There’s a reason why we frequently say “this tastes like chicken.” For carnivores, the mild meat has perhaps the most commonly recognized flavor and texture in the world. In fact, nearly eight billion chickens are consumed each year in the U.S. alone. While this may be bad news for our poultry friends, the protein-packed food isn’t leaving supermarket shelves and restaurant menus any time soon.

Since you’re probably cooking chicken tonight and you may have questions, we’ve created this helpful chicken food safety guide with selection, storage, and cooking tips, as well as a variety of recipes.

How to Select Chicken

If you’re searching for a whole chicken, you’ll first want to ensure that its round breast is pliable to the touch. This indicates that the chicken is young and the meat will be more tender. When purchasing cuts of chicken, the color of its skin has no bearing on freshness or nutritional value. Instead, look at its flesh to ensure it is pink with limited amounts of white striping.

How to Store Chicken

Raw or cooked chicken can be stored in a refrigerator for a few days after its sell-by date, though it’s important to prevent raw chicken juices from leaking and contaminating other foods. Ensure that chicken remains in its original packaging (which should be vacuum-sealed or tightly-wrapped) until it is ready to be cooked.

How to Freeze Chicken 

While freezing will make your chicken less tender and juicy, it is the perfect way to store the family-sized pack you bought at Costco last weekend. Remove the chicken from its original packaging and rewrap it tightly using aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper. Double wrap if you are planning to store the chicken for more than two months. Ground chicken can last up to three months in the freezer, while chicken pieces can last up to nine.  

How to Thaw Chicken

You should never thaw chicken at room temperature, as it is highly susceptible to bacteria growth. Frozen chicken should be defrosted in the microwave, refrigerator, or a bowl of cold water (which should be changed every 30 minutes).

How to Cook Chicken

Chicken’s flavor may be one-noted, but it’s a sponge for complex seasonings, marinades, and sauces. We’ve rounded up eight of the most common ways to prepare and cook poultry, along with drool-worthy recipes that deserve spots on your rotating dinner menu.

Fried: Tatsutage Fried Chicken with Spicy Yuzu Mayonnaise

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Grilled: Grilled Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Rosemary Marinade

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Roasted: Basic Whole Roasted Chicken

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Baked: Baked Cracker-Crusted Chicken Fingers

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Braised: Braised Tunisian Chicken Thighs

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Poached: Poached Chicken and Pomegranate Orzo

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Broiled: Easy Broiled Chicken Breasts

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Burger: Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger

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