The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat chicken. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What chicken etiquette is

Chicken etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat chicken. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve chicken to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat chicken at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat chicken

What you should know about chicken

Chickens are domesticated birds that are commonly raised for their meat, eggs, and feathers.

Chicken meat typically has a light pink color, a tender and juicy texture, and a mild flavor. The appearance of raw chicken can vary, but it typically has smooth skin, plump and firm flesh, and may have some visible fat. Cooked chicken can range in color from white to brown, depending on the cooking method.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat chicken

1) How to store chicken

The ideal temperature to store chicken is below 40°F (4°C). You should store raw chicken in the fridge for up to 2 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months. It is best to avoid storing it in the pantry. When storing chicken, you should keep it in an airtight container to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.

Store sliced or cooked chicken in the same way as raw chicken. Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 4 months.

2) How to clean chicken

To clean chicken, you should rinse it with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. It is important to handle chicken carefully to avoid cross-contamination with other foods. The use of utensils such as knives and cutting boards dedicated to chicken can help prevent cross-contamination.

Signs that chicken has turned bad include a sour or ammonia-like odor, a slimy texture, and a grayish color. If you are unsure if the chicken has gone bad, it is best to discard it.

3) How to prepare & cook chicken

Chicken should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to kill harmful bacteria. Common ways to prepare chicken include baking, grilling, frying, and roasting. Utensils such as knives and cutting boards dedicated to chicken should be used to prepare it, and it should be cooked on a clean surface to prevent cross-contamination. Raw chicken should not be consumed as it may contain harmful bacteria.

Chicken is a versatile ingredient and can be used in a variety of dishes such as salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, curries, and stir-fries.

It is not suitable for vegans but may be suitable for those following a keto or paleo diet. Some people may have allergies or food intolerances to chicken, and some religious dietary restrictions may forbid the consumption of chicken.

4) How to serve & present chicken

Chicken can be appropriate for both formal and informal meals. It is best to serve it as a main course, while it is not common to serve it as a side dish, appetizer, or snack.

You should serve chicken at a temperature of 165°F (74°C) and present it on a plate or in a bowl. Serving utensils such as tongs and forks can be appropriate to serve chicken. It is polite to provide a separate plate or bowl for bones and other waste.

You can accompany chicken with a variety of seasonings and accompaniments such as herbs, spices, sauces, and marinades. Common accompaniments include rice, vegetables, and salad.

5) Food and wine to pair chicken with

Chicken pairs well with a variety of flavors such as garlic, lemon, thyme, and rosemary. It can pair with a range of vegetables and fruits including broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and apples. It is important to avoid pairing chicken with fruits that have high acidity levels as they can cause the meat to become tough and dry.

Chicken can pair well with cheese and dairy. Some of the best cheese pairings include parmesan, feta, goat cheese, and cheddar. You can use dairy products like cream and butter to create creamy sauces for chicken. Avoid any overpowering or strongly flavored cheese that may clash with the mild flavor of the chicken.

You can pair it with other meats too, such as bacon or ham. However, it is important to keep in mind the flavors and textures of the meats. Fish or seafood pairings are not always elegant but may be acceptable, such as salmon or shrimp. Avoid pairings with meats or fish that are too strongly flavored, as they may overpower the mild taste of chicken.

The best wine pairings for chicken depend on the preparation and seasoning of the dish. For white wine, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio are all good options. For red wine, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon can all complement chicken dishes. Rosé wine can also be a good choice, as well as sparkling wine or beer. It is best to avoid heavily oaked wines that may clash with the mild flavor of the meat.

6) How to eat chicken

When eating chicken, it’s polite to use utensils such as a knife and fork. Eating chicken with your fingers is generally not considered polite unless it’s a specific dish or cultural tradition. Discard any bones or gristle and do not eat the skin if it is not to your liking. Use a napkin to clean your hands and face as needed.

Chicken etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common chicken etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Not properly cooking the chicken.
  • 6/10. Serving it too cold or too hot.
  • 6/10. Using the wrong utensils.

Additional information for properly serving chicken

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

The number of calories in chicken depends on the cut and cooking method. A skinless chicken breast contains approximately 120-150 calories per 100 grams or 165-195 calories per serving.

How to buy the best chicken

A crucial factor in chicken etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Chicken is available all year round. You can easily find it in most grocery stores and supermarkets. However, it is best to buy chicken during the peak season, which is generally between May and September. This is when chicken is typically the most plentiful and least expensive.

Choose the best

Chicken can be found fresh, frozen, canned, and in other forms such as chicken nuggets, strips, and patties. Fresh chicken is typically found in the meat section of grocery stores, while frozen chicken can be found in the frozen food section. Canned chicken is often found near other canned meats or in the soup aisle.

The most popular varieties of chicken in commerce include broiler/fryer chickens, which are typically the most commonly consumed variety in the United States. Other varieties include free-range, organic, and heritage chickens. The most prized varieties are typically those that are raised in free-range or organic conditions and have a higher quality of life and diet.

When buying chicken, look for meat that is firm to the touch, has a mild odor, and is not discolored or slimy. Choose meat that is pink or beige in color and avoid meat that has a gray or greenish tint. Chicken that is labeled as organic or free-range is often of higher quality and may be worth the extra cost.

Alternatives to chicken

Some common alternatives to chicken include turkey, beef, pork, fish, and tofu. These alternatives can be used in recipes that call for chicken and can be prepared in similar ways.