Why Is Chicken Dry? (Surprising Reasons You Didn’t Know)

Everyone that has ever eaten chicken knows that it can be dry from time to time. When comparing chicken to other meats, chicken is nearly always drier but don’t worry; there are a simple explanation to that and ways to prevent it.

In this article, you will learn exactly why chicken is dry, what makes chicken dry, and some additional things that are good to know about chickens as meat. Before we go further, let’s learn why chicken can be dry?

Chicken can be dry for many reasons, such as the chicken’s part itself, cooking methods, and no rest after cooking. When chicken is dry, it is usually either a too thick piece, cooked in too high heat with no marinara or brine, or enjoyed straight after cooking with no rest time.

If you really look at the chicken, you are about to cook and the cooking methods you had in mind, you can understand why chicken can end up being dry. If you know Popeyes chicken, you should learn where they get their chicken . If you know Popeyes chicken, you should learn where they get their chicken . There are ways around that with some valuable bits of knowledge but more on those later because first, we need to dig deeper about what makes chicken dry, so you know how to prevent it.

What makes a chicken dry

When you notice that your chicken will become quite dry, it is usually the cause of one or many of the 4 reasons below. Let’s take each one under the microscope.

1. Cooked in too high temperatures

The most common reason for the dryness of a chicken is too high temperatures. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165°F(74°C), and the only real way to know whether it is done or not is to use a thermometer and check the temperature of the tightest part of the chicken.

However, if you cook past that 165°F(74°C) temperature, the chicken will dry out extremely quickly so that temperature really is optimal.

Another temperature mistake is to fry chicken in too high temperatures. This will cause the chicken to dry out and burn from the outside while the inside is still pink and raw. Therefore chicken should be cooked at low temperatures for a longer time.

2. Too thick pieces of chicken

Another really common reason for chickens’ dryness is how thick the piece is. When the chicken is too thick, it is easy to dry it out from the outside, even when it would need much more cooking from the inside.

This is why slow is steady, and if you want that beautiful and crusty surface for the chicken, you can fry it in a pan and put it in the oven afterward. This way, the chicken won’t dry out more fully cooked, and it will retain the liquids within the chicken, making it a juicy treat.

3. No liquid whatsoever

Depending on what you are cooking, a brine, marinara, or a rub will do only good for the chicken. If the chicken is just plain dry and cooked this way, it will nearly always result in a dry outcome. Also, a good marinara will make your chicken way tastier as well…

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4. No rest time

Last but not least, with all meats, especially with chicken, it should be given a 5-10minutes of rest because if you cut it straight away, far more liquids will be run out of the meat, but if you give it the rest, the chicken will be juicy, tasty, and retain it’s natural liquids far better.

How do I cook chicken so it stays moist

Now, it’s important to master these simple steps if you want to enjoy juicy and tasty chicken instead of dry and hard. Let’s start with the butterfly method.

1. Butterfly your chicken

Butterflying a chicken is usually made for chicken breast for a couple of reasons. First, chicken breasts are thick, so just frying it would make it really dry, and second is that chicken breasts are uneven, meaning that they are way thicker on the other side and thin from the other.

In addition to the actual butterflying, you should give it a little pounding afterward, placing the butterflied chicken breast between a plastic wrap or kitchen paper and pound it gently without breaking the texture so you can get a nice even and thin chicken breast. You can see how it is properly done from the video below.

2. Use marinara, brine, or rub

Chicken can dry, especially when talking about chicken breast, which isn’t as fatty as the other parts of the chicken. Anyways, marinating rubbing or using a brine will usually save the chicken from a dry fate by keeping it moist and, on the plus side, giving it much more taste.

3. Turn down the heat and increase cooking time

If you notice that your chicken is usually raw from the inside when it is in bad condition on the outside, then it is time to fix that. By frying, the chicken in medium heat on the pan will cook the chicken evenly without burning it from the outside.

The only downside of this is that it takes more time. If you’re in a hurry, I suggest butterflying the chicken so it’ll cook much faster.

4. Cook smaller pieces

There are various ways to cook chicken, and one of the options is to cut the chicken into little pieces or thin slices. This way, the chicken will cook faster and more evenly. Therefore the chicken doesn’t have time to dry out on the pan.

5. Use from pan to oven method

This is my favorite if I want to cook thick chicken breasts. The simple way to do this is to fry the outside of the chicken in a pan giving it a nice golden surface, and then placing the chicken into an oven for about 10minutes or as long as it hits that 165°F(74°C). The only way to know whether it is really done or not is by using a thermometer.

