How to Tell if Fried Chicken is Done

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Fried chicken is a staple food to many. It is a common mistake to have fried chicken with golden brown skin while still being bloody inside. How to tell if fried chicken is done?

How do you know when to stop frying your chicken? There are a few ways you can use to know for sure that your fried chicken is fully cooked and ready to be enjoyed. A properly cooked fried chicken makes sure all bacteria in it is killed.

You must be frying chicken at temperatures between 300°F and 325°F to ensure a deep golden brown color on the outside and no bloody portions on the inside. How to tell if fried chicken is done?

Use a Food Thermometer

A special meat thermometer is a good way to know when to stop frying and have properly cooked fried chicken inside and out.

A good technique in frying chicken is to turn it every 1-2 minutes. You should also maintain heat at a steady 300° – 325° until the skin of the chicken turns deep golden brown.

If you are frying chicken wings, check the temperature after frying them for 10 minutes. If you are frying chicken breast, legs, or thighs, check the temperature after 12 minutes.

The crust of your chicken may break when you insert the food thermometer. It is better, though, to have broken crusts than an undercooked chicken. The internal temperature of your fried chicken pieces should have a reading of at least 165°.

You can also use this guide to check the doneness of your fried chicken based on internal temperatures:

  • Breast area (whole chicken) – 170° – 175°F
  • Thigh area (whole chicken) – 175° – 180°F
  • Thighs and Drumstick (dark meat) – 180°F
  • Chicken Wings and Breast (white meat) – 170° – 175°F

The color of your fried chicken does not mean doneness. Fully cooked fried chicken can sometimes show some pinkness in its juices and meat while being fully cooked.

Check Doneness by Cooking Duration

Being conscious of cooking times is another way on how to tell if fried chicken is done. Cooking times are based on oil temperature of 350°F and cooked at medium heat.

  • Fried drumsticks – 18 minutes
  • Fried chicken wings – 15 minutes
  • Fried chicken breast – 20 minutes
  • Fried chicken thighs – 15 minutes

After frying chicken in the recommended duration, the chicken pieces should have a deep golden color. Cutting into the thickest part of the chicken pieces, its meat should appear opaque and its juices should also run clear.

Check the Color of the Chicken

Checking on the color of the fried chicken is the easiest way to check for doneness. A deep golden brown skin does not necessarily mean your chicken is fully cooked.

You will need to also check the internal portion of the chicken by cutting into its meat. A fully-cooked fried chicken will have white-colored meat.

In some instances, the meat closer to the bone will remain pinkish. It does not necessarily mean your chicken is undercooked. The thicker cuts of the meat should be a solid white color when you cut it in half.

Naturally, the meat close to the bone will have pink spots even when fully cooked because the hemoglobin in the blood will never disappear even if you overcook your fried chicken. In this state, your fried chicken is fully-cooked even if it looks under-fried.

Check the Juices

Checking the color of the juice that comes out of your fried chicken is one of the simplest ways to check for doneness. Pierce your chicken at its thickest part. Observe the color of the juice that leaks out of the cut.

Your fried chicken is fully-cooked when you pierce it with a fork or the tip of the paring knife and its juices run clear. Its meat should also no longer be pink.

If the juice that pours out is pink, you still need to cook your chicken a lot more or a little more. The pink-colored juice is the blood of the chicken that needs to be further cooked down.

Take Note of the Size

What if you do not have a food thermometer and do not like to cut into your fried chicken to check for doneness? You can do the size test. The meat of your chicken will typically shrink by about 25% when fully cooked.

Why does chicken shrink when cooked? Chicken skin consists of fat, protein, and water. When cooked in high temperatures, the fats slowly leak out of the chicken, the proteins tighten, and water evaporates causing the chicken to shrink.

You can reduce shrinkage by cooking fried chicken in low heat.

Chicken Floats

It is good to pierce your chicken pieces with a fork to allow hot oil to penetrate its flesh. This will allow the oil to heat evenly and maintain a constant temperature.

When frying chicken, its water content is cooked out of it and converted into steam that in turn escapes from the chicken. This makes the chicken lighter, allowing it to float when it is fully cooked.


Raw chicken carries bacteria that can cause food poisoning. In the same manner, undercooked fried chicken may also cause food poisoning. Besides, it is never pleasurable to eat undercooked fried chicken.

All the methods shown above are effective in checking the doneness of your fried chicken. Many will say, though, that using a food thermometer is the fastest and easiest method to use.

Do you have other techniques on how to tell if fried chicken is done? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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