Have you ever planned to make a delicious new chicken dish, only to find that the chicken smells like eggs?
If so, you’re not alone: most of us have experienced such an odorous, onerous dilemma.
What should you do? Is it normal when cooked or raw chicken smells like eggs? If it only slightly smells of eggs–that is, it smells a bit like a boiled egg– is it still okay to cook and eat it?
Is it only necessary to throw out the chicken if it has a strong smell like rotten eggs?
Unfortunately, when people try to locate information to answer these questions, they’ll find a great deal of conflicting information.
With this article, we’ll try to overcome such misinformation by discussing:
- Why raw, fresh, or cooked chicken may smell like eggs
- When it’s safe to eat chicken with a smell
- When you should immediately throw the chicken away
- How to properly store chicken
Why Does Raw/Cooked Chicken Smell Like Eggs?
A chicken may give off an egg-like smell due to:
- Spoiling of blood within the chicken
- Oxidation of the chicken’s packaging: Oxidation, a chemical chain reaction that develops when oxygen is present, causes deterioration of the quality of food, resulting in off-odors.
- The presence of Salmonella in the chicken
Reason 1. Fowl Blood Spoiling
The chicken’s blood may spoil more quickly than the meat, which can cause chicken to smell like boiled eggs.
Yet if you note a bit of an eggy smell when you unwrap chicken, this does not automatically mean that it isn’t safe to eat.
Using water, you can thoroughly rinse the chicken and have it rest for a few minutes or so to eliminate the boiled egg odor.
Once the chicken no longer has an eggy smell, you can cook the meat, ensuring that it reaches an internal temperature of >165 degrees Fahrenheit (F). It’s then safe to prepare, serve, and eat your chicken dish.
Reason 2. Packaging
Another culprit responsible for your chicken’s eggy smell or when chicken smells like sulfur may be its vacuum-sealed packaging.
Unless you purchase chicken from a butcher or over-the-counter while grocery shopping, your frozen or fresh chicken is wrapped in vacuum-sealed packaging. If fresh chicken smells like eggs it may be poorly packaged.
When packaging chicken, oxygen is removed and a preservative gas is added, which leads to the eggy odor, called a “confinement smell,” in vacuum-packed chicken. The confinement smell does not impact the chicken’s freshness or quality.
You may also note that vacuum-packed chicken appears a bit darker than fresh chicken. Removing oxygen during the packaging process causes the color of the meat to change from pink to red.
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, and the boiled egg odor should no longer be present. Once again, be sure to cook the chicken until its internal temperature is at least 165 degrees F.
In contrast, if the eggy smell doesn’t dissipate, there may be something wrong with the meat itself, so it’s safest to throw it out.
Reason 3. Spoilage Bacteria
The bacteria Salmonella enterica may contaminate chicken and egg food products, a common cause of food poisoning.
Salmonella may cause bacterial enterocolitis. Associated symptoms may include bloody, mucoid diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, and fever.
Contamination with Salmonella causes eggs and chicken to release a gas that smells like sulfur.
However, when cooking properly and reaching an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F, the bacteria is made harmless.
Importantly, even if your chicken smells fresh, it’s critical to cook it at the correct temperature since raw chicken can cause food poisoning or carry diseases.
How Can You Tell If Chicken is Bad?
How can you tell if chicken is bad? To cook or not to cook? Typically, that will immediately be clear.
The chicken will look bad, and it will have a terrible smell of rotten eggs, ammonia, or other deeply unpleasant odors that may cause you to gag. Immediately throw it away, and wash your hands thoroughly.
If your raw chicken appears to be fresh but starts to smell rotten or changes from pinkish to a greyish color as you’re cooking it, these changes signal that the chicken has spoiled. Throw it away immediately.
Fresh raw chicken is bright pink, tender, yet firm, and has no smell. The longer the chicken remains in the refrigerator, the more these features will change.
If your chicken appears a bit dark yet looks fine and has no smell, you should be able to cook, serve, and eat the chicken safely.
If you find that a frozen chicken smells like eggs while removing it from the freezer, it’s probably okay for consumption–but it’s safest not to eat it.
Other factors for consideration
It’s important to consider several other factors to make an informed choice on whether or not you should cook, serve, and eat chicken with an eggy smell. This is especially true if chicken smells like eggs in date.
Tip 5. Texture
Raw chicken should have a smooth, glistening texture. However, if you find that the texture is slimy and the chicken feels sticky, you can be confident that it’s gone bad and should go straight into the garbage.
Frozen chicken should also not have a slimy texture, nor should it be freezer-burned. If a frozen chicken has these features, it has spoiled, and you should throw it away.
Cooked chicken should have a dry, firm texture. Any juices coming from the chicken should not be sticky or slimy, nor should the cooked chicken have a stringy, sticky texture.
Tip 6. Color
Do the fatty areas of your raw chicken appear yellowish or cream in color? If so, the raw chicken has spoiled. Rather, it should appear bright pink with fatty areas that are nearly white.
If your raw chicken smells like eggs or has any areas that appear to be somewhat grey, green, and/or a dullish color, you absolutely should not cook and eat it.
Regarding frozen raw chicken, it should also be bright pink with fatty areas that are close to white. Frost on the chicken’s outside packaging should be clear. If the frost is dull or cloudy or the fatty areas are yellowish or cream in color, the chicken isn’t editable.
The flesh of cooked chickens should be consistently white. If you find any pink areas, you have not fully cooked the chicken, which will leave you at risk for Salmonella. As noted earlier, if your chicken begins to look a bit green, grey, or dull, it’s not safe to eat it.
If you see any mold, whether your chicken is fresh, cooked, or frozen, throw it away.
What to Do If Your Chicken Smells Like Egges?
If your chicken is not bad after reading the above tips, here is how you can remove the bad smell from your raw chicken:
How Do You Properly Store Chicken?
Storing your chicken properly plays a key role in preventing it from spoiling before you have a chance to cook it. Following are some helpful tips for ensuring that you’re storing your chicken correctly:
- You should only refrigerate your chicken for one to two days before cooking it. A good rule of thumb is to cook the chicken as soon as possible after purchasing it even if the expiration date is more than two days away.
- Accordingly, always check the expiration date to ensure that it’s not expiring in a day or two.
- If you don’t plan to cook your chicken in the next day or so, store it in the freezer. You can keep raw chicken in your freezer for up to several months
- If you’ve cooked chicken and have some leftovers, store it in a tight, sealed container, ensuring that your refrigerator’s temperature never goes above 40 degrees to prevent spoilage. Be sure to finish eating the cooked chicken within three days.
- When you remove chicken from the grocery cooler while shopping, note that you’ll have approximately one hour to get the chicken into your refrigerator or freezer before bacteria begin to develop.
Is chicken OK if it has a slight smell?
Chicken is not odorless, but it should never smell pungent. If your chicken smells sour or potent then don’t buy any more of them because they are most likely bad and could make you sick!
If it has a slight smell but with normal color, then it’s safe to eat.
What does raw chicken smell like when it’s bad?
When a raw chicken has gone bad, the most potent odor is emitted from it. Sometimes people describe these odors as sour or vinegary-like smells.
If you notice any of this happening in your home then it’s best to just toss out all food items smelling like that.
Is it safe to cook chicken that smells like eggs?
If you find that your raw chicken smells bad like old eggs, then it’s a good bet there is salmonella in the meat. Salmonella can cause food poisoning and should be thrown out immediately.
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“What came first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t care; I eat both.”
We agree–as long as they’re fresh!