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Can you tenderize tough cooked chicken?

Chicken is a popular protein source that people all around the world consume in various forms. One of the worst things that can happen when cooking chicken is ending up with tough, rubbery meat. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you’ve spent so much time and effort cooking it. However, all hope is not lost if you’ve found yourself in this predicament. In this blog post, we will discuss whether it is possible to tenderize tough cooked chicken and how to do it.

Why Is Chicken Tough?

Before we dive into how to tenderize tough cooked chicken, let’s discuss why it can become tough in the first place. There are several reasons why chicken can become tough, including:


Overcooking chicken is perhaps the most common reason for tough meat. When chicken is cooked for too long, it loses moisture and becomes dry. This leads to tough, rubbery meat that is difficult to chew.

Lack of Moisture

If chicken is cooked without enough moisture, it can also become tough. The moisture in the chicken helps to keep it tender while it cooks. Without enough moisture, the meat can become dry and tough.

Low-Quality Meat

The quality of the chicken you buy can also affect how tough it is. If the meat is low quality or has been frozen and thawed multiple times, it can lose its tenderness.

Age of the Chicken

The age of the chicken can also play a role in how tough it is. Older chickens tend to have tougher meat than younger ones.

Can You Tenderize Tough Cooked Chicken?

The short answer is yes; you can tenderize cooked chicken. However, it’s important to note that the results may not be the same as tenderizing raw chicken. Once chicken is cooked, the protein molecules contract and tighten, making it harder for them to absorb liquid.

How to Tenderize Tough Cooked Chicken

If you have cooked chicken that is tough, there are several methods you can try to tenderize it.

Simmer in Broth or Liquid

Simmering cooked chicken in a broth or liquid is one of the best ways to tenderize it. The liquid will help to hydrate the meat, making it more tender. You can use any liquid you like, such as water, chicken broth, or wine. Simply add the chicken to the liquid and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the meat becomes tender.

Add Acid

Acidic ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or buttermilk can help to tenderize chicken. The acid breaks down the proteins in the meat, making it softer and more tender. To use this method, simply whisk together an acid of your choice with some oil and seasonings, then toss the chicken in the mixture and allow it to marinate for a few hours before cooking it.

Cut the Chicken into Smaller Pieces

If you have cooked chicken that is tough, cutting it into smaller pieces can make a difference. Smaller pieces of chicken will cook faster and be more tender. You can use a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen shears to cut the chicken into smaller pieces.

Use a Meat Tenderizer

A meat tenderizer is a tool that can be used to pound meat until it is tender. If you have cooked chicken that is tough, you can use a meat tenderizer to soften it. Simply place the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound it with the tenderizer until it becomes tender.

Use a Slow Cooker

Slow-cooking chicken is another great way to tenderize it. You can add chicken to a slow cooker with liquid or broth and allow it to cook on low for several hours. When the chicken is done, it will be tender and juicy.


Tough cooked chicken can be frustrating, but there are several methods you can try to tenderize it. Whether you choose to simmer it in a liquid, add acid, cut it into smaller pieces, or use a slow cooker, you can salvage tough chicken and turn it into a delicious meal. Remember to pay attention to the quality of the chicken you buy and avoid overcooking it in the first place.


Can you make chicken tender after cooking?

Chicken is a popular protein choice for many people. It’s affordable, versatile, and has a high protein content. However, sometimes chicken can turn out to be rubbery and tough after cooking, making it an unpleasant eating experience. The good news is that there are ways to make chicken tender even after it has been cooked.

One way to make chicken tender after cooking is by using a braising method. Braising involves cooking food in a small amount of liquid at a low temperature for an extended period. The liquid helps to break down the protein fibers in the chicken, resulting in tender and flavorful meat. To do this, you can place the rubbery chicken into a braising liquid of any kind, such as water and spices, and allowing it to cook low and slow. You can also add vegetables and herbs to the braising liquid to enhance the flavor of the chicken.

Another way to make chicken tender after cooking is by using acidic ingredients. Acids such as lemon juice, vinegar, and wine can help to break down the protein fibers in the chicken. You can use these acids in a marinade or sauce to help tenderize the chicken. Simply marinate the cooked chicken in a mixture of acid, oil, and seasonings for a few hours before reheating or serving. Alternatively, you can add an acidic sauce to the cooked chicken and let it simmer for a few minutes to help tenderize it.

Some other methods that can help to make chicken tender after cooking include using a meat mallet to pound the chicken breasts or using a slow cooker to cook the chicken. Pounding the chicken breast can help to break down the muscle fibers, making it tender. Slow cooking is a gentle method that can help to preserve the moisture and flavor of the chicken while also breaking down the protein fibers.

