Having people over for dinner is a wonderful way to show off your culinary skills and catch up with your friends. Unfortunately, it’s not so great when your guests bite into their roast chicken and have to chew it for at least 5 minutes before they can swallow it. You followed the recipe to the letter, which begs the question…
Why is my chicken rubbery? A few factors can cause rubbery chicken, such as buying poor quality chicken meat or purchasing woody (hard and pale) chicken breasts. The other most common reasons are caused by undercooked or overcooked chicken meat, which results in a rubbery (and dry) texture.
If you want to save yourself from the embarrassment of chewy chicken for dinner, this guide has all the tips and tricks you need to avoid rubbery chicken.
The Main Reason Why Your Chicken Is Rubbery
There are three reasons why your chicken is rubbery, and this is caused by overcooking or undercooking your chicken or purchasing poor-quality meat.
The leading cause, however, is overcooked chicken.
When you accidentally leave your chicken breast (for example) in the crock pot or under the grill for too long, it causes all the moisture to be sucked out of the meat.
The protein fibers in the meat begin to lose their elasticity, and it becomes dry, giving it that rubbery texture.
Top Tip: A well-cooked chicken’s ideal internal temperature should be 165℉. This temperature ensures the chicken isn’t over or undercooked.
How to Avoid Overcooking Chicken
Luckily, when it comes to cooking chicken, there are plenty of ways to avoid overcooking your chicken and causing a rubbery texture.
One of the best solutions is by cooking with moisture in the form of steam or liquid.
This helps soften the protein fibers (which keep the elasticity) instead of drying them out.
Let’s take a closer look at some ways to avoid overcooking chicken:
Grilling is a great way to make juicy chicken without drying it out (and it only takes around 40 minutes.) The trick is to allow the meat to soak in a brine (mixture of 4 cups of water and ½ tablespoon of salt) for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Here’s a quick look at how to grill perfect boneless and skinless chicken breasts:
- Set your grill pan (or oven grill setting) to medium heat and add a small amount of olive oil.
- Once your chicken has soaked in the brine for 30 minutes, remove the meat and pat it dry. Brush olive oil over the breasts and add some paprika.
- Place the chicken on the grill and let it cook until you notice grill marks on the underside of the meat. Flip the meat over until the grill marks appear.
- Cover the pan and allow the breasts to brown. Remove the meat once the internal temperature reaches 155℉.
Top Tip: Allow the grilled chicken to rest for around 5 to 10 minutes before serving it (the meat will continue to cook in the residual heat.)
Baking chicken the right way can also provide succulent chicken meat. When baking or roasting, it’s best to use bone-in chicken (bone helps distribute the heat, and the skin protects the exterior from drying out).
Follow these simple steps to bake your chicken:
- Lightly grease an oven pan while you wait for your oven to reach a temperature of around 400℉.
- Rub olive oil on your chicken pieces and sprinkle the seasoning (onion powder, paprika, oregano, or thyme) onto the meat.
- Place the chicken on the oven pan skin side up. Don’t pack the meat close together, and don’t cover it. Let it bake for 30 minutes.
- Adjust the temperature to 350℉ and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes (or once the internal temperature of the chicken meat is 165℉.)
- Remove the chicken from the pan and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving it.
If you love the taste of KFC’s chicken, then deep frying your chicken pieces will lock in the moisture.
Let’s take a look at how to deep fry the chicken:
- Prepare your chicken pieces by seasoning them and dipping them in egg and flour (to give them that crispy crunch).
- Fill a deep fryer or large pot halfway with oil and heat until it reaches 350℉. Gently lower the chicken pieces into the hot oil until the meat turns dark and crispy (between 10 and 15 minutes.)
- Remove the pieces and allow the meat to sit for 5 minutes before eating.
When boiling (or poaching) chicken, the best is to use skin-on, bone-in breasts (which adds to the flavor and creates a broth).
Here is a simple way to boil chicken without it becoming rubbery:
- Select a liquid in which you want to boil your chicken (such as wine, chicken broth, or apple cider) and add your seasonings.
- Add your chicken to about 1.5 to 2 cups of liquid (in a skillet) and bring it to a boil.
- Once the liquid starts bubbling, reduce the heat, cover it, and allow it to simmer (about 30 minutes) until the meat goes from pink to white (with an internal temperature of 165℉.)
- Drain the liquid and serve your chicken.
If you want chicken pieces that are moist on the inside and crispy on the outside, then air-frying chicken is the way to go.
Check out these super quick and easy steps to get yummy air fryer chicken:
- Rub your chicken pieces in olive oil to coat them.
- Mix your selected spices and rub them into the chicken.
- Place the chicken pieces into the air fryer and bake at 360℉ for around 9 minutes.
- Flip the chicken pieces and cook for another 9 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165℉.
How Do You Fix Rubbery Chicken?
While you can’t remove the rubbery texture of the chicken, there are ways to make it more edible (fix it), such as:
- Chop up the rubbery chicken and add it to some broth. Simmer the broth on medium heat, as you don’t want to dry the meat out further.
- Shred the rubbery chicken meat and mix it with some mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce. This makes an excellent chicken sandwich; you won’t notice the rubbery or dry texture.
- Cover your chicken in a sauce or gravy to hide the rubbery texture, and add it to pasta or mashed potatoes.
There is nothing more disappointing than spending hours in the kitchen preparing the perfect roast chicken and then being able to bounce it off the floor.
Unfortunately, although chicken is a typical meat dish, it can go from succulent to dry and rubbery in minutes.
There are great ways to prepare your chicken and avoid overcooking or undercooking it. Luckily, even if this does happen, you can save the day by making a delicious chicken club sandwich, and no one would be the wiser (#Wink).