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For tenderness and doneness, FSIS recommends cooking whole chicken to 180 °F as measured in the thigh using a food thermometer. For approximate cooking times to use in meal planning, see the following chart compiled from various resources.

Whole broiler fryer+ 3 to 4 lbs. 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hrs. 60 to 75 min. 60 to 75 min*

Whole roasting hen+ 5 to 7 lbs. 2 to 2 1/4 hrs. 1 3/4 to 2 hrs. 18-25 min/lb.*

Whole capon+ 4 to 8 lbs. 2 to 3 hrs. Not suitable 15-20 min/lb.*

Whole Cornish hens+ 18-24 oz. 50 to 60 min. 35 to 40 min. 45 to 55 min*

Breast halves, bone-in 6 to 8 oz. 30 to 40 min. 35 to 45 min. 10 - 15 min/side

Breast half, boneless 4 ounces 20 to 30 min. 25 to 30 min. 6 to 8 min/side

Legs or thighs 8 or 4 oz. 40 to 50 min. 40 to 50 min. 10 - 15 min/side

Drumsticks 4 ounces 35 to 45 min. 40 to 50 min. 8 to 12 min/side

Wings or vignettes 2 to 3 oz. 30 to 40 min. 35 to 45 min. 8 to 12 min/side + Unstuffed.
If stuffed, add 15 to 30 minutes additional time.

* Indirect method using drip pan.

Microwave  Directions:
Microwave on medium-high (70 percent power): whole chicken, 9 to 10 minutes per pound; bone-in parts and Cornish hens, 8 to 9 minutes per pound; boneless breasts halves, 6 to 8 minutes per pound.

When micro waving parts, arrange in dish or on rack so thick parts are toward the outside of dish and thin or bony parts are in the center. Place whole chicken in an oven cooking bag or in a covered pot.

For boneless breast halves, place in a dish with 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap. Allow 10 minutes standing time for bone-in chicken; 5 minutes for boneless breast.

Use a food thermometer to test for doneness in several places, and check for visual signs of doneness as above.

Partial Cooking:

Never brown or partially cook chicken to refrigerate and finish cooking later because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. It is safe to partially pre-cook or microwave chicken immediately before transferring it to the hot grill to finish cooking.


Chicken is a healthful meat which provides a significant amount of protein. A 100-gram (3 1/2-ounce) portion of roasted breast meat with skin has 197 calories, 30 grams of protein, 84 milligrams cholesterol and 7.8 grams fat (35% of total calories). To eliminate about half the fat, trim away the skin before eating the meat. It makes little difference in the fat content whether the skin is removed before or after cooking, but the meat is moister and more tender when cooked with the skin on.

Color of Skin:

Chicken skin color varies from cream-colored to yellow. Skin color is a result of the type of feed eaten by the chicken, not a measure of nutritional value, flavor, tenderness or fat content. Color preferences vary in different sections of the country, so growers use the type of feed which produces the desired color.

Dark Bones:

Darkening around bones occurs primarily in young broiler-fryers. Since their bones have not calcified completely, pigment from the bone marrow can seep through the porous bones. Freezing can also contribute to this seepage. When the chicken is cooked, the pigment turns dark. It's perfectly safe to eat chicken meat that turns dark during cooking.

Pink Meat:

When testing for doneness, rubbery pink meat and pink juices are a sign that the chicken needs additional cooking.

However, if the chicken has reached 180 °F, the juices run clear and the meat is tender but looks pink, it should be safe to eat. The pink color in safely cooked chicken is due to the hemoglobin in tissues which can form a heat-stable color. Smoking or grilling may also cause this reaction, which occurs more in young birds.

Color of Giblets:

Giblet color can vary, especially in the liver, from mahogany to yellow. The type of feed, the chicken's metabolism and its breed can account for the variation in color. If the liver is green, do not eat it. This is due to bile retention. However, the chicken meat should be safe to eat.

Fatty Deposits:

Chickens may seem to have more fatty deposits or contain a larger "fat pad" than in the past. This is because broiler fryer chickens have been bred to grow very rapidly to supply the demand for more chicken.

Feed that is not converted into muscle tissue (meat) is metabolized into fat. However, the fat is not "marbled" into the meat as is beef or other red meat, and can be easily removed. Geneticists are researching ways to eliminate the excess fat.

Trisodium Phosphate:

Food-grade trisodium phosphate (TSP) has been approved by FSIS for use in poultry slaughter as an antimicrobial agent. When immersed in and/or sprayed in a dilute solution on chickens, it can significantly reduce bacteria levels. TSP is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the FDA, and has been safely used for years, particularly in processed cheese.

Irradiation of Poultry:

In 1992, the USDA approved a rule to permit irradiation of raw, fresh or frozen packaged poultry to control certain common bacteria on raw poultry that can cause illness when poultry is undercooked or otherwise mishandled. Irradiation at 1.5 to 3.0 kilogram, the smallest, most practical "dose," would eliminate more than 99 percent of Salmonellae organisms on the treated poultry. Packages of irradiated chicken are easily recognizable at the store because they must carry the international radura symbol along with the statement, "treated with irradiation" or "treated by irradiation."

Storage Times:

Since product dates aren't a guide for safe use of a product, how long can the consumer store the food and still use it at top quality? Follow these tips:

Purchase the product before the date expires.

Follow handling recommendations on product.

Keep chicken in its package until using.


