A reliable food thermometer is the best way to determine that a roast chicken is done, and there are many varieties to choose from, including microwave and conventional oven probes, meat thermometers with dials, digital thermometers, and instant-read thermometers.
Tips On Using a Food Thermometer
- According to the USDA, chicken must be cooked to the minimum safe temperature of 165 F (73.9 C) (all parts). You may choose to cook it to reach a higher temperature.
- Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of a thigh, but not touching bone or gristle.
- Check the chicken near the end of the cooking time, before the estimated time you expect the roast to be done.
- If the chicken is stuffed, the stuffing must reach at least 165 F (73.9 C). Even if the chicken meat registers 165 F (73.9 C) or more, continue cooking the chicken until the stuffing is done. To check, insert the thermometer into the center of the stuffing.
- If you are roasting chicken parts, insert the thermometer into the thickest parts without touching bone. Chicken parts are irregularly shaped, so check the temperature in several pieces.
- Clean your food thermometer after each use with hot, soapy water.
Estimated Times for Roasting Whole Chickens
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds—400 F (200 C/Gas 6)—45 minutes to 1 hour.
- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds—400 F (200 C/Gas 6)—1 to 1 1/4 hours.
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds—375 F (190 C/Gas 5)—1 1/4 to ` 3/4 hours.
- 3 to 4 pounds—375 F (190 C/Gas 5)—1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours.
- 5 to 8 pounds—375 F (190 C/Gas 5)—about 20 minutes per pound plus about 15 minutes standing time.
Safety Guidelines for Leftovers
- The "danger zone" for food is between 40 F (4.44 C) and 140 F (60 C). Bacteria can grow rapidly between those temperatures. Leftovers must be refrigerated within 2 hours of taking it from the heat source or refrigerator. If the temperature is above 90 F, cold dishes must be refrigerated within 1 hour.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers so it will cool quickly.
- It's important to keep hot food above 140 F (60 C) if you must keep it warm for any length of time (such as a buffet). Use a chafing dish, slow cooker, or warming tray to keep food above 140 F (60 C).
- Nestle containers with cold food, such as salads, in containers with ice, to keep it at or below 40 F (4.44 C).