How to Tell if Chicken is Undercooked: A Comprehensive Guide for Home Cooks

how to tell if chicken is undercooked

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As a passionate griller, smoker, and barbecuer, I understand that properly cooked chicken is essential. Investing many hours in perfecting my barbecue methods – from experimenting with flavorsome rubs to testing different cooking techniques – has taught me the importance of avoiding undercooked poultry.

Not only does undercooked chicken taste bad, but it can also be dangerous to your health. I am dedicated to offering my loved ones and guests delectable dishes with robust flavors, so I always ensure that my poultry is cooked thoroughly!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How can you tell if the chicken is undercooked?
  • What does an undercooked chicken look like?
  • What happens if you eat undercooked chicken?
  • And more!

Ready to cook the perfect chicken every time? In this guide, I’m sharing with you my tricks for how to tell if chicken is undercooked. No matter how much experience you have in the kitchen, these tips will give you all the knowledge and assurance necessary to serve a delicious meal! So grab your thermometer, and let’s grill – it will be good!

How to Tell if Chicken is Undercooked?

If you want to keep yourself safe, chicken must be cooked all the way through. Eating undercooked poultry can cause illness due to potential bacteria like salmonella; however, there are multiple methods for verifying if your chicken has been thoroughly cooked.

grilling chicken thighs
  • Use a Meat Thermometer: If you want to ensure your meat is cooked through, you can’t go wrong meat thermometer. Slide the thermometer into the bird’s heftiest section, ensuring it does not reach any bones. As per USDA recommendations, cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • Visual Cues: To determine whether your chicken is cooked through, inspect its appearance. If it’s properly done, the flesh should be uniformly opaque — with no pink or red spots in sight. However, if you see any rosy hues or juices pooling on the plate, then it’s probably not quite finished cooking yet!
  • Texture: To ensure that your chicken is cooked properly, the texture of it can be a hint. If it feels soft and squishy, then you know the meat isn’t done; however, if it is firm and springs back upon touch, this indicates perfect doneness!
  • Color: As your chicken cooks, you’ll be able to tell if it’s done by its color. From pink to white, the chicken’s hue will shift until it’s completely cooked – juices running clear and a slightly browned or fully white exterior – indicating doneness. However, slightly pinkish doesn’t necessarily mean the meat is raw.

It’s noteworthy that some methods, such as examining the color of chicken, may not be as reliable compared to using a meat thermometer. Additionally, distinct cuts of chicken can have varying textures and colors; thus, it’s essential to use various techniques to make sure the poultry is cooked through completely.

What Does Undercooked Chicken Look Like?

raw chicken thighs

To ensure your chicken is cooked properly, you’ll want to pay attention to the following visual cues:

  • Raw Appearance: Uncooked chicken will have an unmistakable rawness. It may be rosy in color, and some areas close to the bone can even appear flushed with a red tinge. The meat may also appear shiny and moist.
  • Texture Differences: The texture of an undercooked chicken will be notably different from cooked chicken. It will feel mushy and possibly even slimy, while a correctly cooked piece should appear firm and springy to the touch.
  • Differences in Different Cuts of Chicken: Don’t be fooled by the varying appearance of different cuts when cooking chicken. The meat around the bone might appear pinkish, while other parts may look cooked; however, verifying that all portions are thoroughly cooked through and have reached their internal temperature by testing the thickest part of the poultry is vital.

When preparing smoked chicken, a rosy ring of color around the meat’s edges is not unusual. This hue is known as the smoke ring, and it appears due to a chemical reaction occurring between myoglobin protein in the meat and smoke particles. Despite its pinkish shade, don’t be fooled – this does not indicate that your meal has been cooked inadequately!

Not only does smoking chicken thoroughly cook the meat, but it also gives off a pinkish color caused by the smoke interacting with the poultry. Additionally, having this “smoke ring” is actually viewed as an indication of high quality in smoked meats for many barbecuers and even seasoned cooks who strive to get this effective outcome from their cooking.

It’s essential to understand that the hue of chicken can be affected depending on the marinade or seasoning used and the cooking technique. Therefore, it is critical to utilize multiple techniques, such as using a meat thermometer and checking its internal temperature when verifying if the poultry has been fully cooked.

