3+ Reasons for Spongy Chicken & How To Fix It

Overcooked, undercooked, or low-quality meat can lead to spongy chicken. Learn why and how to fix it, plus ideas to salvage rubbery chicken.

spongy chicken

Oh no! You’ve worked hard to make a delicious and healthy dinner for your family, but it turned out to be a disaster: the chicken became spongy, dry, and rubbery. This was not the moist and tender protein you imagined when you read the recipe for your failed dish! 

If you are in this situation, don’t fret. This article will teach you the reasons why your chicken likely became chewy and rubbery and how to avoid this result in the future. As an added bonus, we’ll also provide some ideas for what to do with spongy chicken, so it doesn’t go to waste!

Be sure to read all the way to the end to learn the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about spongy chicken. Ready to dive in? Continue to the next section to get started!

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Why Is My Chicken Chewy And Rubbery?

There are three main reasons that your chicken turned out with a gross texture: overcooking, undercooking, or using low-quality meat. This section will go into detail about each of these possible reasons.

Your Chicken Was Overcooked

The most common reason for spongy chicken is that the meat is overcooked. Since chicken is a relatively lean meat with little fat attached, it should be cooked quickly, at a higher temperature. Overcooking will drain all of the moisture out of the meat and result in tough and chewy protein fibers. 

Your Chicken Was Undercooked

The opposite problem might also be the culprit for your rubbery meat. Undercooked chicken is not only an unappealing texture, but it is also dangerous. There is a reason why you have never heard of “rare poultry breast” the same way that you can order rare beef at a restaurant

Consuming raw or undercooked poultry can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of an infection may include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. If your chicken was spongy and you did not experience any of these symptoms, undercooking was most likely not the reason for your spongy chicken.

You Used Poor Quality Meat

The last possibility has nothing to do with the cooking process. If you began with an inferior product, it is likely that this at least contributed to your unappealing result.

Why does chicken have a weird texture now?

Commercial chickens are fed hormones that cause them to grow at an unnatural rate. This rapid growth can cause more muscular and less tender tissue that ultimately creates “woody” or rubbery meat. You can avoid this by purchasing higher quality meat that has been ethically raised.

What To Do With Spongy Chicken?

Now you know the reasons why chicken becomes spongy and how to avoid them. But what if you have already cooked a bird with an undesirable texture? Is there any way to salvage it? This section will go over some of your options for how to deal with rubbery poultry meat.

Is Rubbery Chicken Ok To Eat? 

Most times, rubbery chicken is safe to eat. It may not be the most pleasant experience, but you should not get sick from consuming rubbery chicken. 

The one exception to this is if your chicken is rubbery because it was undercooked. Consuming undercooked poultry is likely to give you salmonella or another type of food poisoning because the bacteria that grow on the surface and interior of the meat have not been exposed to enough heat to kill them. 

When cooking chicken, be sure that it always reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees to ensure that harmful bacteria are no longer present.

Uses For Rubbery Chicken

As long as your chicken is not undercooked, you have a few options for how to salvage the rubbery poultry and not let it go completely to waste.

Shred it

Overcooked, rubbery chicken may still have a tasty flavor, even though the texture is unappealing. One way of getting around the chewy texture is by shredding the chicken into very small strips to make the texture less noticeable. There are plenty of uses for shredded chicken that will help mask the spongy texture.

Put the shredded chicken into some enchiladas (the yummy sauce will also help distract from any rubberiness!). Alternatively, bake the meat into a pot pie with plenty of veggies and other textural elements that will help make the texture of the meat less apparent.

Feed it to a pet

If you have a dog at home, there is no better way to earn some love from them than by feeding them human food. Plain chicken and rice can be a nutritious meal and a welcome reprieve from dry kibble. 

Be sure not to give chicken bones to a dog, as they can shatter into shards and damage their mouths and internal organs. Do not give the chicken to dogs that have been seasoned with garlic, onion, or other potentially harmful ingredients.

More FAQs

What does it mean when chicken is spongy?

When chicken is spongy, it means that the texture of the chicken is undercooked. Cooked chicken should have a softer mouthfeel with some firmness to it, while undercooked chicken will feel spongy. If the meat feels dense and tough, it may not have been cooked through yet.

How do you tell if chicken is undercooked or overcooked?

The method to determine if chicken is undercooked or overcooked is as follows: When you cut into the chicken, if the juices run clear, then the chicken is fully cooked. However, if the juices are red or have a pinkish color, it indicates that the chicken may need to be cooked a bit longer. This technique is specifically applicable to chicken.

How do you fix spongy chicken?

To fix spongy chicken, you can add more liquid and fat to improve its tenderness and taste. One effective method is to shred the rubbery chicken and incorporate some form of liquid and fat into it before serving. Although you cannot redo the chicken, there are ways to salvage it and make it more enjoyable.

Why is my chicken gooey in the middle?

The chicken in the middle is gooey because it has likely gone bad if you notice any changes in texture, such as increased softness, sliminess, stickiness, or residue. Raw chicken should have a glossy and somewhat soft texture, not slimy, sticky, or tacky. Cooked chicken that has gone bad will usually be slimy, sticky, and overly soft.

What makes chicken soft and tender?

Chicken becomes soft and tender through the process of tenderizing. This involves marinating the chicken and evenly distributing the marinade to the thickest parts of the meat, resulting in a more enjoyable and appetizing dish. Tenderization should be done prior to cooking the chicken, regardless of the cooking method, be it grilling, stovetop heating, slow cooking, or oven baking.

How do restaurants get their chicken so soft?

Restaurants achieve tender chicken by utilizing marinades that consist of a blend of acidic components (such as vinegar, citrus juice, or yogurt) along with aromatic herbs and spices. The proteins in the chicken are broken down by the acid in the marinade, resulting in a softer texture.

Why does my chicken have a weird rubbery texture?

Your chicken has a weird rubbery texture because the chicken breast has been overcooked, causing the protein fibers to lose their elasticity and resulting in a rubbery texture. Overcooking can happen if you forget about your dish on the fire or if you are concerned about undercooked meat.

Why is my chicken still squishy after cooking?

The chicken may still be squishy after cooking if it does not pass the firmness test. To determine if the chicken is done without cutting into it, simply press the piece of meat with your index finger. If it feels spongy or soft, it needs more time in the oven. On the other hand, if it feels firm and springy, then it is cooked through.

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