Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Share My Kitchen
This article answers what causes rubbery chicken breasts, and how to fix it once it occurs. You’ve cooked dinner, and it is a chicken recipe that you have made many times. You followed every step of the recipe, but the chicken came out rubbery.
This situation is so frustrating!
A lot of things can cause rubbery chicken and some of which may not have anything to do with the way you cook it. Maybe the chicken is to blame.
When do we encounter rubbery chicken?
People tend to serve boneless, skinless chicken breasts since they are easy to prepare, and cook and they are convenient. Recently, however, some chicken breasts have become rubbery in texture. It has happened to everyone, and it is frustrating.
There are many things that can cause chicken breasts to become rubbery. Some of these factors are within your control; some are beyond. So, let’s get to it! Never again will you cook rubbery chicken.
Why Is Your Chicken Breast Rubbery?
The Chicken Is Over or Undercooked
Overcooking chicken can lead to rubbery chicken. Chicken tastes best when it is cooked quickly with relatively high heat.
Most breasts without bone and skin do not have the same thickness. Therefore, it is difficult to cook them evenly.
How to avoid overcooking chicken
To avoid overcooking, make sure the chicken has a uniform thickness. Place the chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Then, use a meat mallet to hit it and achieve an even thickness. You can also use a rolling pin or a heavy pan.
However, you cannot just look at the meat to tell if it has been fully cooked. You can use a meat thermometer to properly check if your meat is fully cooked. Once the temperature reaches 165°, it is done.
The Chicken Lacks Moisture
Lack of moisture is the next reason for rubbery chicken. While dry chicken occurs when you overcook it, chicken can also dry out on its own. Because it’s very lean, it can dry out quickly.
Chicken can become dry before cooking. Therefore, make sure it is covered properly until you are ready to cook it, or when you are marinating. The best way to keep the air out is using freezer bags.
How to solve moisture problems with chicken
You can soak your chicken in heavily salted water prior to cooking to avoid having dry, rubbery chicken due to lack of moisture.
This also helps break down some of its muscle fibers and tenderize them. Some of the brine can be absorbed into the meat to prevent dryness. You can also soak the chicken in pickle juice prior to cooking.
Natural Causes of Rubbery Chicken
Let’s say you have brined the chicken, and cooked it at a safe temperature. But, it still feels rubbery. We can now blame the chicken.
Woody Chicken Breast
Woody Chicken Breast refers to a condition in which the muscle fibers become tight and knotted. This disease affects between 5-10% of chickens raised in the US. Retailers sell chickens with mild cases of this disease.
White Striping in Chicken
It is not only woody chicken breasts that result in rubbery chicken. White Striping is another issue that can affect chickens, and it is exactly what its name suggests.
The issue here is that the meat has white stripes that look similar to wood grain across the breasts running parallel to its muscle.
White striping is a problem with the chicken’s quality. It can degrade the flavor of the chicken and nutritional value. This results in less tender meat, so it does not absorb marinade easily and it has more fat.
Is the Rubbery Chicken Safe to Eat?
Yes! You can eat rubbery chicken. It will only have a less pleasant texture and taste.
How to Avoid White Striping and Woody Chicken Breast?
Although the exact cause of this problem is unknown, it is believed that efforts to raise larger chickens may have led to an increase in muscle density.
Compassion In World Farming (CIWF) has released a report linking these conditions with breeding chickens that grow too quickly.
While the causes of muscle disorders such as white striping remain elusive, the overwhelming majority of studies have shown a correlation between rapid growth, heavyweight, higher breast yield, and the development of myopathies in broilers.
If chickens grow too fast, their muscle fibers become stiff and cause woody chicken and white stripes.
Woody Chicken Breasts and White Striping are both thought to be genetic problems. These problems continue because the breeds that produce the best results are bred more often.
There are many ways to avoid white-striped or woody chicken breasts.
Let’s take a look at them.
Recent research has shown that only a small percentage of people eat Kosher meat for religious reasons.
Producing Kosher food is done in accordance with strict religious dietary guidelines at specially equipped facilities that are under rabbinical supervision. To draw out blood, the meat must be heavily salted.
A lot of people believe that white striping and woody breasts can be avoided because salt kills bacteria. However, the Kosher practices won’t prevent woody chicken or white striping since genetics cause them, not bacteria.
Kosher chickens are noy raised in any other way.
Organic chicken, just like other organic food, has its benefits. However, does that mean it will be immune to these problems?
The same issues can be found in organic chickens. So, buying organic does not prevent rubbery chicken.
Non-organic and natural chickens are quickly bred. So, they can also have white stripes or woody breasts.
You can choosing chickens that are grown in a natural pace is a good way to avoid rubbery chicken.
According to the CIWF, you should look out for labels that indicate slower-growing or heritage breeds. The Animal Welfare Approved certification label specifically requires slower-growing breeds. So, more companies are now committing to heritage breed chickens.
These breeds will be the only “Animal Welfare Certified” products by 2024. Look out for Certified GAP 4 ratings on chickens if you’re shopping today. This means they have fully moved to better varieties.
No matter what chicken type you choose, make sure to inspect it for any signs of problems before buying.
How to Fix Rubbery Chicken?
So, you have now learned this information, then you think you have dry, rubbery chicken in your hands. What should you do?
Make a Pan Sauce
You cannot alter the texture, or add moisture back to the chicken. But, you can make a quick pan sauce to add moisture and flavor to your chicken.
A pan sauce is a way to preserve the flavors of the chicken bits in the pan. To draw out the flavor, all you need is liquid. It also does not have to be fancy.
Heat some liquid (water, wine, or broth) in a hot pan over medium to high heat. Then, scrape up the bits, and add some butter.
Rubbery Chicken in Soup
You don’t have to throw away food. You may add the rubbery chicken in any soup. Its broth will add moisture to the chicken, so it won’t be as dry.