How To Tell If Chicken Is Cooked Without A Thermometer

Chicken meat is a very diverse ingredient. You can serve it as a stand-alone dish when grilled, stewed, fried, or roasted. Some parts of the chicken are also perfect for pies, sandwiches, and other quick snacks. But how do you tell it’s cooked to a safe temperature without a thermometer?

How To Tell If Chicken Is Cooked Without A Thermometer?

Things that will help you determine doneness are cooking duration, the color of chicken meat, texture, and the juice of chicken meat. The methods of telling if the chicken is properly cooked without a thermometer vary depending on the cooking method.

how to tell if chicken is cooked without a thermometer

Regardless of whether you’re grilling, frying, or baking chicken in the oven, you’ll know how to tell when it’s safe to eat. All chicken should be cooked to a safe eating temperature of 165°F, but how do you know when it’s ready when you don’t have a thermometer?

How To Tell If Fried Chicken Is Cooked Properly?

Frying chicken is an easy task. Some experienced cooks make the mistake of cooking a fried chicken to a golden brown color on the outside. Only to find out that it’s still bloody on the inside. A common reason is scalding cooking oil, which results in the excessive quick browning of the skin.

But note that the different parts of a chicken have specific cooking length. 

With that being said, if you’re frying chicken, you can use the time to determine if it’s cooked.

Here’s a quick glance of the cooking time of the chicken’s individual parts when fried:

  • Chicken breast is fully cooked after 20 minutes (medium heat)
  • Wings are fully cooked after 15 minutes (medium heat)
  • Drumsticks are fully cooked after 18 minutes (medium heat)
  • Chicken thighs are fully cooked after 15 minutes (medium heat)
  • A whole chicken can several hours to cook. Whether you’re cooking beer can chicken, or just a seasoned whole chicken, the times will vary.

By the way, cooking duration also works if you’re roasting the chicken whole in a traditional oven or an electric oven. 

The whole chicken cooks for 20 minutes or even longer, depending on its weight and size in ovens. This is also true if you put fancy stuffing on the roasted chicken such as prawns, shrimp, sliced crabs, _chorizo, etc. _

How to Tell If Chicken Drumsticks Are Done?

how to tell if chicken drumsticks are done
Use a paring knife to cut into around the bone to see if the meat is white.

I love grilling chicken drumsticks on the grill because the PitBoss gives them a great smoky flavor. The best way to tell when drumsticks are done, is to pierce the bone with a knife. 

When the juices run clear, the meat is ready to eat. The cooking time will vary depending on the method you’re cooking. Chicken drumsticks will take approximately 35-45 minutes on a grill. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the drumsticks and the type of grill. 

How To Tell If Chicken Breasts Are Cooked Completely?

The easiest way to tell if chicken breasts are cooked thoroughly is to cut into the meat with a knife. If the inside is reddish-pink or has pink hues in the white, it needs to be put back on the grill. When the meat is completely white with clear juices, it is fully cooked.

The downside to this method is that it can cause your chicken to become dry, especially if you cut into it too soon after pulling it off the grill. 

If you don’t want to cut into your hot chicken, then use the size test. The meat will shrink about 25% when cooked. If your chicken has grill marks and looks the same size as it did when it was raw, it likely needs more time on the grill. 

Cooking Stewed Meat Without A Thermometer

Have you tried stewing a chicken before? Chicken meat suitable for stewing is firm and doesn’t easily get emaciated with the heat from the hotpot or the crackpot. You can’t use cooking duration for determining because you also have to take the softness of the chicken meat into account.

What I’m saying is that you might fall into the trap of having a cooked, stewed chicken but is still rubbery and not suitable for eating.

You can determine if the stewed chicken is cooked or not by using the texture or joint test. When you twist a specific part of the chicken where the joints are found, the joint test is like the wings, for example. The chicken is cooked if the joint can be twisted easily with a fork and spoon, that means it is done. If not, let the chicken simmer for a few minutes more.

On the other hand, the texture test is handy for telling if the breast, back, thighs, and other meaty portions are fully cooked via stewing. To do this, get one part and cut it with a spoon. If the spoon easily goes through, then the rest of the chicken stew is ready for serving.

But what if the chicken is rubbery? Can chicken meat be rubbery? The answer is yes. What I taught you works if you’re stewing organic chickens. Organic chickens have firmer meat than hybrid chickens as these follow a diet composed of grains and not commercial growth-boosting pellets.

How to Tell If Grilled Chicken Is Fully Cooked

Grilling a chicken can be quite intimidating for beginners. There are many factors to consider while cooking, such as the heat of the grill, the duration of cooking, and the thickness of chicken meat. To determine if the grilled chicken is fully cooked, use the “juice test.”

Chicken gives out oil when grilled, and this is what the juice test is all about. When not cooked yet, the natural oil slowly emerges on the top of the chicken meat, and blood accompanies it.

But when the chicken is fully cooked on the grill, the juice will have a brown transparent color. No blood accompanies it. As you continue cooking, the chicken will start to become dry up until the point that it gets burnt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Slightly Undercooked Chicken Ok?

No, eating undercooked chicken can cause food poisoning. According to Jennifer L. Bonheur, MD gastroenterologist, raw chicken can contain harmful bacteria, as well as clostridium and salmonella. These food-born pathogens can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, as well as abdominal cramps. 


A thermometer is a helpful tool for cooking chicken. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t cook chicken without it. You can tell if a chicken is cooked without a thermometer with the methods discussed above. 

Regardless of whether you’re cooking chicken in the oven, convection oven, or outside on the grill, it’s vital to ensure it’s cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F. 

Like anything else, it takes a lot of practice and time before you can eyeball chicken to know when it’s ready to eat. Use any of the methods above to help you determine when your chicken is fully cooked.

If you’re not comfortable grilling without a thermometer, then check out some of the best thermometers for grilling that will help you and your family stay safe!

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