Here in the UK, supermarket chicken and other meat cuts are infused with water to bulk them up prior to sale.

So, when frying or browning the meat, I often end up half boiling it from all the water that comes out and I end up having to spoon the excess water out of the pan (along with a lot of flavour) so I'm able to carry on with the stir-fry/browning.

Aside from simply buying more expensive (water free) meat or smothering in salt, is there any way of getting rid of this water before cooking?

  • 2
    "Aside from simply buying more expensive (water free) meat" Why is that not an option? I don't know the exact pricing but one of the reasons it's more expensive is probably because you're actually buying more meat per pound, and no added water. So the actual price difference may not be as great as it appears in the per-pound price.
    – Dan C
    Dec 21, 2016 at 14:20
  • @DanC - Yes, if I were buying the meat for a specific purpose, then this is what I'd do. However, my partner often does the shopping and she often chooses the economical option...
    – user51717
    Dec 21, 2016 at 14:22

3 Answers 3


You can salt the chicken a few hours or a day in advance of cooking it (you don't need a lot of salt, just whatever you'd normally use to properly season it), and store it uncovered in the refrigerator on a small rack over a plate. The salt will draw moisture to the surface of the meat, and leaving it open to the fridge will allow some evaporation to occur. This is sometimes called "dry-brining". That should help but I don't think it will ever get the meat to the point it would be if the water had never been added in the first place.

Another thing to consider is the type of pan you're cooking in. A frying pan with short, flared sides will allow more evaporation to occur during cooking than a pan with taller, straight sides. Also, don't crowd the pan: make sure that there is empty space around each piece of chicken to allow as much evaporation as possible.


From this article on my site:

Water Content of Meat and Poultry

The amount of naturally occurring water, or moisture, present in meat and poultry may surprise consumers. An eye of round roast is 73% water before cooking. The same roast after roasting contains 65% water. A whole broiler-fryer contains 66% water before cooking and 60% afterwards. Leaner meat and poultry contain more protein and less fat. Since water is a component of protein (but not fat), a leaner cut will contain slightly more water on a per weight basis.

Chicken is listed at 66-69% raw and 59-61% cooked.

So with all that in mind, how do you go about cooking a nice brown crispy on the outside and tender and succulent on the inside piece of chicken without accidentally boiling it in it's own juices.

First, as was stated in the other answer, consider the type of pan that you are using, a wide shallow sided skillet is great, however, depending upon what you are then going to do with the product, and how much washing up you want to do, then a large based pan will also do. Consider the type of oil/fat that you are using, and the temperature at which you are cooking.

A good quality olive oil is a must for most dishes. Put your pan on a nearly high setting, too high and you will burn not only your product but also change the nature of the oil that you are using. Pat your product dry with kitchen towel then place in the pan. Resist the temptation to flatten the item or turn too quickly, food does not like to be beaten up, be gentle with it. You may need to to 'unstick' your item from the bottom of the pan, if so, also turn your pan down a touch. After a couple of mins, turn the item over. That should do the trick.

  • 1
    Of course meat is made up of mostly water, but that water is securely bound in the cytoplasm and only small amounts come out gradually while cooking. This is independent of water which got pumped into the meat after slaughtering, it is not "part" of the meat and flows out at the merest provocation, making the meat behave much different from the pan. And that was what the question was about. So I have difficulty understanding how your answer is related to that situation - it starts with discussing the meat's natural moisture content and continues discussing pans and oils (cont.)
    – rumtscho
    Dec 22, 2016 at 13:20
  • (cont.) without mentioning how to do anything about removing the added water. I will wait to see what others say and not remove the post myself, but it is very much bordering on being a nonanswer.
    – rumtscho
    Dec 22, 2016 at 13:21
  • I think someone got out of bed the wrong side this morning, and to be honest there is no need to be so rude. It is very easy to simply blame the supermarkets for the amount of water that is added to a product, and is should tell you on the packaging. Thus, having got your product home, taking it out of the packaging should really let a lot of the sluid drain away. Placing it on kitchen paper will also help with this, as will patting it dry with kitchen paper before cooking it, which I think I included in my initial answer.
    – Hoooray
    Dec 22, 2016 at 13:40
  • 1
    I am just trying to explain the problems with your post here - it is very long, but most of it does not address the question. If you believe that patting it with kitchen towels is sufficient to get rid of the supermarket-added water, then this indeed makes your post meet the criteria for an answer, but it is very difficult to find it among the other unrelated stuff. It would be much improved if you deleted most of it and only left the part which tells the reader the information they came here for - how to get rid of added water.
    – rumtscho
    Dec 22, 2016 at 13:44
  • Trying to help you out with the editing here. It's important to disclose your affiliation with sites you link to, to avoid linking to those sites except when it directly helps answer a question, and to clearly indicate what you're quoting (even if you wrote the original).
    – Cascabel
    Dec 23, 2016 at 16:36

Many of the Asian recipes I use start with putting a small amount of sugar and lettig it sit. Then rinse and part dry. A lot of fluid does come out, and the residual sugar on the meat facilitates Browning.

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