How to Clean Chicken Wings and Thighs Before Cooking

The wings and thighs are two popular parts of the chicken. You can cook these parts in many ways, but you may need to clean them before you do. Cleaning these parts is a simple process that only requires a few supplies and steps. So how do you clean chicken wings and thighs?

There are different ways to clean chicken wings and thighs. However, the CDC and USDA urge people not to wash or clean their chicken before cooking it. Cleaning chicken through washing can spread bacteria, leading to foodborne illness.

But for others, it’s fine to give the raw chicken a quick rinse in the sink or under running water, as long as you wipe down and sanitize everything that comes into contact with raw chicken meat.

Read on to know more about cleaning chicken wings and thighs, including safe handling tips before cooking them.

Should You Clean Chicken Wings and Thighs Before Cooking

how to clean chicken wings and thighs before cooking

There are two basic schools of thought on washing raw chicken meat. One says you don’t need to wash it, and the other says otherwise.

Does Washing Raw Chicken Spread or Reduce Bacteria?

The first school of thought is that if you wash raw chicken, you’re just spreading bacteria from your kitchen sink to the meat.

The second school of thought is that washing raw chicken reduces the risk of Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter contamination.

So What Should a Cook Do?

It’s science vs. your personal choice. The USDA says that people who wash or rinse raw chicken meat are putting themselves at risk of illness. But again, some cooks prefer to wash raw chicken before cooking to remove dirt and unwanted slime.

How to Clean Chicken Wings

You’re about to cook some chicken wings, but you’ve never cleaned them before. You’re wondering: “How do I clean chicken wings?” Chicken wings are delicious and fun to eat but can get messy.

The good news is that cleaning chicken wings is a simple process that you can do at home or in a professional kitchen. But before you begin, make sure you have everything you need.

Things You’ll Need

  • Chicken wings;
  • Sink with running water;
  • Some paper towels; and
  • A bowl for the chicken wings to sit in while they air dry.


Step 1

Open the faucet and let the cool water flow. One by one, wash the surface of each wing by rinsing it under the water.

Step 2

Look for any feathers or other dirt that has to be removed from the chicken wing. While the chicken wings are still under the faucet, pluck the feathers and clean them with your fingers.

Step 3

Remove the wing from the water and pat it with a paper towel when washing it. Then put the next wing under the water.

Step 4

Repeat this process until all chicken wings are washed and dried using a paper towel.

Step 5

Transfer the cleaned wings into a bowl and cover it with foil or plastic wrap so they don’t dry out while they air dry for about 10 minutes (if not longer). When they’re ready to cook, pat them dry with fresh paper towels again before seasoning them however you like.

Note: Always clean and sanitize all surfaces that the raw chicken may come into touch with to prevent the spread of bacteria.

How Do You Deep Fry Wings?

How to Clean Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are one of the best parts of the chicken, and they’re an economical choice for a family meal or dinner party. If you love chicken thighs and want to get the most out of them, you should know how to clean them.

Things You’ll Need

Here are the things you’ll need:

  • Chicken thighs
  • Sink with running water
  • A cutting board
  • A sharp knife
  • Paper towels


Here’s how to do it:

Step 1

First, rinse the chicken thighs under cold water. Then pat dry with paper towels.

Step 2

Next, use a paring knife or kitchen shears to trim away any excess fat from around the edges of the thighs. This will help keep them from getting too greasy while they cook.

Now that your chicken is cleaned and trimmed, it’s ready for seasoning. Set it aside until you’re ready to cook it up.

Note: Always clean and sanitize all surfaces that the raw chicken may come into touch with to prevent the spread of bacteria.

How Long Should Frozen Chicken Thighs Boil?

How to Clean Chicken Wings with Salt

Cleaning chicken wings with salt is a great way to eliminate the grime and make them look clean and fresh. It’s also a good way to prepare them for cooking.

Things You’ll Need

Here are the things you’ll need:

  • Chicken wings
  • Paper towels
  • Mixing bowl
  • Salt (kosher or sea salt for best results)
  • Airtight container for storage


Here’s how to do it:

Step 1

Rinse your chicken wings under cold water and dry them with paper towels.

Step 2

Place your wings in a bowl and sprinkle salt on them until they’re well coated. Let them sit for about 20 minutes. Rub the salt into both sides of each wing before rinsing them off with cool water and patting them dry with paper towels.

Step 3

Rinse off the salt using cold water and pat dry with paper towels again before cooking or storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Note: Always clean and sanitize all surfaces that the raw chicken may come into touch with to prevent the spread of bacteria.

How to Clean Chicken Wings and Thighs with Lemon Juice and Vinegar

best way to clean chicken wings

Washing raw meat is a popular practice in certain cultures worldwide, as it is seen as a sign of cleanliness in the kitchen. Acidic substances, such as lemon juice or white vinegar, are frequently used in the procedure.

Things You’ll Need

Here are the things you’ll need:

  • Chicken wings or thighs
  • Sink with running water
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed or bottled)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • A shallow glass dish
  • Large bowl
  • Paper towels


Here’s how to do it:

Step 1

In a shallow glass dish, combine the vinegar and lemon juice.

Step 2

Set the chicken pieces in your lemon and vinegar solution after thoroughly rinsing them under cold running water. Add another 2/3 cup lemon juice plus 1 cup vinegar if the chicken pieces aren’t fully covered.

