Should You Rinse Your Raw Chicken Before You Cook It?

Do you wash your meat before cooking it? I know that I always have; it was what I was taught to do and what my parents were taught to do before me in order to make your meat safe to eat. Washing off raw chicken is meant to clean the meat, banishing bacteria and making it safe to consume. Some people, like myself, swear by washing their raw chicken before cooking it, but we’ve recently seen a lot of advice suggesting that rinsing chicken isn’t necessary at all. The Real Simple video below finally puts the argument to rest once and for all: washing your chicken before you cook it is an unnecessary practice! In fact, washing off your chicken may even encourage the cross-contamination that you’re trying to avoid.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, any bacteria that may be lingering on the raw meat will be killed in the oven while cooking anyways. The only safety precautions you truly need to obey when handling raw chicken are as follows:

  1. Make sure when you’re cooking your chicken that the internal temperature is at least 165 °F. Anything under this temperature is considered raw and is not safe for human consumption.
  2. When working with raw chicken (or any raw meat), make sure to wash your hands every time you touch the chicken or its juices. Also, make sure to disinfect anything in the kitchen that the meat or juices touch. This will prevent cross-contamination.

If you’d like to get rid of the juices on your raw chicken, you still don’t need to rinse off the meat. All you have to do to dry the meat is take a paper towel and dab at it; this will absorb the juices easily and make for a much easier preparation. This will also help to remove some bacteria (although, as we’ve said, this will be taken care of in the oven) and helps to prevent cross-contamination in your kitchen.

Drying your chicken, besides cleaning the meat somewhat, is actually a fantastic idea for cooking. A dry chicken will absorb the seasonings you’ve put on it more effectively and will actually brown better in the oven. So not only is drying your chicken a safer practice, it’s also going to leave you with a more delicious chicken!

As we said, rinsing chicken isn’t just a waste of time, but it’s also potentially dangerous for your family’s health. According to Food Republic, it might even be a more productive means by which to SPREAD harmful bacteria.

[B]y rinsing raw chicken before cooking it, you are in fact effectively distributing infection around your kitchen in the form of chicken-y water droplets.

So if you’ve been washing your chicken, save yourself some time (and stop the spread of pointless germs) by simply keeping raw chicken confined to one non-porous cutting board that you can clean well. And, to reiterate, always wash your hands after handling raw meat. That is crucial.

What do you think of this cooking tip? Do you wash your raw chicken or no? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.