The amount of time needed for baked chicken will depend on a few different factors. For example, the amount of chicken you are cooking at one time, the individual sizes of the pieces being cooked, the oven temperature and even if the chicken is being baked with other ingredients, such as breading, sauces, soups or gravies.
Most recipes will call for baking chicken between 350º F and 425º F. Anything in this range will work fine, the higher the temperature, the less time it will take before your chicken is cooked. However, some pieces, such as chicken breasts may become dry if cooked at too high of a temperature. It can help retain some of the moisture if you cover the pan with foil for the first 20 minutes of cooking. Also, whole chickens that are cut in pieces are not always the best way to bake a chicken. White mean and dark meat will need different times to cook and the various sizes make it almost impossible to cook everything until done, while keeping the smaller pieces moist and flavorful.
The best way to check for doneness is to use an instant read thermometer; this is an indispensable piece of equipment in any well-equipped kitchen. Chicken should always be tested at the thickest point, being careful to not touch the bone. It needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 165º F and should maintain that temperature for at least fifteen seconds. See the chart below for more precise temperature guidelines.
Helpful Hints for Baking Chicken:
• Boneless and skinless chicken will have a little less flavor and tends to be a little drier, whereas, chicken that still has the skin on and bone-in will be more flavorful, juicy and tender.
• Always thoroughly wash everything the raw chicken comes in contact with, use hot water and soap to reduce the risk of harmful salmonella poisoning.
• If you do not have an instant read thermometer, take one of the largest pieces of chicken and make a small cut in its thickest part; if the juices run clear and there is no pink, your chicken is done.
• Individually frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be baked without thawing. Brush with oil or melted butter, season to taste and bake in a 375º F oven for 35 to 40 minutes.