With hundreds of chicken recipes on my site, I get asked a lot of questions about chicken. One thing that always comes up is how to clean chicken.
There are several washing methods for chicken that have recently gained popularity online, so it’s a great question and I think the answer might surprise you.
Are You Supposed to Wash chicken?
We wash our fruits and veggies, so it feels like we should do the same with raw chicken and poultry, right? Nope!
In fact, according to the CDC, washing chicken spreads raw chicken juices all around your kitchen contaminating it. YIKES. You definitely don’t want to run your chicken under the faucet to clean it before cooking.
If washing chicken is out – what should you do?
Great question! Be sure to cook chicken properly to an internal temperature of 165F for white meat and 175F for dark meat. When checking doneness, insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken, which takes the longest to cook.
Unlike rinsing or washing, these high temperatures will take care of the pathogens on raw chicken.
I go into detail about the best chicken cooking methods and what you need to know in this video.
Washing Chicken: Popular Methods & What to Do Instead
When talking about how to clean chicken breasts, chicken wings, or other bird pieces, there are four main methods that are always mentioned.
Since we know that cooking chicken safety is more about temperature than it is washing, let’s go over these methods and see which ones might still be useful for other reasons.
Using an acid like vinegar to wash chicken is unnecessary since it doesn’t kill any bacteria. Instead, use it in a vinaigrette based marinade to tenderize and add flavor to the meat. I often use my Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette as a marinade and it is EPIC.
Similar to vinegar, lemon juice is often paired with water to wash chicken. This practice will add a little bit of flavor and help with tenderizing, but there is a better way.
Get flavorful, juicy chicken marinating it in a lemon juice-based marinade like the Lemon Oregano vinaigrette used in this recipe. It’s been a favorite go-to of mine for flavoring grilled and pan sauteéd chicken.
This method involves seasoning the meat with a generous amount of salt and citrus, then adding water and soaking for 30 minutes. It is said to exfoliate chicken and while this sounds impressive, it’s not entirely necessary.
If you want to take advantage of flavoring the chicken go ahead and rub a generous amount of salt along with herbs and spices into the skin of the chicken and allow to marinate 30 minutes or overnight. My Taco Seasoning doubles as an excellent rub!
Before I lose you, hear this out! While using baking soda sounds like you are about to deep clean, it can actually be useful in making incredibly tender chicken!
This process is called ‘velveting’ and it’s what Asian restaurants have the best chicken, beef, and pork stir-fries because they velvet the meat.
Try this method by
- Adding 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda to each pound of sliced boneless, skinless chicken. Toss to coat and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Rinse well in a colander or strainer and shake off the excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Cook as directed in a stir-fry or Healthy Teriyaki Chicken.
It’s important to keep in mind that this trick works best with thinly sliced meat and not a whole chicken breast or thigh. The baking soda will tenderize the outside but not the center.
Chicken Recipes for Dinner Tonight
Chances are if you’re curious how to clean chicken, then you have a pound or two to cook up, and I’ve got 55 chicken dinner ideas you can try tonight!
Everything from white to dark meat and Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Tacos to Mediterranean Chicken Bowls– there’s a recipe for everyone. To get you started, here are some of my favorites from that selection:
Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Chicken
A low-carb take on chicken pasta, that minimizes carb but none of the flavor! Did I mention the delicious garlic butter sauce? So good!
Recipe: Chicken Stew
Made with vegetables, chicken, broth, and a touch of cream, this chicken stew is the kind of comfort food that makes you feel good.
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken
Make a large batch in your slow cooker and use it throughout the week for tacos, quesadillas, power bowls, and pizza!
Now that you know the details on how NOT to wash chicken – I’d love to help you with any more chicken or cooking questions that you might have. Let me know what you’ve been wondering about in the comments and I’ll be happy to help.