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Sometimes chicken breast can be thick and I never know how to tell when it's cooked! How can I be certain it is cooked all the way through?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

A thermometer is the only way to be sure.

For methods with a consistent level of heat (stove, oven), you should able to learn the average cooking time, and outwards cues of color and texture that match the right internal temperature. Remember that these will vary with cooking method and temperature. Internally, the meat should look opaque and white.

These are CUES of doneness, not guarantees. Use the thermometer.

For methods with inconsistent levels of heat (bbq, campfire), wait until it looks nearly done and then check with the thermometer.

Err on the safe side. Prepared properly, chicken is a lot more forgiving of overcooking than steak.

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juices running clear is another typical indication of doneness, but the only surefire way is the thermometer. – Manako Aug 6 '10 at 16:43
Thermometer will prevent you from over cooking too. Once it's over 170 for white, 180 for dark, it's too late... – Rake36 Aug 6 '10 at 16:45
This is a great thermometer. I love mine. Also note that the internal temp will continue to rise in heat for 10 minutes after you take it off heat. If you wait until 170 to take a chicken breast off-heat, you'll overcook it. Take it off at 165 and let it come up to temp. – Rich Armstrong Aug 6 '10 at 20:01

Best way is a meat thermometer.

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Cook chicken with someone who's done it many times before and see how they check it. Pay attention to what it looks like near the bone (or in the center of the largest pieces if there are no bones). Do this a couple times and enjoy eating with other people :)

Or use a thermometer, but make sure it's reading the temperature correctly, and that you're putting it into the thickest meat near a bone. It'll work, but I trust someone who's done it before over a gadget I've never used.

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