Cooking the chicken this way will give that nice texture to the outside while maintaining the meat’s moisture. Another reason why this is a great way because you can focus that 10-15minutes on something else while your chicken is cooking!

6. Let it rest

You probably have seen if you dig in straight after the chicken is cooked that your plate fills with that meat juice, and that is the moisture escaping the chicken, and we don’t want that.

If you let the chicken rest 5-10 minutes after it is cooked, perhaps even wrapped in foil, it will be so juicy and full of flavor that you wouldn’t believe when comparing it to a chicken consumed straight after cooking.

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Is dry chicken safe

Dry chicken is perfectly safe if it has been cooked to 165°F(74°C). The same principle goes to all chicken, no matter how dry or moist. Also, even when dry chicken is safe to eat, it might not be pleasant to eat because of the texture.

How do you fix dry chicken

There are various methods to moisten dry chicken and fix it, so it is juicy and pleasant to eat again. Let’s take a look at all the different options you have with dry chicken.

Moisten with a sauce

By adding the chicken into a sauce, gravy, or brine will get that moisture back in. The way I would approach this is by cutting the chicken into smaller pieces so the sauce can be absorbed better into the chicken, giving it a juicy and tasty texture with no dryness in sight.

Mix it with salad or pasta

Another great idea is to mix it with pasta. The same principle here is to make thin slices or pieces and throwing them into the mix. You can do the same with practically anything that has some tomato sauce or food cream on it.

Also, what’s better than a chicken salad? You can shred, slice, or chop the chicken into smaller pieces and either mix the chicken with a salad with sauce all over it or placing the chicken on top of the salad and adding the sauce from there.

Great sauces to go with chicken are:

  • Caesar sauce
  • BBQ sauce
  • Garlic sauce
  • Pesto sauce
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Mango salsa

Make a sandwich out of it

Making a club sandwich with guacamole, mayonnaise, BBQ, and melted cheese will give the chicken some extra moisture. The best way to do this is by slicing the chicken breast horizontally, making it into two thin slices, and adding them between the 2 slices of bread.

Add it to a soup

Adding the chicken into a soup will be a certain way to make it moist and juicy again. Cut the chicken into the desired form and add it to the soup of any kind. From my personal experience, clear soups are the ultimate choice for this.

Use it inside a quesadilla or burrito

Make tiny pieces or properly shredding the chicken. Using it between a quesadilla or burrito will make it moist again when you put some salsa, guacamole, crème Fraiche, and melted cheese to boost it up. You can prepare quesadillas on a pan, panini press, or waffle iron, and burritos will become great in the oven.

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How do Chinese restaurants make chicken so tender

There is a couple of methods to make chicken and any meat for that matter, tender. The methods are called velveting, let’s take a look at how does it work.

Method 1

  1. First, make the marinade before mixing the ingredients with the meat. Ingredients are measured for 1pound(450g of chicken)
  2. Place one egg white into a bowl
  3. 1tbs of corn starch or flour
  4. Splash of cooking wine
  5. 1 tsp of salt
  6. Place thin chicken strips or pieces into the marinade and mix it well.
  7. Marinade for 60minutes and remove the excess marinade
  8. Place the chicken into boiling water for 2minutes
  9. Now it’s time to fry your tenderized chicken!

Method 2

  1. Cut your chicken breast into thin slices or pieces and make them ready.
  2. Place 1tsp of baking soda into a bowl for every 300g of meat. Add a small splash of water and mix everything together
  3. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes in a fridge.
  4. Rinse well with cold water and dip the chicken into boiling water for 2 minutes (heat turned off)
  5. After that, you’re ready to fry the chicken!

Is Velveting chicken healthy

Velveting chicken is a healthy method embraced by many Chinese restaurants. Velveting is made by water in order to make chicken tender and as far from dry as possible. The leaner the meat the better when it comes to velveting, therefore velveting chicken is healthy.


There are many reasons why chicken can be dry, from cooking methods to preparations. There are always ways to prevent the dryness in the chicken, and it’s really not rocket science; however, new things may always seem daunting, and some learning might be needed, but in the end, everyone can make that juicy and moist chicken.

I hope that this article gave you value that you can really implement into your real life so you can actually benefit from this post. Happy cooking moments!

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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