Food & Nutrition

8 Mistakes You Might Be Making with Raw Chicken

There’s a reason “tastes like chicken” is such a popular phrase. Most home cooks reach for boneless, skinless chicken breast for just about any meal. Chicken is cheap, plentiful, and pairs with nearly anything. But it’s important to remember to take heed when preparing this bird. Raw chicken can be harmful if it’s not handled with care. Cook your next chicken dinner safely by avoiding these common mistakes.

Leaving chicken out too long

8 Mistakes You Might Be Making with Raw ChickenNatasha Breen/Shutterstock

Many cooks will put chicken out on the counter to thaw, then promptly forget about it. But it’s important to treat chicken as an item with a time stamp. At room temperature, meat can begin to develop harmful bacteria, which if consumed may result in various foodborne illnessess—aka food poisoning.

What to do instead: Place chicken in the fridge immediately after you’ve finished shopping. Only take it out when you are prepared to cook. If the chicken is frozen, thaw it in the fridge up to two days before cooking. When it comes to red meat, avoid these ten mistakes everyone makes when cooking steak.

Storing it improperly

Different types of raw chicken meat in plastic boxesbitt24/Shutterstock

Think your meat can stay on any shelf in the fridge? Think again. Chicken juice has a tendency to leak and drip outside of its container. This can mean bad news (contamination) if it comes into contact with your produce.

What to do instead: Place chicken on a plate, then cover and store on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Surprised? See what other foods you may be storing wrong.

Rinsing chicken before you cook


Contrary to popular opinion, raw chicken doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) rinsed in any way. Rinsing can cause bacteria on the chicken to splash and cling to surrounding surfaces, rather than eliminating them from the chicken. Learn more about why you should never wash raw chicken.

What to do instead: Skip the wash. Send your chicken straight to the frying pan…or oven…or slow cooker.

Marinating it improperly

Seasoning chicken legs with rosemary on an old tableShaiith/Shutterstock

Chicken tastes delicious with a zesty marinade. In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to tenderize the meat. However, leaving chicken on the counter to marinate can take your dinner from delicious to dangerous, as bacteria can grow better when it’s warm. And though it may seem thrifty, never reuse marinade after it’s come into contact with raw meat.

What to do instead: Marinate your chicken in a plastic bag (or other closed container) in the refrigerator. Toss the juices in the container when you are done.

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