(at 40° F or below) OF CHICKEN PRODUCTS


Fresh Chicken, Giblets or Ground Chicken 1 to 2 days

Cooked Chicken, Leftover 3 to 4 days

Chicken Broth or Gravy 1 to 2 days

Cooked Chicken Casseroles, Dishes or Soup 3 to 4 days

Cooked Chicken Pieces, covered with broth or gravy 1 to 2 days

Cooked Chicken Nuggets, Patties 1 to 2 days

Fried Chicken 3 to 4 days

Take-Out Convenience Chicken (Rotisserie, Fried, etc.) 3 to 4 days

Restaurant Chicken Leftovers, brought immediately home in a "Doggy Bag" 3 to 4 days

Store-cooked Chicken Dinner including gravy 1 to 2 days

Chicken Salad 3 to 5 days

Deli-sliced Chicken Luncheon Meat 3 to 5 days

Chicken Luncheon Meat, sealed in package 2 weeks (but no longer than 1 week after a "sell-by" date)

Chicken Luncheon Meat, after opening 3 to 5 days

Vacuum-packed Dinners, Commercial brand with USDA seal Unopened 2 weeks

Opened 3 to 4 days

Chicken Hotdogs, unopened 2 weeks

Chicken Hotdogs, after opening 7 days

Canned Chicken Products 2 to 5 years in pantry



Those who declare themselves Masters of the Barbecue know that safety begins long before the meat hits the grill. As a rule of flame, follow these tips to smarter, safer barbecuing.

BBQ Preparation:

Keep meat chilled. Place meat in the refrigerator/freezer immediately after purchasing. Place wrapped meat into a separate plastic bag or container to avoid contamination.

Thaw meat before cooking. Allow meat to completely thaw in the refrigerator before placing on the grill.

Marinate wisely. Marinate meat in a tight-sealing plastic container or use two sealable plastics bags, which helps prevent leakage, especially when transporting meat in a cooler to a picnic or tailgate party.

Wash hands frequently. When working with raw meat, wash hands with soapy water frequently.

Keep food and drink separate. Two insulated plastic coolers - one for food, one for drink - keeps meat chilled. The drink cooler is easily accessible and the food cooler stays closed - free from bacteria that thrives in warm temperatures.

Keep it cool. Place perishable food on bed of ice and cover tight with plastic to keep food cool and fresh.

Stick to plastic. Glass containers are breakable. Use plastic disposable dishware at and around the grill to avoid accidents due to breakage.

Avoid cross contamination. A prime cause of summer food-borne illness is the transfer of bacteria from uncooked to cooked meat. Use separate plastic containers and plates for uncooked and cooked meat.

Don't forget the cutting board. Remember to wash all cutting boards and plastic containers that touched uncooked meat in hot, soapy water.

Use a meat thermometer. Meat must reach a temperature of 160 degrees before it is safe to serve. Use a thermometer to avoid serving under cooked meat.

How Long Will the Food in Your Freezer and Refrigerator Last?
Fridge: Produce

  • Apples: 3 weeks

  • Blueberries: 1 week

  • Broccoli and cauliflower: 1 week

  • Chard, kale, and spinach: 3 days

  • Leafy herbs: 3 days

  • Lemons and limes: 3 weeks

  • Lettuce: 5 days

  • Melon: 5 days

  • Mushrooms: 1 week

  • Strawberries and raspberries: 3 days

  • Winter squash: 1 week

  • Woody herbs: 3 weeks

How to Reduce Food Waste in Your Home


  • Hard cheeses: 4 to 6 months, unopened

  • Butter: 3 months 

  • Cream cheese: 2 months, unopened

  • Eggs: 3 to 5 weeks

  • Heavy cream: 1 month

  • Milk: 1 week

  • Pizza: 3 to 4 days 

  • Ricotta and cottage cheese: 1 week 

  • Sour cream: 3 weeks

  • Soft cheese: 2 weeks, unopened

  • Tofu: 3 weeks

  • Yogurt: 2 weeks 

Meat, Poultry, Seafood

  • Bacon: 2 weeks, unopened

  • Chicken: 1 to 2 days

  • Cold cuts: 2 weeks, unopened

  • Fish fillets: 2 days

  • Ground meat: 1 to 2 days

  • Hot dogs: 2 weeks, unopened

  • Pork, chops and roasts: 3 to 5 days

  • Raw shrimp: 2 days

  • Shellfish (in shells): 2 days

  • Shellfish (shucked): 1 day

  • Steaks: 3 to 5 days

Opened Condiments 

  • Ketchup: 6 months

  • Maple syrup: 1 year

  • Mayonnaise: 2 months

  • Mustard: 1 month

  • Salsa: 1 month

  • Soy sauce: 1 year

The Major Storage Mistake You’re Making With Bread


Times are based on a freezer set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Storing and eating frozen foods past these deadlines isn't dangerous, but flavors and textures will begin to deteriorate.

Meat, Poultry, Seafood

  • Bacon: 1 month 

  • Chicken, raw: 9 to 12 months

  • Chicken or turkey, cooked: 4 to 6 months

  • Cold cuts: 2 months

  • Fish fillets: 6 months

  • Ground meat: 4 months

  • Ham, cooked: 1 to 2 months

  • Hot dogs: 1 to 2 months

  • Meat casseroles, cooked: 3 months

  • Pork, chops and roasts: 4 to 12 months

  • Raw shrimp: 6 months

  • Shellfish (shucked): 3 months

  • Steaks: 4 to 12 months

  • Tofu: 5 months 


  • Bread and cake: 3 months

  • Butter: 6 to 9 months

  • Cookies, baked or dough: 3 months

  • Fruit: 6 to 12 months

  • Fruit pies, unbaked: 9 months

  • Ice cream and sorbet: 2 months

  • Pizza: 1 to 2 months

  • Soups and stews: 2 to 3 months

  • Yogurt: 2 months

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