Why You Should Always Bake Chicken At A High Temperature

Properly baked chicken can serve as the perfect blank canvas for garlicky Greek, BBQ, or French onion flavors, but cooking your poultry incorrectly can throw off the entire dish. If you leave it in the oven for too long, you risk it drying out, which will leave it tasting more like cardboard than tender meat. Since chicken is lean (meaning it doesn't have a ton of fat), it can bake faster than some other types of meat. Therefore, when you cook it slowly at a low temperature, the risk of it drying out is higher, because it can quickly go from juicy to overcooked.

To ensure your poultry stays tender, blast it in the oven at higher temperatures for a shorter amount of time. You'll get the added bonus of getting your dinner on the table faster, and if it's hot outside, you won't have to keep your oven on for as long. While some recipes recommend baking chicken at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, go for anything between 375 to 450 degrees to seal in the juices. The only exception here is if you're making just chicken thighs — in that case, avoid cooking them with high heat so you don't immediately burn the skin.

How to bake chicken at high temperatures

Although we're baking our chicken for a shorter time, we still want to make sure it's cooked enough that it's safe to eat. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you cook poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. So, to get juicy chicken that doesn't put you at risk of food borne illness, use a meat thermometer so you can take it out of the oven as soon as it hits that temperature. Don't be afraid to check on it a few times if needed to ensure it doesn't bake for too long.

The exact amount of time it takes to bake poultry will depend on its size and the temperature of your oven. If you're making chicken breasts, pound them to an even thickness with a meat mallet (or another heavy object like a mug) so they all finish baking at the same time. As a general rule of thumb, breasts in a 450-degree-oven should be good to go after 20 minutes, but feel free to adjust your cooking time accordingly. After you've gone to all the trouble of baking your chicken at the perfect temperature, don't forget to let it rest on the counter for 10 minutes to keep it nice and moist.