There are several ways to make chicken tender even after it has been cooked. Whether you use a braising method, acidic ingredients, a meat mallet, or a slow cooker, you can salvage rubbery chicken and turn it into a delicious and tender meal. With a little creativity and experimentation, you can transform tough and dry chicken into a flavorful and moist dish that you and your family will love.

Why is my cooked chicken tough and chewy?

Chewy chicken can be a result of several factors, including overcooking, undercooking, or even the cut of the chicken itself. Overcooking is one of the most common causes of tough and chewy chicken. When chicken is overcooked, it can result in dry and stringy meat that is difficult to chew. This is because heat causes the protein in the chicken to tighten up and squeeze out moisture, leading to a dry texture.

On the other hand, undercooking chicken can also result in chewy meat. If chicken is not cooked to the recommended internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), it can still contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. However, if you cook chicken until it is properly cooked through, but it still turns out chewy, there may be other factors at play.

The cut of chicken you use can also affect its texture. For example, chicken breast is leaner and has less fat than other cuts, making it more prone to becoming dry and chewy if overcooked. In contrast, chicken thighs and legs contain more fat, which helps them stay juicy and tender even when cooked for longer periods.

Moreover, the quality of the chicken can also affect its texture. If the chicken is old or has been frozen and thawed multiple times, it can become tough and chewy. In this case, it is best to use fresh chicken and avoid cooking chicken that has been frozen and thawed too many times.

To prevent chewy chicken, it is essential to cook it to the proper temperature and for the appropriate amount of time. Using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken can help ensure that it is fully cooked but not overcooked. Marinating the chicken in a mixture of oil, acid, and spices, such as lemon juice or vinegar, can also help tenderize it and add flavor.

Several factors can contribute to chewy and tough chicken, including overcooking, undercooking, the cut of chicken used, and the quality of the chicken itself. By following cooking guidelines and using fresh ingredients, you can prepare tender and juicy chicken every time.

What is the best way to cook tough chicken?

There are several methods you can use to cook tough chicken and make it tender. The trick is to break down the fibers of the chicken, which makes it easier to chew and digest. One of the most effective ways to tenderize tough chicken is by pounding it.

Pounding the chicken is a great do-it-yourself technique for tenderizing chicken before cooking. You can use a mallet or any object with a flat surface to pound the chicken. This helps to break the fibers in the chicken, making it faster to cook and more tender. To do this, you should cover the chicken with a plastic wrap or sealable bag to prevent the chicken from sticking to the surface or to avoid contamination.

Another method to make tough chicken tender is through marinating. A marinade will help to impregnate the chicken with flavor and also tenderize the meat. You can use a mixture of acidic ingredients such as vinegar, citrus juice or wine, salt, and seasoning to make a marinade. You should let the chicken marinate for at least an hour, or preferably overnight, before cooking.

When cooking tough chicken, you should also be careful of overcooking it. Overcooking chicken can make it dry and tough. To prevent this, cook the chicken over low to medium heat and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The internal temperature for cooked chicken should be between 165°F and 175°F. This will ensure that the chicken is safe to eat and will be tender and juicy.

The best ways to cook tough chicken and make it tender include pounding it, marinating, cooking it over low to medium heat, and checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. By following these tips, you can enjoy tender and juicy chicken that is full of flavor.

Why is my chicken rubbery if not overcooked?

Chicken is one of the most popular meats worldwide, and while it’s a delicious and versatile ingredient, it can be quite challenging to cook. Many people have experienced rubbery chicken at least once, and it’s not a pleasant experience. There are many reasons why chicken can turn out rubbery, and overcooking is just one of them.

One reason why chicken can be rubbery even when it’s not overcooked is its water content. Chickens are injected with water to increase their weight, and this water can actually make the meat rubbery. The water is absorbed into the meat during cooking and then evaporates slowly.

Another potential culprit for rubbery chicken is the way the chicken was raised. Some chickens are raised with growth hormones to increase their size, and this can result in muscle fibers that are too large. When cooked, these large fibers can result in rubbery chicken.

There are also two types of chicken, generally known as white striping and woody breast, that are prone to rubberiness regardless of whether or not you overcook them. A chicken with white striping contains stripes of fat along with the muscle fibers. These stripes can result in meat that is tough and has a rubbery texture. Likewise, woody breast is caused by a buildup of collagen in the muscle fibers, which results in a chicken that is tough and chewy.

There are many reasons why chicken can turn out rubbery, ranging from overcooking to the water content of the chicken to the way it was raised. Understanding these factors can help you choose higher quality chicken, or adjust your cooking techniques to achieve juicier and more tender results.