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Chicken is the most versatile meat because it easily takes on whichever flavors are added to it. It’s great for lunch or dinner, and even works in breakfast recipes. Properly cooking chicken is actually quite simple if a few important tips are followed.

Don’t wash raw chicken.

Washing chicken can spread bacteria like salmonella around the kitchen. Instead, gently pat raw chicken with a paper towel to remove excess moisture and cook it to a proper temperature to eliminate any bacteria.

Select the right type of chicken for each dish.

Chicken breast dries out easily, so it’s better to use in quick cooking dishes. Chicken thighs are better to use for longer cooking dishes because their higher fat content helps it retain moisture.

Keeping the skin on adds more flavor, but also more fat.

While crispy skin tastes delicious and helps lock in moisture, it also adds a large amount of fat. Either remove the skin prior to cooking and add more seasoning and healthy fat like olive oil to the dish, or cook with the skin on and remove prior to eating to help reduce the fat content by two thirds.

Taking the internal temperature is the best way know when chicken is fully cooked.

While clear juices and no more pink color to the chicken are good things to look for, the only way to truly know a chicken is fully cooked is to take the internal temperature. Properly cooked chicken should have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

When sauteing chicken, don’t overcrowd the pan.

In order to obtain a perfectly brown sear on the chicken, use a pan large enough to cook all of the chicken at once while leaving space in between, or cook in batches so that the pan is not overcrowded.

Pound out chicken breasts for even, quick cooking.

When sautéing or frying chicken, use a meat mallet to pound each breast into an even layer to ensure each part of the chicken finishes cooking at the same time.

Allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the chicken and ensure a more moist, flavorful cut of meat.