We’ve all been there before. First, we fired up our natural gas grill and cooked the chicken to perfection.
Next, we let it rest, then bit into it expecting to find tender, juicy chicken, but instead, we were met with dry, tough, rubbery chicken.
If you are aggravated that your chicken keeps coming out rubbery, it’s time you ask for some help.
Luckily, I’ve got you covered, and you will never have to deal with rubbery chicken again once you’ve read this article.
- What Causes Rubbery Chicken?
- Is Rubbery Chicken Undercooked?
- How To Avoid Rubbery Chicken
- How To Fix Rubbery Chicken
- Final Thoughts
What Causes Rubbery Chicken?
Rubbery chicken can occur for several reasons. For example, the absence of moisture, overcooking, and natural causes can play an integral role in creating rubbery chicken.
Absence of Moisture
Even though overcooking chicken can dry it out, chicken can naturally lose moisture on its own.
Chicken is considered lean meat. Lean meats dry out faster than fattier meats because of an absence of fat.
Furthermore, the chicken can experience moisture loss before it even touches your scorching hot kamado grill.
If the chicken is not covered adequately while it is marinating or thawing in the fridge or it is exposed to air in the freezer, it will dry out.
Therefore, you should seal the chicken in freezer bags or use a vacuum sealer to seal the chicken.
You can also soak combat dry rubbery chicken by soaking it in a brine. The brine will break down the chicken’s muscle fibers and tenderize them.
Additionally, the chicken will also absorb some of the brine, which keeps it from drying out.
The number 1 cause of rubbery chicken is overcooking. Whether you fry, bake, smoke the chicken in a propane smoker, or grill the chicken on an indoor grill, it will become harder to chew once the chicken is overcooked.
Exposure to high heat for a long period of time causes the muscles in the chicken to lose moisture and elasticity.
Even if you brine your chicken and cook it to the recommended temperature, there is still a chance that your chicken could come out rubbery.
In this case, we can safely blame the chicken for coming out dry and rubbery.
Woody Chicken Breast
Woody chicken breasts refer to an ailment that causes the chicken muscles to become tight and knotted.
Woody chicken breasts impact approximately 5%-1-% of the chicken population in the US.
Meat vendors sell chickens with mild cases of woody chicken.
So, you shouldn’t panic too much about purchasing woody chickens and ending up with dry chicken breasts.
White striping can also cause chicken breasts to become rubbery. Essentially the chicken breast will have white stripes that resemble wood grain flowing parallel to the muscle.
Although white striping sounds insignificant, it is very important as it heavily affects the quality of the chicken.
White striping can ruin the chicken’s flavor and reduce its nutritional value.
In addition to this, white striped chickens have more fat and will not easily soak up marinades.
Is Rubbery Chicken Undercooked?
Chicken can also be rubbery if it’s undercooked. You can easily identify undercooked chicken because it looks shiny and feels jiggly when touched.
Furthermore, undercooked chicken means the chicken was not cooked to a high enough temperature to neutralize bacteria. Therefore, consuming undercooked chicken could cause food poisoning.
Symptoms of food poisoning include dehydration, diarrhea for more than 3 days, bloody stools, high fever, or prolonged vomiting. If you experience food poisoning, it’s best to reach out to a doctor.
How To Avoid Rubbery Chicken
No one likes rubbery chicken. So, take these steps to prevent your chicken from becoming rubbery.
How To Prevent Rubbery Grilled Chicken
Grilling chicken gives you more control over when the chicken is exposed to high heat. In addition to this, grilling also gives you control over which parts of the chicken are exposed to high or low heat.
For example, if you are cooking a whole chicken that’s been fabricated into the wings, breast thighs, and legs, they will have different cooking times.
You can remove the wings from the hibachi grill since they will cook faster, so you can remove them from the grill and let the other parts of the chicken cook longer.
Nevertheless, overcooking and undercooking are still common issues when grilling chicken. Furthermore, managing the heat, especially if you are grilling chicken on a charcoal grill, can be difficult.
