Is it possible for a piece of chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165F and still be raw?


Just to be clear, this is not something I experienced. I was just wondering if it was in fact possible. I'm looking for a scientific explanation of why this can or cannot happen.

  • 1
    I imagine that will depend how long it spends at the temperature.
    – Orbling
    Jan 18, 2011 at 0:19
  • @Orbling: I seriously doubt it's possible to heat a piece of meat to 165F then cool it back down before the chemical reactions of cooking take place.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 18, 2011 at 6:04
  • @Jefromi: Well I am unsure, I doubt it is instant, so there must be an element of duration at play. Someone more versed in the intricacies of food science will no doubt know.
    – Orbling
    Jan 18, 2011 at 6:08
  • 1
    165F is not a magic number where cooking starts, it's a number chosen that should indicate that the chicken has spent sufficient time at sufficient temperature to have killed a reasonable amount of harmful microbes.
    – Ven'Tatsu
    Jan 18, 2011 at 15:17
  • Chicken is pretty cooked around 140, and by 160 it is the firm consistency that you'd expect. If your thermometer registered 165, and the chicken looked raw, your thermometer was either broken, or incorrectly positioned...Though I remember one memorable time when I had a girl over for cornish hens, and she cut into hers and skin and juice made a raw-looking bit which completely put her off, though after I stabbed it with a fork and wine poured out, she calmed down and ate it (and it was yummy). Jan 19, 2011 at 1:13

2 Answers 2


No, 165 is cooked, but a couple of things could be going wrong. Your thermometer might be out of calibration, or you might not have gotten it exactly to the center of the meat. To test the calibration, check it against boiling water which should be exactly 212 assuming you are at or near sea level.

  • 6
    Also, if a probe thermometer touches bone, it can throw off the reading even more.
    – Bob
    Jan 18, 2011 at 12:46

It depends on how you define "raw".

165F is merely a threshold temperature for killing-off harmful bacteria in a short amount of time (such as with baking or grilling). It has nothing to do with actual "rawness", it is a food-safety temperature.

Some restaurants cook meat (even poultry) using the "sous vide" method at a dramatically lower temperature than conventional cooking methods. Basically, the idea is you cook the meat in a vacuum drawn plastic bag in a water bath at ~130's F, for a significant amount of time (sometimes hours). This makes the meat extraordinarily tender, juicy and uniformly "cooked" even though no point in the meat ever reaches 165F.

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