Why You Shouldn't Worry About Overcooking Chicken Thighs

If you're anything like most Americans, you eat lots and lots of chicken. Almost 100 pounds per person per year, according to the National Chicken Council. An endlessly versatile protein that's delicious fried, baked, roasted, pan-seared, poached, tossed into salads, layered into sandwiches — chicken lays the foundation of many a delicious lunch or dinner, even occasionally landing on our breakfast plates in the form of the Chinese rice porridge congee or a classically indulgent chicken biscuit.

Other than being tasty and versatile, chicken is a winning choice for so many eaters due to the fact that it's one of the most affordable meat options at the grocery store — especially when you buy it whole and butcher it yourself, according to Leite's Culinaria. And if you really want to save some dough, you can opt for dark meat chicken, like the thigh (via Your Meat Guide). Due to its reputation for being healthier than dark meat, MasterClass points out, that the white meat of a chicken is the most expensive cut. However, buying dark meat can help you save a few bucks, and another great thing about it is that it's basically impossible to overcook.

Dark meat chicken gets more delicious the longer it cooks

If you regularly enjoy both white meat and dark meat chicken, then you've probably noticed significant textural differences between the two. According to America's Test Kitchen, dark meat chicken is loaded with significantly more connective tissue than white meat, which dissolves into gelatin as it cooks and basically infuses the chicken with juiciness from the inside out. With chicken breast, on the other hand, there's the perennial fear of overcooking it and leaving it dry as a bone — especially when cooking boneless, skinless chicken breast, which is at most risk of drying out (via University of Wyoming).

If you're just plain tired of fussing over chicken, then your best bet is to stick to cooking dark meat. America's Test Kitchen writes that the meat is nearly impossible to overcook. While thighs or drumsticks are just fine once they're fully cooked to an internal temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit, it's actually even better at 195 degrees — unlike white meat, which just gets leathery and tough. 

That's why we see so many low-and-slow recipes for dark meat chicken, the outlet explains, from coq au vin to chicken adobo to braised chicken thighs. So if you're looking for a less-stressful chicken-cooking experience — or simply want to chow down on some succulently juicy meat — pick up some thighs or drumsticks the next time you're at the store.