This is why you must give every piece of chicken special attention while it is cooking on the grill. This will minimize the chances that the chicken becomes burned, overcooked, or undercooked.
Either way, you will end up with rubbery chicken, so watch it closely while it’s on the grill.
To add more moisture to the chicken by saturating it with beer or chicken broth while it is cooking on the grill. You can also add BBQ sauce near the end of the grilling process to add moisture to the chicken.
Depending on the chicken cut you are grilling, it may be best to set up two grilling zones for indirect cooking and direct cooking.
If you sear your chicken breast for a few minutes on the direct heat side, you can let the chicken finish cooking on the indirect side of the grill.
How To Prevent Rubbery Fried Chicken
Frying uses high heat to cook food quickly. Since different cuts of chicken have different weights and cooking times, it can be difficult to make sure that all of the chicken parts are cooked thoroughly.
Although you can remove the smaller parts of the chicken from the grease, this could cause contamination since there are still undercooked chickens in the grease. Therefore, fry chicken pieces that are similar in size.
Fry the chicken wings at the same time, or you can fry chicken legs at the same time.
You can cut the chicken breasts or thighs into smaller, uniform pieces so they cook evenly.
In addition to this, you should cook larger pieces first. The breast or thigh will remain hot longer than the wings or legs. So they won’t go cold while you are waiting for the rest of the chicken to cook.
How To Prevent Rubbery Baked Chicken
Baking chicken can also result in undercooked or overcooked chicken. If the chicken is baked at a temperature that’s too high, the moisture in the chicken will dry out, resulting in rubbery chicken.
There’s no way to tell if the chicken is finished baking by looking at its exterior. The temperature is the best way to determine if the chicken is finished cooking.
Chicken is finished cooking when it has a temperature of 165°F, so keep your infrared thermometer handy when cooking chicken.
You can also cut into the chicken at the deepest points of the breast and thigh areas.
If there is blood or the chicken is pink in color, it is not finished cooking. In contrast, if the meat is free of blood and not pink in color, it is finished cooking.
Nevertheless, it is best to monitor the chicken’s internal temperature when determining its doneness.
How To Fix Rubbery Chicken
If you’ve ended up with rubbery chicken, all hope is not lost. Nevertheless, there are multiple tricks you can use to make rubbery chicken palatable.
Nevertheless, do not set your expectations too high, as this will not eliminate the chicken’s rubbery texture.
Braise the Chicken
Use chicken broth as a braising liquid for rubbery chicken. However, canned chicken broth has quite a bit of salt, so do not add too much to the cooked chicken.
Simply place the chicken into a pan with 1/2-1 cup of chicken broth, depending on how much chicken you are cooking.
Cover the chicken with foil and heat it in a 300°F oven for 10-15 minutes.
The chicken will still be relatively rubbery. However, braising the chicken in the chicken broth will soften it up a bit so you won’t have such a hard time chewing it.
Slice the Chicken Thinly
Another way you can combat rubbery chicken is to cut it into smaller, thinner pieces and use it in other dishes.
For example, you can use the chicken in pasta salad, chicken salad, or even potato salad.
This will shift the focus from the rubbery chicken to the other ingredients such as pasta or potatoes.
Cover It With Sauce
To add moisture to the chicken, you can add sauce to it. If you cook the chicken in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, you can use the same pan to make the gravy in. You don’t even have to wash the skillet.
Simply add a few tablespoons of butter to the skillet and scrape up the browned bits of food with the back of a cooking spoon.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of flour and cook it for a few minutes until the flour taste is cooked off.
If you want a darker gravy, cook the flour and butter mixture longer until it has a brown color. Watch the flour-butter mixture carefully as it can burn very easily.
Add chicken broth to the gravy while whisking constantly, and cook the gravy for a few minutes until it thickens up.
Pour the gravy over the chicken and dig in.
No longer do you have to wonder why my chicken is rubbery. You know how to prevent and fix rubbery chicken so say bon voyage to dry chicken.
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.