Why You Shouldn't Cook Raw Chicken Straight From The Fridge

Few things can beat a perfectly made chicken. Whether you're trying to cook a juicy chicken breast or aiming for the crispiest oven-roasted chicken, there are several tips you should follow to turn your raw poultry into a delectable masterpiece. In fact, many home cooks make the common mistake of cooking raw chicken straight out of the fridge. While this oversight might seem minimal compared to other crucial prep steps, such as seasoning, letting your chicken sit in the kitchen for a few minutes could prevent you from ending up with undercooked food.

Because the interior of meats like chicken takes a bit longer to warm up than their exterior, cooking chicken that has just left the refrigerator tends to lead to an overdone surface with a fleshy inside that should not be eaten. To be clear, you certainly don't want to leave raw poultry out on the counter for hours. According to the USDA, leaving food out for too long will promote bacterial growth that could cause foodborne illness. Leaving your chicken out in the open for less than 15 minutes as you prepare to dry and season it, however, will ensure you have the best chances of creating food that will be tasty and evenly cooked all the way through.

Sanitize your station to prevent cross-contamination

As you let your raw chicken warm up in your kitchen prior to cooking, remember to handle it properly. Ideally, you'll let it sit in the container you were storing it in to minimize the chances of cross-contamination. The bacteria on the surface of uncooked poultry could easily transfer to your other food items or kitchenware that has come into contact with the raw chicken. For this reason, when it comes time to prepare it, you'll want to keep uncooked meat on a separate cutting board, away from the rest of your ingredients.

In the same vein, wash your hands immediately after handling raw chicken. To minimize the chances of accidentally spreading disease-causing agents on surfaces in your kitchen, it's advisable to handle uncooked poultry with only one hand. This approach allows you to reach for other objects in the kitchen, such as the sink faucet, without contaminating them, enabling thorough hand washing. Additionally, you should never continue to use utensils that have touched raw chicken without cleaning them first.

Store your raw chicken properly before using

Before even beginning to handle raw chicken, you must ensure that your poultry has not spoiled during storage. According to the USDA, raw chicken can be stored in your refrigerator for up to two days. Storing it for any longer could put you at risk of food poisoning, so it's advisable to plan to cook your chicken sooner rather than later. When shopping for raw chicken, look for its expiration date, and discard anything that appears gooey or discolored.

When storing your raw chicken in the fridge, try to place it in the back in a sealable container. This ensures that any leakage remains contained and away from your ready-to-eat food. If you don't get around to cooking your raw chicken within the two-day timeframe, feel free to freeze it for a month or two. If you're not a fan of the lengthy thawing process, it is possible to safely cook frozen chicken without thawing, but keep in mind that this will significantly extend its cooking time.