Can Pregnant Women Eat Fried Chicken? Is It a Good Idea?

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Fried chicken is a popular comfort food often served with coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese. But with its higher fat content, is eating fried chicken a good idea while you are pregnant? 

Fried chicken is safe to consume during pregnancy as long as it is cooked thoroughly and made with pasteurized ingredients. However, it is typically very high in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol, so it should be consumed in moderation. 

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of fried chicken during pregnancy and whether or not it can be incorporated into a healthy diet during pregnancy.

Is Fried Chicken Safe to Eat When Pregnancy? 

Fried chicken is safe to eat when you are pregnant, as long as it is fully cooked.

It is a popular comfort food and a common pregnancy craving for many women. Thankfully, it is safe to eat with just a few considerations.

woman holding fried chicken and eating in the restaurant

As mentioned above, fried chicken (and any meat consumed during pregnancy) must be thoroughly cooked before eating. Poultry needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]).

If you are consuming it from a restaurant or a fast food establishment, you can rest assured that the internal temperature minimum should be met.

However, if you make it at home, check the temperature of the meat with a metal stem thermometer that has been sanitized. Always check the temperature of the meat in the thickest portion, since that section will be cooked the slowest.

If you order takeout, make sure you eat the chicken immediately and do not let it sit at room temperature.

If you keep leftovers, make sure you stick them in the refrigerator as soon as possible, but no longer than two hours after the food is served to you — not two hours from when you leave the restaurant (source: FDA). 

You might wonder if the eggs and buttermilk used to make fried chicken need to be pasteurized. It is fully cooked, so you don’t have to worry about unpasteurized milk or eggs, since bacteria will be killed during the cooking process.

However, it is definitely safest to use pasteurized ingredients, so keep this in mind if you’re making it at home.

Is Fried Chicken Good for Pregnancy or Not?

Fried chicken is safe to eat during pregnancy, but it is not a very nutritious food.

While it is high in protein, fried chicken (and other deep-fat fried foods) are also very high in saturated fat, calories, sodium, and cholesterol – all of which can contribute to unhealthy weight gain and increased risk of heart disease. 

fried chicken in a plate and mashed potato in a bowl

For example, a single serving of it (about 84 grams) contains 450 milligrams of sodium (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] Food Database).

The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but 1,500 milligrams is ideal for supporting a healthy heart. 

Additionally, it is often paired with other foods that are high in calories, fat, and salt, such as mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and French fries.

To reduce the fat and calorie content but still enjoy your favorite foods, try pairing it with a baked potato or sweet potato, a side salad, or some coleslaw.

You could also chop up a fried chicken breast and eat it over a salad. Of course, opting for baked or grilled chicken is a great alternative that significantly lowers calorie and fat content.

I hope this article helped you learn how to safely satisfy your fried chicken pregnancy craving!