How Long to Cook a Chicken?

Updated February 21, 2017

Chicken is a meat that must be thoroughly cooked for it to be safe to eat. The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA recommends that all chicken parts be cooked to an internal temperature of 73.9 degrees C. In general, chicken, like turkey, should be cooked at least 20 minutes per pound. For added safety, always use a good quality meat thermometer to test chicken meat for doneness.

Pan Frying or Grilling

Chicken breasts, deboned, will take 6 to 8 minutes per side on the grill or in a frying pan. Add an additional 4 to 7 minutes per side if the bone is left in. Thighs and Legs will take 10 to 15 minutes per side and wings will cook in 8 to 12 minutes. If cooking a whole chicken on the grill, plan on at least 20 minutes per pound. Check the temperature at the end of that time and cook for several minutes longer if needed to reach 73.9 degrees C.


A 3 1/2-lb. roast chicken will take approximately 1 1/2 hours to cook in a 350 degree F oven. Add an additional 30 minutes if the chicken is stuffed. A larger 7-pound roasting hen may take as long as 2 1/4 hours, plus the additional 30 minutes if stuffed. Legs, thighs, breasts and wings take approximately 20 to 50 minutes to roast, depending on their size and weight. Cornish hens will take approximately 50 minutes to an hour to fully cook.


Microwave whole chickens for 9 to 10 minutes per pound at 70 per cent power. Bone-in pieces, such as legs, thighs and wings, should cook at 70 per cent power for 8 to 9 minutes per pound of chicken. Boneless breast halves need to cook for 6 to 8 minutes per pound. For optimal cooking of chicken parts, place the thickest portion of the meat to the outside of the cooking dish. For whole chickens, use an oven cooking bag or covered casserole dish. Cook boneless breasts, covered with a small amount of water for even cooking.

Chicken Tips

You should never partially cook chicken with the plan to fully cook it later. This will allow bacteria to grow and can cause severe sickness if consumed. When boiling whole chickens for stock, soup or simple cooked chicken meat, plan to simmer the chicken for no less than 1 1/2 to 2 hours to ensure doneness.

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