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• Broiler Fryer: 7 to 9 weeks old, 2 to 3 1/2 pounds

Roaster: 3 to 7 months old, 3  to 6 pounds

Stewing: 10-18 months old, 3 to 6 pounds

Capon: 4 to 5 months old, 4 to 8 pounds

Rock Cornish game hen: 4 to 6 weeks old, 1 to 2 pounds

Today's chickens are marketed much younger than they were years ago. Their bones have not matured yet, and are still soft and porous. Bone marrow can seep through the soft bone into the surrounding meat. This is especially true of frozen chicken, due to ice crystals that form inside the bone, which force heme part out through the soft bones. When the chicken is cooked, the meat around this area will darken. This is unappetizing, but it is not unsafe. The USDA and the poultry industry is well aware of this problem, and are working on a solution.

To improve the flavor of poultry, rub the fowl inside and out with salt before roasting.

FSIS recommends cooking whole chicken to 165°F as measured in the thigh using a food thermometer.

    Whole broiler fryer* 3 to 4 lbs.
    ROASTING (350 °F)  1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hrs.
    SIMMERING  60 to 75 min.
    GRILLING 60 to 75 min*

    Whole roasting hen*  5 to 7 lbs.
    ROASTING (350 °F)  2 to 2 1/4 hrs.
    SIMMERING  1 3/4 to 2 hrs.
    GRILLING 18-25 min/lb**

    Whole capon* 4 to 8 lbs.
    ROASTING (350 °F)  2 to 3 hrs
    SIMMERING  Not suitable
    GRILLING 15-20 min/lb**

    Whole Cornish hens*  18-24 oz.
    ROASTING (350 °F)  50 to 60 min.
    SIMMERING  35 to 40 min.
    GRILLING 45 to 55 min**

    Breast halves, bone-in 6 to 8 oz.
    ROASTING (350°F) 30 to 40 min.
    SIMMERING  35 to 45 min.
    GRILLING 10 - 15 min/side

    Breast half, boneless  4 ounces
    ROASTING (350°F) 20 to 30 min.
    SIMMERING  25 to 30 min.
    GRILLING 6 to 8 min/side

    Legs or thighs 8 or 4 oz.
    ROASTING (350°F) 40 to 50 min.
    SIMMERING  40 to 50 min.
    GRILLING 10 - 15 min/side

    Drumsticks 4 ounces
    ROASTING (350°F) 35 to 45 min.
    SIMMERING  40 to 50 min.
    GRILLING 8 to 12 min/side

    Wings or wingettes 2 to 3 oz.
    ROASTING (350°F) 30 to 40 min.
    SIMMERING  35 to 45 min.
    GRILLING 8 to 12 min/side

* Unstuffed. If stuffed, add 15 to 30 minutes additional time.
** Indirect method using drip pan.

Microwave on medium-high (70 percent power): whole chicken, 9 to 10 minutes per pound; bone-in parts and Cornish hens, 8 to 9 minutes per pound; boneless breasts halves, 6 to 8 minutes per pound.

When microwaving parts, arrange in dish or on rack so thick parts are toward the outside of dish and thin or bony parts are in the center.

Place whole chicken in an oven cooking bag or in a covered pot.

For boneless breast halves, place in a dish with 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap.

Allow 10 minutes standing time for bone-in chicken; 5 minutes for boneless breast.

The USDA recommends cooking whole poultry to 180°F as measured in the thigh using a food thermometer. When cooking pieces, the breast should reach 165°F internally. Drumsticks, thighs, and wings should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.


Never brown or partially cook chicken to refrigerate and finish cooking later because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. It is safe to partially pre-cook or microwave chicken immediately before transferring it to the hot grill to finish cooking.

For additional food safety information about meat, poultry, or egg products, call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1 (800) 535-4555; for the hearing-impaired (TTY) 1 (800) 256-7072. The Hotline is staffed by food safety experts weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time. Food safety recordings can be heard 24 hours a day using a touch-tone phone.
     Information is also available from the FSIS Web site:



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