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Steps To Follow Before You Cook Chicken – The Complete Kitchen Guide

For all the chicken lovers out there, we know that there’s truth that not all chicken is cooked perfectly, even the Chinese takeaway ones. Chicken is a super satisfying meal and is very easy to cook, but there are tricks that one can follow to make sure that it’s cooked to perfection.

This one time, I had to look up how to reheat general Tso chicken because the leftovers just wouldn’t taste the same. Then, I realized it all comes down to how you cook your chicken. Cooked chicken never tasted bland, rubbery, or off ever again!

steps before cooking the chicken

Buying Chicken

Before purchasing chicken, it’s essential to read the package label to understand what parts of the chicken you are buying. You also need to carefully read the package descriptions, weight, and expiry date.

The sell-by-date expiry date is 7 to 10 days after the chicken was slaughtered. Many packages also have an additional use-by date, so you should ensure this chicken is cooked before this date.

Ideally, plump and moist chicken is the best kind. Try to avoid buying transparent or patchy ones.

The chicken dish often tastes absolutely delicious when you first cook it, but after reheating the leftovers, the taste immediately deteriorates. So, when you make any flavorful Chinese dish like general tso’s chicken, keep this in mind to properly reheat your general Tso chicken or any other chicken dish to ensure its taste and freshness are still intact. Check the low-carb version here.

If you buy fresh chicken, avoid buying meat that has no signs of being frozen. If poultry is not frozen immediately after cutting, there is a high risk of bacteria being formed in the chicken.  

Buying Chicken

Freezing and Storing Chicken

Moisture-proof bags are best for freezing chicken. Some people opt for wax paper, which is not great for holding moisture. When you freeze it yourself, make sure you write the date when it is frozen. If you like to pack the pieces separately, label them appropriately.

If you have a big family to feed, you don’t need to worry about storing an entire chicken in one bag, but you might want to package the pieces separately if that’s not the case. Perhaps two pieces or more to only take out the number of pieces you intend to cook. Please use aluminum foil to wrap these individual pieces before freezing them.

Pro tip: For cooked chicken, this tip is gold. Try using moisture-proof bags to store leftover chicken dishes. You’ll never have to look up how to reheat general Tso chicken ever again.

Freezing and Storing Chicken

Cooking Tips

Here are some tips and tricks that you can follow before cooking your chicken.

Plan According To Your Recipe

Firstly, plan according to the recipe requirements. Most recipes have a desired amount of chicken, but if you are going to personalize the recipe, try to determine how many pieces or how much you intend to cook. Please note: a single pound of boneless chicken is equivalent to three cups of chicken cut in cubes.

Trussed or Untrussed

For chicken roast, it’s better to use untrussed chicken than a trussed chicken. This is because untrussed chicken helps cook the chicken evenly and much faster. Trussing is the technique used to tie the chicken with a string. To confirm if the chicken is done, always check by holding the leg. Try to move the piece around. If you feel it is coming off from the joint, it’s cooked. If it’s still tough, you may have to leave for an extended time.

Oven Cooked Chicken

If you are cooking the chicken in the oven, you should consider keeping it uncovered – only if you want the chicken to be cooked faster. Covered chicken takes much longer to cook. But, you can always take more time if you want to enjoy a slow-cooked chicken dish.

Oven Cooked Chicken

Some Pieces Cook Faster Than Others

For other ways of cooking, such as grilling, stir-frying, sauteing, or even broiling, make sure that you are taking out the pieces as soon as they are cooked. Some pieces take more time than others. The pieces that are white, such as wings and breasts, usually get cooked faster than thighs and legs.

Do Not OverCrowd Your Cooking Pan or Pot

Never overcrowd chicken pieces when you put them on the pan. Make sure the pan has ample space for the chicken pieces to be cooked evenly. Follow this tip if you like your chicken to have a brown texture.

Marinating Is Key

Marinating the chicken is the best advice anyone can give. If you like to bite into juicy, moist, and tender chicken, it’s best to marinate it for a few hours, regardless of how you wish to cook it. This also applies to stir-fried chicken. If you use the right spices to marinade it, the texture of the chicken will be perfect. The trick is to marinade it for maximum impact rather than overcooking the life out of it. No one enjoys a rubbery textured chicken.

Marinating chicken

Always Use a Sharp Knife

A sharp knife is essential for carving or cutting the chicken pieces evenly. It’s always nicer to eat neatly cut chicken pieces. Plus, you need to put in less effort while cutting it. Note: the joint areas will not cut with a blunt knife, in fact the chicken pieces can be ruined if you don’t use a good quality sharp knife.

Say Yes To Skin

We highly recommend you leave the skin on. It helps to hold the meat moisture while it cooks. If you like crispy-skinned chicken, it’s best to use chicken breast pieces. It’s the most delicious meal if cooked properly. Chicken breast is known to have very little fat, so leaving the skin ensures that the moisture in the chicken is still intact.

If you don’t particularly enjoy chicken skin, simply peel it off before eating it. Simple!

chicken skin

Use Buttermilk To Tenderize

Buttermilk makes all the difference for sure. If you love your chicken to be super juicy, this tip must be followed by you every time you cook chicken, especially fried chicken. Leave it in buttermilk for a maximum of two hours; it does the job of tenderizing it to perfection. After taking it out from the buttermilk, you can add spices to it before throwing it in the pan.


Finally, never rinse chicken. There is a misconception that rinsing chicken before cooking can kill all the bacteria or germs. Well, it’s the opposite; it actually instead spreads the germs.

The only way to wash your chicken correctly is to run the water on your sink while cleaning it.

Hopefully, now you can enjoy your cooked or takeaway chicken dishes without worrying about how to reheat General Tso chicken.

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