Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I tried to bake chicken thighs the other day and I used my probe thermometer to tell me when they were done. Well it seems that I did something wrong when inserting the thermometer because the thighs were still undercooked.

How can you use a probe thermometer on a chicken thigh to accurately take its temperature?

share|improve this question
How do you know that they were undercooked? The main reason to use a thermometer is that it's more accurate than other indicators. – Aaronut May 14 '13 at 0:28

I assume you cooked your chicken thighs to 165–175°F (74-80°C) (depending on preference). 165°F (74°C) is the recommended temperature for safety (at least by US authorities), 175°F (80°C) is often recommended for texture (in legs and thighs; not for breast).

The best bet is to measure in several spots. You generally want to guess the thickest spot of meat, insert the probe past the center, then slowly withdraw it. How slowly depends on the response time of your probe. You then use the lowest temperature you see, especially if you see anything under the food-safety temperature (165°F or 74°C).

If there are multiple pieces of chicken, you should check several. Especially if they're different sizes.

Probe response times are anywhere from 20 seconds on fairly cheap thermometers, down to 3 seconds on expensive ones (like a Thermopen). 10 seconds is typical. You'll know its finished responding when the numbers stop changing quickly.

You also should rest the chicken, loosely tented, for at least 5 minutes (for just thighs, more like 15 minutes for a full chicken) after taking it off the heat—this lets the heat even out, and also will reduce the amount of juice lost when cutting.

share|improve this answer

You want to:

  1. Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching any bone which would give you a falsely high reading
  2. Wait long enough for the temperature reading to stabilize (which may be 5-10 seconds depending on your thermometer)

Note that once you start measuring your temperature, you may be cooking your thighs properly, but may be so used to overcooked meat that properly cooked thighs are unpalatable to you. Of course, you should find the temperature you like as long as it is above the safety threshold.

Typically, thighs would be cooked to about 165-170 F.

share|improve this answer
When you freshly insert the thermometer, the temperature is going to still be going up—so failing to wait for it (when you've just stuck it in) would result on overcooking. – derobert May 13 '13 at 19:57
@derobert Erm... it does say "wait long enough for the temperature reading to stabalize"... what I am I missing? – SAJ14SAJ May 13 '13 at 19:59
OP complained of it being undercooked, not overcooked. I'm just saying that failing to wait probably wasn't OP's problem. – derobert May 13 '13 at 20:00
This is an answer on properly, not just one form of the error :-) – SAJ14SAJ May 13 '13 at 20:02

According to the FSIS site you should check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh. The middle of it is the part that will take the longest to cook, so that's where you should put the tip of the probe.

Take care to not touch the bones, since they can conduct the heat from the "outside" and give an incorrect reading.

Finally, it will depend on your taste, but I would overcook it the first time (let's say, 165 F) and then see if it's more or less to your desired point. Then I would adjust the temperature to the desired taste.

share|improve this answer

I put the probe in the thickest part of the thigh and try to also hit the bone as the thickest part will have a bone n the middle. Also the last places to reach temperature are always closest to the bone. (I never put the probe near the ends of the bone (where it's not thickest anyway) and I've never had a false high reading. Just let the point touch the bone but don't push it into the bone.

I like to hit the bone with the point at the thickest spot. If it's 165 there then the rest is good. I also pick the thickest piece if they don't vary much in size. If they vary I check the smallest first. I pick them off from smallest to largest as they reach 165.

share|improve this answer
Interesting, another answer says to never touch the bones because they can falsify the reading. Do you have a source for the bone touching thing? – rumtscho Nov 11 '15 at 11:48

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.