Step 3

Soak chicken wings or thighs for 15 to 20 minutes. Once done, rinse the chicken pieces thoroughly, then pat dry with paper towels.

Again, do chicken thighs need to be washed before cooking? Washing chicken thighs or any poultry is not recommended before you cook them. Washing only spreads germs in your kitchen.

How Long Does It Take to Properly Boil Chicken Thighs?

Benefits of Cleaning Chicken Meat with Food-grade Acidic Solutions

The CDC warns that raw meat under running water will not eliminate germs. Washing meat under running water raises the risk of germs spreading by contaminating other surfaces and raw foods, such as salads or fruits.

Both vinegar and lemons are acidic, which can help disinfect the chicken meat and make it tender enough to cook. They also provide a clean base for rubs and marinades.

Additional research shows that washing the meat’s surface with an acidic solution, such as vinegar or lemon juice, as opposed to washing with ordinary water, reduces the bacterial count on raw meat.

Tips for Handling Raw Chicken Safely

When mishandling raw meat, the biggest food safety worry is cross-contamination. There are a few things to remember while handling raw chicken to avoid cross-contamination and keep your kitchen safe:

1. Don’t Wash Raw Chicken Meat

As much as possible, steer clear of washing chicken with water, soaking it, or cleaning it with vinegar. If you use paper towels to pat the meat dry, discard those towel(s) right away, then wash your hands.

2. Avoid Using Porous Surfaces

Keep an eye out for raw chicken on the cutting board or countertop. The tiny openings on a butcher block, wooden cutting board, or other unsealed hard surfaces will take in and hold onto raw chicken liquids.

If you have no other option, scrape the surface with steel wool or another abrasive scrubber that can penetrate the surface cracks while using hot water and a little bleach to clean it. However, this cleaning approach will wear down the material over time.

3. Use a Different Chopping Board for Raw Chicken

Use a different chopping board for raw chicken (preferably dishwasher safe) instead of the one you use for all the other ingredients. This makes it less likely for salmonella bacteria to spread from the cutting board to another surface or food ingredient.

Salmonella pathogens can result in food poisoning or other salmonella-related infections if not cooked and eliminated.

4. Thoroughly Cook Chicken

Cooking chicken to at least 165°F for chicken breast or to an even higher temperature for dark meat, such as chicken wings or chicken legs, is the best defense against foodborne illness.

Cooking chicken to this internal temperature minimizes the risk of sickness. To get an accurate reading, insert a food thermometer into the thickest section of the chicken, being careful not to hit the bone.

5. Wash Your Hands Regularly

After handling raw chicken, quickly wash your hands. Even when uncooked, raw poultry, including chicken, usually leaks juices. The juice might still get on your hands, no matter how careful you are. Use enough soap and hot water to wash your hands.

6. Clean Your Kitchen Tools Properly

After handling raw chicken, using the dishwasher’s sanitize setting is the best method to wash kitchen tools. This eliminates germs that may be present on cutting boards, blades, and other tools. If that isn’t an option, clean the kitchen tools with hot, soapy water instead.

7. Wipe Down Entire Kitchen Surfaces

Once the chicken is cooked and the kitchen tools have been thoroughly cleaned, clean the entire area with a sanitizing wipe. This includes surfaces that might have become contaminated, such as countertops, kitchen faucets, door handles, and knobs.

Frequently Asked Questions – Cleaning Chicken Wings and Thighs Before Cooking

how to clean chicken wings with salt

Do You Clean Chicken Wings Before Cooking?

Before cooking, you shouldn’t wash any raw chicken, meat, or eggs. Each of them might transmit germs throughout your kitchen. Germs are killed if you cook chicken thoroughly.

What to Clean Chicken with Before Cooking?

You can check if raw chicken meat is still edible by rinsing or soaking it in a vinegar or lemon juice bowl. To avoid further health risks, don’t cook meat that gives off an unpleasant odor after acid rinsing.

How Much Vinegar Do You Use to Clean Chicken?

Submerge at least half of your chicken in the liquid. If it needs more lemon juice and vinegar, add another 2/3 cup.

Which Vinegar Is Best for Chicken?

The best vinegar for chicken and fish dishes is white wine vinegar, which you may also use as pickling brine. The flavor of champagne vinegar is the mildest. It works well for preparing lighter dishes like chicken, fish, and salads with light greens.

Do Restaurants Wash Chicken?

Most restaurant managers reported a cleaning policy for the tools and surfaces used to process raw chicken. Most of these policies include the three main steps, which are USFDA’s recommended methods of cleaning: washing, rinsing, and sanitizing.

Should I Soak Chicken Wings in Salt Water?

Although brining chicken wings is not required, it always produces softer, juicier, and tastier meat when done correctly. Let’s start by defining what brine is. It’s very simple: salt and water make up a brine.

Conclusion – How to Clean and Prepare Chicken Wings and Thighs

There are different ways to clean chicken. And the decision of whether or not to wash or clean raw chicken wings and thighs before cooking is a personal one.

However, the CDC and USDA recommend not washing or cleaning raw chicken before cooking because doing so can spread bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness. This is something that people should be aware of when choosing whether or not to wash their raw chicken.

How about you? Do you clean raw chicken wings or thighs before cooking them?

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