I recently got a temperature meter to make sure meat is cooked, chicken burgers or be in BBQ. What should be the best internal temperature of cooked chicken tikka on skewers and what should I measure the temperature?


1 Answer 1


The following information is all based on information from an article written by J. Kenji Lopez Alt on the Serious Eats website. All the information from his article was based on data from the USDA.


This is sort of a question of two parts. The temperature at which chicken is safe to eat, and the temperature at which it's most pleasurable to eat. I mention the later because in your original question, you didn't specify what type of chicken meat that your skewers are made of.

Whilst breast meat and leg meat are both made safe to eat at the same temperature*, like many people, I find that the darker, fattier meat of the leg and the wings, is more pleasurable to eat when it is cooked to a higher temperature.

*According to the USDA that Kenji used, poultry meat is instantly pasteurised and thus safe to eat (assuming it is fresh and disease free) when the meat has reached an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F). For dark meat, I prefer it to be cooked to around 75°C to 80°C. Cooking to that temperature helps render some of the excess fat out of the meat, which makes the texture a little less slimy, and a little more pleasant to my tastes.

If you cook chicken breasts to 74°C though, you'll probably find them a little bit dry. Thankfully there's another component to cooking / pasteurising meat so that it is safe to eat... time.

Whilst 74°C is the temperature at which poultry is "instantly" pasteurised. As long as you're able to keep the meat at a certain temperature for a given amount of time, it will still be pasteurised even if it never reaches 74°C. Perhaps the most widely used version of this is poaching a chicken breast, where the water might not reach 74°C but the meat is submerged and cooking for long enough that it is safe.

Another common way that meat is held at a certain temperature is when it is rested, as you would rest a steak or roast. This is sometimes called "carry over" cooking. When a food continues to cook from the heat that has built up inside it. It's important to note though, that the temperature of the meat can fall below safe levels when it is rested. So you can necessarily rely on it as a method of "holding" the meat.

Which is why a reliable, accurate thermometer, used correctly, is so important if you're going to start playing around with temperature levels and hold times.

If you cook the breast to a more pleasant to eat, juicer temperature of 66°C (150°F) and hold it that temp for 3.7 minutes, then the meat will be just as safe to eat as if it were cooked to 74°C. If you drop the temperature to 63°C, you have to hold the meat at that temperature for 10.8 minutes for it to be pasteurised.

If you were to take it to the extreme, you could heat the chicken to just 58°C (136°F) and as long as you hold that internal temperature for 65.3 minutes, the meat should be safe to eat... the texture on the other hand wouldn't suit most tastes.

One other thing to bare in mind about hold times is that the the higher the temperature and the shorter the hold time, the less opportunity there is to the mistake of not maintaining the correct temperature for long enough. The last thing you want to do is end up making yourself or someone else ill.

So to answer your question of, what temperature you should cook your chicken skewers to. My personal recommendation, based on the experience several years of using Kenji's article as a guide to my poultry cooking. Is that to begin with, you should aim for an internal temperature of around 68°C for breasts, and 76°C for dark meat. These temperatures factor in some lag between the meat reaching the desired temperature, and you actually taking a temperature reading, as well as some carry over cooking, and some resting time as you serve the meat... Unless you just hold the skewer above your head, and just scrape the meat directly into your mouth which, as I keep telling my wife, is a totally normal thing to do at the company barbecue.

As you get more familiar with the cook, hold, measure process, and you trust that you can do it safely. You can start to play with lowering the internal temperature and increasing the hold time.

One last thing to note, is that all of the above is based upon the assumption that your thermometer is accurate and that you use it correctly (i.e. measure the correct part of the meat, for the correct amount of time).

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