How Much Does Raw Chicken Weigh When Cooked?


raw chicken fillets

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There is so much more to a raw chicken than just its meat. The white meat of a chicken contains high amounts of glycogen that creates water during cooking. At the same time, this water causes weight loss as it evaporates and the cell membranes in the chicken contract, thus removing fat deposits from the cells.

If a question arises about how much raw chicken weigh when cooked, the answer is not always straightforward. A whole cooked chicken will weigh about 3-5 pounds when cooked. The legs, thighs, and breasts of this chicken may weigh more due to the density of meat in those pieces.

An average cooked chicken meal usually consists of whole cooked chicken alongside gravy, wine, and side dishes. Of course, you can get a whole chicken and cook it all by yourself without the help of a butcher. But if you would like to cook your own meal, then you should know what to look out for when cooking.  

Why Does Chicken Lose Weight When Cooked?

This is a question that many people ask, yet there is no one answer. Chicken loses weight when it is cooked. It is because there are enzymes in the muscle cells which break down proteins and reduce their amounts. 

When this happens, the chicken loses water in the form of vapor and becomes less dense. In order to regain its original size, the animal needs to drink more water or consume other liquids. So, if a chicken weighs less than its original weight, it is because it is losing water.

In other words, the vapor replaces the water in the muscle. Then it is condensed into liquid again. According to the amount of moisture lost during cooking, this process can take from several hours to a few days or even weeks. Usually, this happens at low temperatures.

The method of cooking is not important since all forms of cooking reduce the weight of chicken, but how long it is cooked does matter. Cooking in a microwave oven, for example, results in less moisture loss than a roasting process. The heat affects the molecular structure of chicken, resulting in better-tasting meat and crispier skin.

During the roasting process, different products are formed which result in the formation of a brown crust and make the skin more tender. This crust also makes it possible to better preserve the meat juices, which ensures juicier meat.

How chicken loses weight when cooked may depend on the type of chicken being cooked. For example, skinless chicken breast loses weight faster than dark meat and the difference is not so pronounced as in older birds which are more difficult to cook properly.

Another thing to consider is that water loss is not uniform for all parts of the chicken. The amount of water loss increases from the top to the bottom of the chicken. The breast meat is less dense than the thigh and drumstick, so it loses more water than these parts of the bird.

Chicken Weight Measurement After Cooking

Measuring chicken weight after cooking is a task that most people do not think about until they need it. It is not that difficult, but it may be an unfamiliar process for some. Once you know how to do it, you will find that it saves time and money. The same happened to me.

I measure the weight of the uncooked chicken before cooking. This is because meat loses its original weight when cooked. A loss of about 3 percent is common for raw chicken after cooking. 

I use a digital meat scale to measure the weight of uncooked chicken pieces or a measuring cup. While doing so, I make sure that the digital scale has high accuracy and precision in its measurements.

I place the cooked chicken pieces on a clean, flat surface. Then using a chef’s knife or meat slicer, I cut the cooked chicken into bite-size pieces. Later using a digital scale or measuring cup, I measure the weight of each piece of cooked chicken.  While doing so, I keep an accurate count of all the total weight that I have recorded as well as all my measurements.

I calculate my chicken yields by subtracting all the total weights from your original uncooked weight. To calculate the cooking yield, I take the calculated cooking weight, divide it by the original uncooked weight, and then multiply that answer by 100 percent. The final number is my percent yield of cooked chicken. 

Possible Pitfalls When Measuring Cooked Chicken Weight 

There are some possible pitfalls that I face when measuring cooked chicken weight. I am sharing them so they might help you in times of need.

Incorrect Measurement of the Chicken

It is important to weigh the chicken before and after cooking. When I measure my uncooked, raw chicken, make sure that I count all pieces and that each piece is accounted for. Don’t forget to measure the bones. I also make sure that I don’t include any packing weights in my measurements.

Inaccurate Cooking Measurements

Cooking volumes are also important. When I measure the chicken or meat after cooking, I use an accurate digital scale or measuring cup to measure the weight of my cooked pieces.

For example, a digital scale that only has a capacity of 16 ounces can not show me 3 ounces more when I have cooked five pounds of chicken portions. It is a good idea to have at least a small capacity scale that has at least 0.5 oz resolution and 100 g (3.5 oz) capacity.

Lack of Temperature and Timer Control

Undercooked or overcooked meat, chicken, or turkey is always possible no matter how good you are at cooking. To ensure my meat cooks evenly, I use an accurate meat thermometer to measure the temperature of all chicken portions. I do this before I start cooking them. Moreover, I use a timer for each pan. This ensures that the time I put on it is accurate and consistent for each piece of meat.

Lack of Overlapping Cooking Times

When you cook meat, all pieces do not cook at the same speed. By fixing some meats first and then cooking other meats later, I ensure that they have time to finish cooking in a natural manner. 

It also ensures my meat is cooked evenly. When I measure chicken weight after cooking, I make sure to keep all pieces of meat in the oven for about the same length of time and at the same temperature.

Improperly Prepared Ingredient

Some recipes call for ingredients that may be added after the chicken has been cooked. For example, a recipe may call for adding sugar, ketchup, or wine to cooked meat. When I measure my uncooked chicken, I do not add these ingredients. I make sure to add them once the meat has been almost cooked. And to do so, I use accurate measuring tools.

Significance of Chicken Losing Weight While Cooking

Knowing when and how much weight chicken loses during cooking is essential for any home or professional cook. First of all, it helps you choose your ingredients while considering weight loss and water evaporation. 

It also gives you an idea of how long to cook your chicken so as not to turn it dry. This is especially important when making chicken fry. We’ve already talked about how cooking denatures proteins. So, in case you are making a soupy dish, overcooking can turn the meat to mush. So, it is important that you keep this in mind.

Chef Rooney

I like to cook. It makes me happy, and I know it does the same for others. If you ever want to learn how to make a great dish, just ask!

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