What Does Undercooked Chicken Taste Like?

raw chicken meat

Depending on how thoroughly it’s cooked and what preparation techniques are employed, undercooked chicken can take on a variety of different flavors. Here are some you may encounter:

  1. Stronger Chicken Flavor: An undercooked chicken will have a stronger chicken flavor than a fully cooked chicken. This is because the chicken’s natural flavors are concentrated in the juices that haven’t been cooked off yet.
  2. Chewy and Tough Texture: If you consume chicken that hasn’t been properly cooked, it will be chewy and unappetizing. This is because the heat has not broken down the proteins in the meat enough to make it tender and juicy.
  3. Raw or Metallic Taste: Not sufficiently cooking the chicken could result in an unpleasant raw or metallic taste. This is due to the bacteria present in the poultry, which will tamper with its flavor.
  4. Other Taste Differences: Undercooked chicken can have a bland taste or an unexpected sweetness. Additionally, you may experience an odd aftertaste of the meat and have a strange feeling in your mouth afterward.

It’s essential to be aware that if you detect the taste of uncooked chicken, do not consume it further. Eating undercooked poultry can result in food-related illnesses and ailments, ranging from gentle to serious cases. Therefore, immediately stop eating when you sense any trace of raw chicken!

What Happens if You Eat Undercooked Chicken?

Eating undercooked chicken poses a serious risk to your health and can lead to food poisoning. Here are a few of the potential consequences if you consume uncooked poultry:

  • Salmonella Infection: Raw chicken can transmit dangerous bacteria, such as Salmonella, that results in food poisoning. If the poultry is not cooked to an adequate temperature, these microbes will survive and cause various symptoms, including fever, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort – lasting up to seven days.
  • Campylobacter Infection: Another bacterium found in undercooked chicken is Campylobacter, which can instigate a range of symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and intestinal cramps. In extreme cases, it might lead to dehydration or even paralysis – so be sure your poultry is properly cooked!
  • Clostridium Perfringens Infection: Clostridium perfringens can be found in improperly cooked or stored chicken, and it can cause a range of adverse effects – from diarrhea to painful abdominal cramps. Without the proper care, these symptoms may lead to dehydration.
  • Other Health Risks: Consuming undercooked chicken can be extremely hazardous, as it may contain a plethora of bacteria or parasites like E. coli and tapeworms. This could lead to stomach irritation, nausea, and vomiting if ingested.

To keep your family safe from health risks, cooking chicken thoroughly is essential – the USDA recommends that its internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Utilize a meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the chicken, away from any bones. It is also imperative to practice food safety protocols such as frequently washing hands and kitchen surfaces and storing poultry at an optimal temperature.

How Soon After Eating Undercooked Chicken Will I Get Sick?

Have you consumed undercooked chicken? Worrying about when the symptoms may manifest is understandable. It all depends on multiple elements, including how much bacteria was in the poultry as well as your body’s immune system.

Consuming undercooked chicken often leads to foodborne illness symptoms that can surface within two to six hours post-consumption (depending on the type of bacteria), including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. In some cases where vulnerability is increased – such as in children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems – more severe complications like dehydration or organ failure could transpire.

If you experience any symptoms of foodborne illness after consuming undercooked chicken, it’s important to seek medical attention. To ensure your health and well-being, practice safe food handling and cooking procedures regularly – this way, you can enjoy scrumptious chicken without compromising your safety. By following the proper rules for hygiene in meal preparation and cooking practices, delicious meals are just a few steps away!

Can You Fix Undercooked Chicken?

If you observe that your chicken is undercooked and has been freshly removed from the heat source, don’t worry! Simply put the chicken back on the heat until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to fix this issue.

grilling undercooked chicken

However, if too much time passes between noticing and fixing – meaning more than a few hours after taking it off – then I advise against trying to salvage it as there’s no way to know how long it’s been exposed or contaminated for safety reasons.

With temperatures ranging from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria can spread quickly, so it’s pivotal to store food safely and away from this hazardous range. Leaving the meat at room temperature for over two hours increases the likelihood of bacterial development. It could lead to food-borne illnesses, so if you’re ever uncertain whether your chicken is safe or not – it is better to discard it. By adhering to secure cooking and handling tactics, however, you can guarantee that your poultry will be delectable and hygienic.



To avert food poisoning and guarantee that your chicken is edible, preparing the poultry to a safe temperature is essential. While cooking chicken, you should utilize both visual cues, such as the hue and texture of the meat, along with other means, like using a thermometer, to ensure that your dish has been cooked through.

If chicken hasn’t been cooked thoroughly, it can have an unpleasant texture and feel slimy or sticky. Eating undercooked poultry could expose you to serious health risks such as Salmonella or Campylobacter infections and other hazardous bacterial and parasitic illnesses.

As a passionate barbecue enthusiast who has cooked and smoked chicken multiple times, I cannot underscore the importance of thoroughly preparing it. Taking chances with undercooked poultry can lead to serious medical concerns – don’t let that be you! However, savory yet safe chicken is just one session away with correct cooking techniques and food hygiene practices.


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Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

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