Food & Drink

What Should a Chicken Thigh’s Internal Temp Be?

Last Updated on September 7, 2023 | 0 Comments
chicken thigh internal temp

If you want to safely and successfully prepare a chicken thigh, you need to know the correct chicken thigh internal temp. Chicken thighs are an essential dish to have in your cooking repertoire: They’re juicy, tender and go well with a lot of recipes. However, as with any type of poultry, cooking chicken to the correct temperature is paramount for safety and achieving a good taste. Chicken thighs are a little more tricky to prepare than chicken breasts, but with a few simple tips on chicken thigh internal temps, it can become one of your favorite meats to cook. 

Per the USDA, any poultry should have a minimum internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit to be safe for consumption. That said, the ideal cooking temperature for chicken thighs can be even higher depending on the recipe. Read on for more details on getting the best chicken thigh internal temp for your next chicken dish. 


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Minimum Internal Temperature for Chicken Thighs

As far as safety goes, the internal temp for chicken legs should be no lower than 165° F. When measured with the metric system, that’s about 74° C for a chicken thigh internal temp. If that sounds high, you’re not wrong. Poultry needs to be cooked at a significantly high heat to prevent foodborne illnesses.

The recommended safe internal temperature is higher for chicken than, say, a steak, because the most common diseases in poultry — such as salmonella — can survive at high temperatures. Heating up poultry to at least 165° F will kill any potential germs lurking in your meat. So, as pesky as that longer cooking time can be, it’s worth it to make sure that your chicken thigh internal temp is safe for eating, not to mention extra delicious. 

If you want to learn to cook chicken, keeping that key temperature of 165° F in your mind will ensure you never undercook your poultry. For a tastier and more advanced approach to chicken thighs, you’ll want to attain an even higher chicken thigh internal temp to pull out more of the meat’s flavors. 

raw chicken thighs prepared for cooking
via Canva

Best Chicken Thigh Internal Temperatures

When it comes to getting the best internal temp for chicken legs, slow and low is the name of the game. If you get impatient and heat up your chicken thighs by cranking the temperature all the way up, your chicken will be too dry, which is the last thing you want. Instead, you want to keep your chicken thighs slowly cooking on a low temperature, thus allowing the meat to marinate in its juices and gradually tenderize. 

This can sound counterintuitive, but chicken thighs have a different consistency than other cuts of chicken. The thigh contains so much collagen and other types of muscle tissue that a higher chicken thigh internal temp will actually break down those proteins and produce a juicier meat. This is why thighs are such a fun dish to slow cook and serve at cookouts and other casual daylong events. 

Various recipes will recommend different ideal chicken thigh internal temps. For the ultimate juicy and tender chicken thigh experience, aim for an internal temp between 175 and 185 F. Any temperature higher than that can dry out or burn your meat, but the perfect 175° to 185° range will get you well above the minimum safe temperature and maximize the poultry’s flavor potential. Some recipes may call for a chicken thigh internal temp as high as 195° F, which can have great results as long as the cooking time is super slow.

Be sure to factor in the size of your chicken thighs when calculating your cooking time and follow along with the recipe’s temperature guidance. 

chicken thigh internal temp of 185
via Canva

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How to Measure Chicken Thigh’s Internal Temperatures

Knowing the appropriate cooking temperature for chicken thighs is one thing, but properly measuring a chicken thigh internal temp is a whole other culinary skill. If you’re cooking meat at home, you absolutely need to have a meat thermometer in your kitchen. You can get a versatile thermometer, such as the Harold Import Co. Large Face Meat Thermometer, which is oven and dishwasher safe and measures up to 190° F. This large face model is especially handy because it demarcates the safe consumption temperatures for various meats, including poultry. 

Harold Import Co. Large Face Meat Thermometer
via Harold Import Co.

When you use a meat thermometer to check the chicken thigh internal temp, insert the thermometer into the center, where the meat is thickest, being sure to stay a fraction of an inch away from the bone, as this can affect the thermometer’s results. The thickest section of the thigh will reach the goal temperature last, making it the most accurate part to measure for food safety purposes (and for guaranteeing those yummy flavors). 

For those interested in cooking complex chicken dishes, or simply want to perfect their chicken thigh recipe, you may want to look into cooking classes. It isn’t hard to find cooking classes near you, whether you’re looking for cooking classes in NYC or cooking classes in New Orleans. You can also find online cooking classes so you can receive instruction while preparing your chicken thighs at home. Whichever cooking class you choose, hands-on advice from a professional chef is the best way to learn about preparing meat, including technical details like chicken thigh internal temps.

Cooking classes can teach you the proper chicken thigh internal temp.
via Cozymeal

Our Favorite Chicken Thigh Recipes

Chicken isn’t the easiest dish to prepare well, especially when worrying about the safest and tastiest chicken thigh internal temp or how to slow-cook a chicken properly. But after you spend some time learning about food safety and the principles of cooking large cuts of poultry, you’ll have a much broader understanding of cooking meat and a myriad of new recipes to explore.

For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.