

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
John Gibson
added about 1 year ago

Like Janet Jessica I have also experienced this very same problem. Not always, but occasionally when grilling boneless-skinless breast of chicken the texture comes out crunchy. What a turn off, I almost can't eat the chicken although the flavor doesn't seem to be affected, this texture is awful. Mostly, the breasts that I purchase are large weighing one pound plus that I often cut in half and pound, but still get the texture problem. I will try to find smaller breasts to see if that works!

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Emily Stone
added 12 months ago

I had the same problem with large, bone-in, skin on breasts that were roasted at 400. They were Bell & Evans. I thought that was a better brand and I was buying good chicken. But I couldn't even eat part of it it - the chicken while it seemed to be fully cooked had a crunchy texture as if it were somewhat raw. I used a thermometer on one of the pieces and it read 167, although I am not positive it was the piece I ended up eating because I only measured one piece. I served it to some friends for dinner and I was horrified and it really ruined the meal for me; I hope not them too. They said theirs was fine but I don't know if they were just being polite :(. I am never buying big breasts again! Thank you for this post as I was really perplexed. Glad I am not the only person this has happened to.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Marleia Price-Edwards
added 9 months ago

something is wrong with most of the chicken breast now a days. I have been having this problem for about 5/6 years now ,from store bought and butcher shop chicken breast,Still can't figure it out HELP PLEASE!

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Gary
added 9 months ago

yes I am haveing the same issue, one few years ago then again recently. It is just in boneless breasts that we have had the issue I called the grocery store manager and he said he has had more than a few complaints on in past and the complaints are restarting again. I did not get the name and brand of the chicken but we will. The chicken was cut for cutlets and prepared as breaded the color and temp cook was spot on juicy and tasteful but on of the 3 breasts in the package that yielded 3 filet's was rubbery taste like chewing rubber-bands, and hard to cut. This is odd yes but consistent with previous chicken breasts cooked prior and why we stopped buying boneless breasts. I will follow up on this but it is still happening and it is disgusting. Its not the cooking its the product for sure.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Gary
added 9 months ago

I hope you check this and respond :)

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
cv
cv
added 9 months ago

Guys, the explanation was identified by SMSF shortly after the original inquiry was made:

The answer lies in the previously hyperlinked article from the Wall Street Journal:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bigger-chickens-bring-a-tough-new-problem-woody-breast-1459207291

The problem is called "woody breast" and recognized by the industry. It is directly related to commercial chicken producers breeding fowl to produce larger amounts of the white meat preferred by the modern consumer.

In fact, the breast of some of these chickens weigh more than an entire chicken did 20-30 years ago.

This is causing abnormalities in the breast meat that cannot be detected until the meat is cooked. This happens now in about 5-10% of typical mass-market commercial chicken breasts.

As I pointed out in my reply, it appears I have not encountered this problem simply because of my personal preference in smaller chicken breasts (I don't eat a lot of meat, don't have an interest in huge chicken breast portions).

There are only a handful of breed lines sourced for producing commercial chicken here in the USA, so the frequency of "woody breast" is not so surprising, assuming the condition is genetically determined.

The easiest course of action to minimize this problem would be to simply avoid buying gargantuan chicken breasts at the store.

Best of luck.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Susie Summer Macinnes
added 8 months ago

I'm so glad I found this thread. I'm in the UK and have come across this problem about four times now in the last four or five months. The first was in a batch of frozen chicken fillets from a supermarket, but the others have been from my local butcher who are otherwise very good. It's as described above, you cook the chicken thoroughly, but the texture is almost rubbery as if it is raw and it turns my stomach every time.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Marlen
added 8 months ago

Thanks Everyone for the replies, especially the link provided. About 15 minutes ago I went to cut the "gargantuan" (LOL, someone elses's word used here) breast to grill up for chicken salad and after rinsing it noticed the stringiness, and I could literally pick and pull off srtingy pcs super easy, that type of thing totally creeps me out I had chills all over immediately, eww! I won't ever buy a large chicken breast again, disgusting texture. Going to make sure I know of the source, they are small, and make sure they have not been injected/brined, thanks everyone.


Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Kim Ferraioli
added 8 months ago

According to this article, it is not you
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/woody-breast-could-bite-the-chicken-business/
After cooking the same way for 20 years, I have also noticed this rubbery, off, texture in chicken breasts over the last couple of years. Even when others in the same package are fine, there are one or two that aren't.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Alex
added 7 months ago

I have the same problem, the breasts are not edible, so crunchy. I don't know what to do. I buy organic chicken breasts and taste horrible. The cheep variety is nice and smooth but then you do not know what they feed them. I wish I could find a brand of organic chicken breasts that are not crunchy.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Amy Meyer
added 7 months ago

Yes!! Same thing happened to me when I made chicken parm last week..I thought it might be the pounding or the pan, but same thing you describe....cooked but textremely is raw feeling in the mouth...thought I was crazy.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
clarabelle
added 7 months ago

So relieved to know I'm not going mad. This weird chicken texture is very sad to me as chicken is my favorite go-to meal. What started out as sporadic, is now quite pervasive. Thin breasts, thick breasts, frozen, fresh, chain-store, butcher bought, even take out has a raw, horrible consistency. Not all pieces though, and even parts of one piece may be affected but not the whole piece. Really strange and sad. You know what we have to do.......complain, because the squeaky wheel gets the oil and corporations wouldn't want to lose a dime.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Alyssa Gillon
added 6 months ago

Cut that meat against the grain yo

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Deborah
added 5 months ago

I am so glad I found this thread as I had been noticing this is chicken breasts. And yes, it tends to be the larger ones sold at the butcher counter as singles (by the piece, boned, skinless). I have tried various cooking methods and nothing tenderizes them. The only option I see is to grind them/ chop them in food processor and try them as patties or chicken meatballs with other ingredients. They are even too tough to cut up and stir fry (tried that....not good).

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Ann
Ann
added 3 months ago

I have been coming across the same problem for a while now and I find it gross and disgusting. I switched buying my meet at 8 AM at market now and have come across the same problem with chicken what is going on??

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Lou
Lou
added 3 months ago

I too have noticed this over the last year. Chicken is the only meat I eat, but do no longer because of this same inconsistent and tasteless result of chicken production. I am totally organic and purchase chicken from farms and also Whole Foods. I also have had chicken at restaurants and have witnessed this same unpleasant taste. Not knowing the reason, i search the internet and read an article from the Wall Street Journal. In summary, in the chicken manufacturers desire to meeting the growing demand of "white" breast meat, the chickens have been getting larger and larger through feeding techniques. This apparently (according to the article) is not dangerous to humans, but because of the now excessive muscle fiber in the breast meat, the taste and texture has changed. Not sure how the market will respond to this unsavory tasting chicken, I know what I have done.

Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)

No need to email me as additional answers are added to this question.
Recommended by Food52