Why is water coming out of chicken when cooking | How to minimize it

Why is water coming out of chicken when cooking
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You may have noticed that while cooking your chicken, it releases moisture. There are various factors that may contribute to the release of moisture and various methods of minimizing this from occurring.

You may even consider the quality of the chicken and whether or not this is the underlying reason for what seems to be excess water/moisture in the chicken.

So what exactly is this water that comes out of the chicken when cooking it, and how do you avoid or minimize it?

Chicken will release water during the cooking process. This is normal. However, this is usually no more than a tablespoon or three of liquid. If there is excessive moisture/water release, it may be a result of improper cooking techniques, improper thawing, marinating, or not properly drying the chicken before cooking it. Alternatively, it may be a result of the chicken being injected with water by the supermarket selling the chicken.

Why does water come out of chicken when frying or cooking?

When chicken is cooked, fried, roasted, or baked, there is a small amount of liquid that is released during this process. This is usually no more than a few tablespoons, depending on the size and amount of chicken.

Furthermore, when taking your chicken out of the refrigerator, you may want to pat the chicken dry first. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, patting down the chicken will help to ensure a crispier exterior when you fry the chicken. Secondly, it will prevent the release of excess moisture during the cooking process. If the chicken releases excess moisture, it will still steam until it is cooked, but it will not be crispy.

Furthermore, another reason for watery chicken may be improper cooking. Sometimes you may be in a rush, and you end up cooking all your chicken in one go in a small frying pan. Overcrowding the frying pan means that the chicken is not properly making contact with the hot surface of the pan.

This is necessary for the chicken to brown and thereby seal the chicken during the initial part of the cooking process, which will prevent the excessive release of water or moisture.

Some marinades may cause the chicken to retain additional water, which is also released during the cooking process.

And lastly, frozen chicken that has not been properly thawed and is not cooked at the right temperature may retain additional water, which will also be released during the cooking process.

And finally, some slaughter houses will drop the chicken in an ice-cold bath after the slaughter is complete as this causes the chicken to heat up. In order to quickly cool down the chicken for storage, this method is applied. The chicken absorbs a lot of this water. It then releases the water during the cooking process.

How to remove excess water from chicken

There are various techniques that you can apply to help minimize the excess water that is being released by your chicken. These range from what you choose to marinate your chicken in, how you defrost your chicken, the cooking method, or the handling technique.

Pat down raw chicken

As previously mentioned, pat down the chicken before frying it. This will help to reduce the amount of water being released when the chicken is being cooked and will ensure a crispier final product.

Take your time when cooking chicken

When you cook chicken, be sure to take your time to properly cook the chicken. This means not overcrowding the pan in order to save time. Rather cook the chicken breast, chicken thighs, and chicken drumsticks in batches, making sure to properly sear the chicken on high heat.

A properly seared piece of chicken may help to prevent moisture release during cooking.

After the chicken has been seared and there is a coating that will prevent the release of excess water, turn down the heat and allow the chicken to cook slowly until it is done.

Marinade properly

When opting to marinade your chicken, the best way to do this is in a Ziploc bag that properly seals. Alternatively, you may want to go for a dry rub instead. Especially if you know that the chicken has a high water content. Opt for a dry rub with sugar or salt. This is because the dry rub will draw out any excess moisture from the chicken.

Make sure to properly thaw your chicken before cooking

Allow your chicken to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This may help to reduce the water content in the chicken and prevent the chicken from releasing excess moisture/water during the cooking process.

Why is water added to chicken?

Some manufacturers inject their chicken with a liquid solution. This helps to plump up the chicken and make it appear more appealing to customers. The solution consists of salt, water, flavoring, and sodium or potassium phosphate. This process is known as plumping. And, it’s intention is to make the chicken appear more appetizing and fuller.

This liquid is absorbed by the chicken, and the mixture allows the chicken to retain the water. This process is known as brining. In some instances, the chicken absorbs an excess amount of liquid, causing the chicken to taste water-logged.

Is plumping chicken unhealthy?

Plumped chicken may contain as much as 2000 mg and 5000 mg of sodium per single serving.

This is more than the daily recommended amount as set out by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is approximately 25% more than the daily recommended amount.

Is organic chicken plumped?

Yes. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA), both water and salt are considered to be natural. This now opens the door for organic chicken to be pumped as well.

A key point to keep in mind, is that standard chicken breast is usually only five to six ounces in weight. If the chicken breast is larger than that, there is a high likelihood that the chicken has been injected with a solution.


I am a kind of person that would sneak a taste out of grandma’s pot when I was barely tall enough to reach it. I grew up in kitchens full of love and liveliness and have spent my whole live learning, experimenting and succeeding in the art of cooking. At Pro Family Chef, every day is an opportunity for a new meal and a brand new flavor. I created this website to connect people that love to cook, with the products designed to make their cooking easier, hassle-free and rewarding every time.

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