How to Avoid Dry Chicken

Several factors play into keeping chicken moist.
Several factors play into keeping chicken moist. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Chicken is a lean meat that is rich in proteins and common in many different cultures’ cooking recipes. When cooked properly, chicken meat is tender, flavorful and juicy. However, if you do not prepare chicken correctly, its meat will be dry and tough. You can avoid dry chicken by preparing the meat before you cook it, watching your cooking times, and altering the way you cook it. Understanding what keeps the meat moist will prevent you from drying out chicken for any dish you prepare.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • Knife
  • Aluminum foil

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Soak the chicken in a brine solution for 30 minutes per lbs. before cooking. Brine solution changes the proteins in the meat, causing them to turn into a gel-like texture. This traps moisture in the meat. You can make simple poultry brine with 1 gallon cold water, 1 cup salt and 1/2 cup white sugar.

Do not overcook the chicken. While different types of chicken require different cooking times, as a rule you should cook it until its juices run clear. Cooking it past this point will begin to dry out the meat. When the chicken is nearing its recommended baking time, slice its surface with a sharp knife. Its juices will flow from the slice in its surface.

Cover the chicken while it bakes. Unless you are boiling the chicken, it should be cooked covered. If you are pan-frying the chicken, keep the pan’s lid on for the majority of the frying time. Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil if you are cooking it in the oven, and wrap the chicken in foil for barbecuing or broiling. This keeps the chicken’s juices close to the meat and prevents them from evaporating.

Tips & Warnings

  • If possible, always select chicken with the bone in and skin on. Bone-in chicken with skin intact produces the juiciest meat.


  • "The Great Chicken Cookbook: Over 230 Simple, Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion"; Editors of Reader's Digest; 2011
  • "Cooking Basics For Dummies"; Bryan Miller, Marie Rama and Eve Adamson; 2011
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