How Long Does It Take To Bake Chicken (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 Hours

Chicken is one of the most popular and versatile ingredients in any pantry. Not only does it pack a considerable amount of lean protein in a single serving, but it also does not contain much fat, which makes it a household favorite.

People have the assumption that cooking chicken is easy. However, that is not the case. It is a well-known fact that professional chefs can prepare chicken better than any home cook. Chefs are experts who know how to select and prepare ingredients, follow each recipe, and, more importantly, how long to cook the chicken perfectly.

The cooking time for chicken depends on two things, the temperature and part of the chicken cooked. The higher the temperature it is cooked at, the lesser the time it will take. However, cooking chicken at high temperatures may make it dry and chewy.

How Long Does It Take To Bake Chicken?

Type Of ChickenTime Required At 350°F Or 177˚C
Breast halves, boneless20 to 30 minutes
Thighs, boneless15 to 20 minutes
Thighs, bone-in25 to 30 minutes
Drumsticks20 to 25 minutes
Wings20 to 40 minutes
Whole chicken2 hours

The cooking time of a chicken varies with different parts. Dark meat like the legs takes longer to cook, while white meat, like the breasts or wings, cooks quickly. Another contributing factor is the presence or absence of bones in the section chosen.

A chicken breast will take 20-30 minutes to cook in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven. Cook the meat till the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The cooking time of chicken thighs depends on the presence of a bone. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs cook in 12-20 minutes, while bone-in thighs take longer, somewhere between 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thighs is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The barbecue favorite, drumsticks, take 20-25 minutes to cook in a 350-degree oven. Wings cook thoroughly in 20-40 minutes. One must flip the meat halfway to ensure even cooking.

When cooking a chicken whole, one must calculate the time as 20 minutes per pound and an additional 10-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. As a whole chicken weighs 2.5 kg, it will take around two hours to roast the complete bird.

Why Does It Take So Long To Bake Chicken?

Chickens have two different kinds of meat- dark and white meat. Muscles used for prolonged exercise are composed of red fibers, hence giving it the name dark meat. These active muscles consume a high amount of oxygen and so they are rich in iron. They also contain high-fat content. Muscles that are not as active are composed of white fibers, which are naturally leaner.

Tough dark meat like the legs needs more cooking time to tenderize. During the cooking process, collagen, a connective tissue, will liquefy and convert into gelatin. This process requires high temperatures. Hence, the meat is cooked for longer to reach these temperatures. The extra fat present melts when exposed to heat, keeping the dark chicken meat juicy.

In contrast, white meat like the breast and wings is tender and contains less connective tissue. Therefore it cooks faster.

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Whole or bone-in chicken takes longer to cook than boneless pieces due to how the heat radiates throughout the meat. A boneless, skinless breast has no bones to conduct heat and no skin to retain moisture. Therefore, it cooks faster.

One must not overcook the chicken meat. Overcooking the dark meat can result in less tender meat as collagen fibers shrink during the cooking process, resulting in fluid loss. In addition, overcooking white meat makes it dry.

Conclusion

The secret to cooking a tender and juicy chicken lies in the cooking time. Baking the chicken for too long can result in dry and chewy meat. Whereas, not cooking the poultry long enough can leave the chicken raw, which can be detrimental to health.

Moreover, it is imperative to understand that the cooking time is inversely proportional to the temperature. Therefore, monitoring the temperature and time go hand in hand when preparing a delicious chicken meal.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1080744615314972
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643804002816
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