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?

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55 Comments

Alex G. October 15, 2019
I've had that several times last year alone. I have stoped eating chicken breasts completely because of it. It's almost as if it's a tire rubber texture in my mouth. It's always the same. It'll look cooked and be most, but has a slight variant look to it where you can actually see that it's a funky texture. Even cooking it for an extra hour does nothing for the texture.
 
Elaine M. September 30, 2019
YES!! It happened months ago and just happened last week again. Exact description too. I returned about 5 lbs of chicken to a reputable place where we get all our meat. They were good about refunding me me not sure they really understood the issue. Manager asked me to call right away if it happens again, so they can trace the provider. It is also keeping me away from chicken right now!
 
JohnWhinsor September 17, 2019
I've been saying this for the last 18 months but nobody has noticed it except for me. I have been completely avoiding chicken for the last 6 months, then ended up at mcdonald's last week and ordered a chicken legend on auto-pilot. It was like biting into raw chicken, I took it in to complain and they gave me a refund, but it's hard to explain when it looks and feels cooked (albeit a bit spongey). Cooked chicken should be springy, that's how you know it's cooked, I suspect you get the woody effect if you cook it longer to firm it up, but obviously mcdonalds cook everything on a timer so you get the "raw" experience instead.
 
JohnWhinsor September 17, 2019
Oh and the first experience I had 18 months ago, I cooked a chicken kiev for over 2 hours in a 200 degree oven (checked the temperature, and other food cooked fine), but somehow it didn't burn, in fact it still seemed raw. I took it out briefly to check it every 20 mins or so in utter disbelief, but it was like there was so much water in the fibres of the meat that it couldn't dry up and finish cooking. I asked my step mother who is a chef and she said that it was impossible.
 
JohnWhinsor September 17, 2019
Celcius*
 
Courtney J. September 4, 2019
Oh my goodness I thought I was crazy!!! I seriously gag when I bite into a piece and my husband thinks I’m crazy! I guess it doesn’t bother him but we get ours from Aldi and they are HUGE so I am thinking we will pay a little more for them from somewhere else because I can’t do it anymore!!! I even had that same experience in a restaurant in our small town and asked if they got a different cut or anything and they said no... I love chicken, I need to find something that works though. Can’t do raw feeling chicken 🤮
 
ksimkhovich August 15, 2019
I work for a farm animal welfare NGO (we work with companies to improve their policies) and we've been seeing this issue come up a lot, as it's not only a quality issue, but a welfare issue as well. These muscular issues are a result of selective breeding for really fast growth and high breast meat yielding chickens (which make up 98% of chicken breeds today raised by companies), and actually is not a result from hormones (as it's actually illegal to administer hormones to chickens and pigs in the US). As other commentators have correctly observed, woody breast, is essentially a muscular disorder that begins to manifest early on in the chickens life and gets progressively worse at they reach their slaughter, weight, which is as few as 4-5 weeks later. On a pathological level it results in vein inflammation, muscle degradation, muscle death (necrosis), and lesions in the muscle. Not only does it result in what you all have experienced in cooking chicken, but is also a painful, chronic issue in the chickens. Here's a short white paper we put together on it in case of interest: https://www.ciwf.com/media/7429726/declining-nutritional-value-of-factory-farmed-chicken.pdf
 
Michael S. August 15, 2019
It's the first time I have experienced this, a raw, "al-denté", cartilage/meat hybrid sponge-like material not comparable to anything I can think of besides a baked apple mouth-feel, that isn't pleasant and completely unpalatable, I'll be looking for the smaller breasts from now on.
 
Michael S. August 15, 2019
I think I have some form of PTSD now from eating it.
 
chickenman July 15, 2019
OK here goes, It was explained to me like this from a respected butcher. I will butcher this but it is an answer. The chickens are being grown for market too fast. It is more noticeable in the really large breasts. But all could be culprits. These days farmers are able to get chickens to market in 6 weeks. They do that for several reasons. What is happening is it's all about the breasts. I'll wait for the guys to stop giggling ( me included ). The breasts are where the money is.( stop giggling ) The farmers are either pumping them full of hormones or super rich foods to get the breasts to grow very large very fast. Remember organic does not always mean chemical free. I carry several government chemical licenses. The result of these practices are breast meat that has grown to fast for the natural ligaments,muscles,tendons, and all the other natural growing stuff that needs to take place for meat to develop properly. That is the short non scientific answer. I did some experimenting and was pleased. I found some free range chickens in some good little health food store and bought the smallest breasts I could find. I did this for about a month or so and no matter how I cooked them they were not crunchy or woody. They were like chicken used to be. I could not afford to do that any longer so I went back to shopping at the box stores and I always buy the smallest breasts I can find and it is hit and miss but I get the nasty chicken a lot less now with my new practice. If all they have is Frackenchicken then I look for a whole small chicken and I have been lucky to date.
 
Joan M. June 15, 2019
I bought breasts at Trader Joes. They are Woody. June 19, 2019. Very disappointing.
 
