Properly resting chicken after cooking is a crucial step that should not be skipped. Letting the chicken rest allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring it stays moist and flavorful. So how long should you let chicken rest before serving or cutting into it? Here’s a closer look at why resting chicken is important and how long you should let it rest for best results.
Why Should You Let Chicken Rest Before Serving?
There are a few key reasons why letting chicken rest after cooking is so important:
- Allows juices to redistribute – When chicken is cooked, the juices get forced towards the center. Letting it rest gives time for these juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
- Prevents dryness – If you cut into chicken right after cooking, the juices will run out onto the cutting board. This leads to drier chicken. Resting locks in moisture.
- Improves texture – Resting allows proteins in the chicken to relax and the muscle fibers to reabsorb any moisture lost during cooking.
- Enhances flavor – Letting the chicken rest allows the flavors to evenly distribute throughout the meat.
So resting chicken provides much juicier, flavorful meat compared to cutting into it straight after cooking. It’s a simple step that makes a big difference.
How Long Should You Let Whole Chicken Rest?
For whole chickens and other large cuts of poultry, a rest time of at least 10 minutes is recommended. Here are some more specific guidelines based on the cook method:
- Roasted chicken – Rest for 10-15 minutes
- Rotisserie chicken – Rest for 10 minutes
- Grilled chicken – Rest for 10 minutes
- Baked chicken – Rest for 15 minutes
- Sous vide chicken – No need to rest
The larger and thicker the cut of chicken, the longer the rest time should be.Bone-in chicken also benefits from a slightly longer rest time than boneless pieces.
How Long Should You Let Chicken Breasts or Thighs Rest?
For boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, the following rest times are recommended:
- Baked chicken breasts – 5 minutes
- Pan seared chicken breasts – 3-5 minutes
- Grilled chicken thighs – 5 minutes
- Baked chicken thighs – 5-10 minutes
Smaller, thinner pieces like boneless breasts and thighs don’t need as long a rest time as a whole chicken. But they still benefit from resting for 3-10 minutes depending on thickness.
How Long Should You Let Fried Chicken Rest?
For bone-in fried chicken, such as chicken legs, wings, thighs or breasts, a rest time of 5-10 minutes is ideal after frying. This helps:
- Allow excess oil to drip off
- Enable the coating to set and crisp up
- Redistribute juices for a juicy interior
Fried chicken of any size should be let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Larger cuts can rest up to 10 minutes.
Tips for Resting Chicken
Follow these tips for best results when resting chicken:
- Rest chicken on a clean cutting board or plate. Don’t cover it.
- The thicker the chicken, the longer it should rest.
- Resist cutting into the chicken right away. Be patient.
- The juices will redistribute best when left undisturbed.
- You can loosely tent chicken with foil to keep warm, but don’t wrap tightly.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip the Rest Step
It can be tempting to immediately start carving into that perfectly cooked chicken, but skipping the rest step comes at a cost:
- Chicken will release juices onto cutting board instead of back into meat
- Meat dries out faster
- Texture suffers from not allowing proteins to relax
- Flavors don’t have time to evenly distribute
- Skin can soften instead of getting crispy
Taking the extra few minutes to rest chicken delivers much tastier, juicier results. Don’t skip this crucial step!
Visual Guide to Recommended Chicken Rest Times
For a helpful visual, here are the recommended rest times for different types of chicken:
|Chicken Type||Rest Time|
|Whole roasted chicken||10-15 minutes|
|Rotisserie chicken||10 minutes|
|Grilled whole chicken||10 minutes|
|Baked whole chicken||15 minutes|
|Fried chicken (bone-in pieces)||5-10 minutes|
|Chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)||3-5 minutes|
|Chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)||5-10 minutes|
Resting chicken after cooking is easy to overlook but so important for delicious, juicy results. Follow the recommended rest times outlined above for whole chickens, large cuts, and boneless breasts and thighs. The thicker the chicken, the longer the rest time. Resisting the urge to immediately carve into that golden brown chicken will reward you with the best texture, moisture and flavor.