In the last year or two we've had increasing problems with fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts that come out tough and stringy. Same recipes and cooking methods as always. Usually baked in some form.

Beyond the many good explanations given here - Will cooking chicken longer in soup make it less tough and stringy?...

I'm in a rural part of the western US, maybe 5+ hours additional transportation from distribution the store.
In the stores, I often find some packages that have a lot of fluid in them. Others have none.

Understanding that the fluid could be from unintended freezing/thawing, or from water added to the chicken, what is the best method to judge the best condition in the store?

Those with fluid in them or those with no excess fluid? Or maybe it's not so relevant?

1 Answer 1


I don't think the amount of water that's 'escaped' from the meat before cooking has any significant effect on your end result. If it's been frozen it will have some effect, but if it's 'supermarket water-injected' it won't.

I don't know about the regulations where you live, but in the UK if you buy 'fresh' meat that has been previously frozen there will be a warning on the pack not to freeze it at home.

Chicken breast will only ever get tougher the more you cook it [it has none of the collagen mentioned in the link], & so many people are scared it's going to leap out & kill them that they over-cook it. Chicken breast is at its best when it's just done, after that it's all downhill.
Poached or roast, chicken is going to need a maximum 20 mins; but if you butterfly it first, halving the thickness, then you can halve the time.

Do you have a meat thermometer? If so, test the temperature in the centre is 75°C, 165°F.
If not then 'sacrifice' the thickest piece - cut into it & make sure there's no pink.

Once you get used to this check method & get better at timings, note you can take it off the heat slightly early rather than late. Residual heat will keep it cooking even on its way to the table.

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