Linda L. June 5, 2019
I experienced the strange texture for the first time with Purdue boneless, skinless chicken breasts tonight. First off, they are HUGE, like a turkey breast. I laughingly called it a Frankenchicken during prep. We couldn't eat it; those fibers are too weird and crunch in the most unappetizing way. I took the other, smaller breast, cut into a chunks and quickly sauteed it for our dog. It was so odd: as the pieces cooked, they shrank up, and then exuded a viscous liquid that bubbled. The chicken wouldn't brown, but eventually the liquid evaporated and left a brown scum/skin in the bottom of the pan. We are no longer laughing about Frankenchicken, because that's what it is. It's very disturbing what has become of our food.
 
clarabelle September 4, 2019
Thanks for making me laugh, though you are right....it isn't funny anymore. Same exact thing happening here. Chicken that doesn't brown?? That is Frankenchicken.
 
Michael P. June 1, 2019
I noticed this trend of unappetizing weirdness where some of the chicken breads us normal but prices of it are off

I have noticed this at numerous places including at home

Very frustrating
 
Roxanne D. May 24, 2019
I thought I was the only one experiencing this issue. First noticed the stringiness when buying chicken sandwiches from fast food restaurants. Then I started tasting it in frozen chicken entrees - some pieces good, some pieces not. I've been so turned off by the taste I've actually stopped buying them thinking it was the specific brand. Luckily I've not had this issue with my home cooked chicken - not yet!
 
Julianna Z. April 12, 2019
Omg I am having this same issue! Foster farms chicken breasts from Costco! Tonight I cooked them and they looked wonderful. As I was cutting them I felt resistance while cutting. As I began to eat I could feel this Gross rubbery texture. My kids had a awful look on their faces and my daughter finally says this chicken is horrible! While I’m normally hurt when they insult my food, I couldn’t help but agree!! I told them not to eat it and gave it to the dog. My daughter then said mom sorry to say this but your chicken has been like this for a while! I’ve noticed it one other time. If I cook in crock pot it’s fine but if I bake it, it gets rubbery!
 
David B. March 22, 2019
Yes!!! I've noticed an issue as well and it's always been difficult to describe it. I think it is Woody Chicken breast as the other poster pointed out. I'm happy to learn this because putting a name to it and understanding that it may have a tell-tale sign (the white striping), may help me avoid it when selecting chicken.
In my experience I notice a tough fibrous texture where you can feel every tissue fiber break under your knife or teeth while chewing. I wonder if what I describe is similar to your experiences.
 
clarabelle March 3, 2019
Have been having the same problem. Hit or miss these days and so as not to ruin a whole meal (not to mention all the time and expense involved), I have just been cooking the meat to death, which, of course, makes it dry. But I'd take dry over this new crazy chicken texture. It has to have something to do with corporate profits, but, eventually, more and more people will become aware of this weird situation and start to back off a bit. Maybe not, some people I've asked think I'm crazy, others agree whole-heartedly. Hope they fix it.
 
nicole L. March 11, 2019
Thank you!!! I started to notice this Trent in chicken several years ago...and no one really knew what I was trying to explain. It grossed me out so much- I’ve almost stopped eating chicken altogether. My guess is all the saline/ other solutions that are pumped into the chicken while raw, so that it can be sold for more profit. I’ll leep reading all the responses on this thread to see what everyone else thinks .
 
Teresa W. March 3, 2019
It really feels like they’ve thrown In some othe type of meat, like passed off as chicken but really not; sometimes I wish I knew a lab where they test food, anyone here know of one
 
Teresa W. March 3, 2019
Bought skinless breast and the texture when cut into was smooth and taste more like processed than real chicken, i could not eat the taste was weird
 
Lou September 20, 2018
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.
 
Ann August 30, 2018
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??
 
Deborah July 15, 2018
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).
 
Alyssa G. June 2, 2018
Cut that meat against the grain yo
 
clarabelle May 23, 2018
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.
 
Amy M. May 21, 2018
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.
 
Alex May 17, 2018
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.
 
Kim F. April 28, 2018
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.
 
Marlen April 14, 2018
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.


 
Susie S. April 14, 2018
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.
 
702551 March 28, 2018
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.
 
Gary March 28, 2018
I hope you check this and respond :)
 
Gary March 28, 2018
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.
 
Marleia P. March 8, 2018
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!
 
Emily S. December 23, 2017
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.
 
John G. September 29, 2017
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!
 
Janet B. September 19, 2017
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!
 
ChefJune August 25, 2016
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.
 
Ascender August 25, 2016
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!
 
BakerRB August 25, 2016
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?
 
JessicaHansen August 25, 2016
So glad I'm not out here alone! Thanks for chiming in BakerRB.
 
amysarah August 24, 2016
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.
 
creamtea August 25, 2016
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 August 25, 2016
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.
 
BerryBaby August 24, 2016
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.
 
HalfPint August 24, 2016
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.
 
pierino August 24, 2016
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.
 
SMSF August 24, 2016
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
 
JessicaHansen August 24, 2016
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?
 
702551 August 24, 2016
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.
 
702551 August 24, 2016
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.
 
JessicaHansen August 24, 2016
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).
 
702551 August 24, 2016
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 August 24, 2016
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.
 
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