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Chicken is the most common type of poultry in the world. In developed countries, chickens are usually subject to intensive farming methods. Raw chicken may contain salmonella. The safe minimum cooking temperature recommended by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is 165 °F / 74 °C to prevent food borne illness because of bacteria and parasites. Chicken can be cooked in many ways. It can be made into sausages, skewered, put in salads, grilled, breaded and deep-fried, or used in various curries. There is significant variation in cooking methods amongst cultures. Historically common methods include roasting, baking, broasting and frying. Western cuisine frequently has chicken prepared by deep frying for fast foods such as fried chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken lollipops or buffalo wings. They are also often grilled for salads or tacos.

Some chicken breast cuts and processed chicken breast products include the moniker "with rib meat". This is a misnomer, as it is the small piece of white meat that overlays the scapula, and is removed with the breast meat. The breast is cut from the chicken and sold as a solid cut, while the leftover breast and true rib meat is stripped from the bone through mechanical separation for use in chicken franks, for example. Breast meat is often sliced thinly and marketed as chicken slices, an easy filling for sandwiches. Often, the tenderloin (pectoralis minor) is marketed separately from the breast (pectoralis major). In the US, "tenders" can be either tenderloins or strips cut from the breast. In the UK the strips of pectoralis minor are called "chicken mini-fillets".

Chicken bones are hazardous to health as they tend to break into sharp splinters when eaten, but they can be simmered with vegetables and herbs for hours or even days to make chicken stock. In Asian countries it is possible to buy bones alone as they are very popular for making chicken soups, which are said to be healthy. In Australia the rib cages and backs of chickens after the other cuts have been removed are frequently sold cheaply in supermarket delicatessen sections as either "chicken frames" or "chicken carcasses" and are purchased for soup or stock purposes.

Juvenile chickens, of less than 28 days of age at slaughter in the United Kingdom are marketed as poussin. Mature chicken is sold as small, medium or large. Whole mature chickens are marketed in the United States as fryers, broilers, and roasters. Fryers are the smallest size (2.5-4 lbs dressed for sale), and the most common, as chicken reach this size quickly (about 7 weeks). Most dismembered packaged chicken would be sold whole as fryers. Broilers are larger than fryers. They are typically sold whole. Roasters, or roasting hens, are the largest chickens commonly sold (3–5 months and 6-8 lbs) and are typically more expensive. Even larger and older chickens are called stewing chickens but these are no longer usually found commercially. The names reflect the most appropriate cooking method for the surface area to volume ratio. As the size increases, the volume (which determines how much heat must enter the bird for it to be cooked) increases faster than the surface area (which determines how fast heat can enter the bird). For a fast method of cooking, such as frying, a small bird is appropriate: frying a large piece of chicken results in the inside being undercooked when the outside is ready.

Chicken is also sold in dismembered pieces. Pieces may include quarters, or fourths of the chicken. A chicken is typically cut into two leg quarters and two breast quarters. Each quarter contains two of the commonly available pieces of chicken. A leg quarter contains the thigh, drumstick and a portion of the back; a leg has the back portion removed. A breast quarter contains the breast, wing and portion of the back; a breast has the back portion and wing removed. Pieces may be sold in packages of all of the same pieces, or in combination packages. Whole chicken cut up refers to either the entire bird cut into 8 individual pieces. (8-piece cut); or sometimes without the back. A 9-piece cut (usually for fast food restaurants) has the tip of the breast cut off before splitting. Pick of the chicken, or similar titles, refers to a package with only some of the chicken pieces. Typically the breasts, thighs and legs without wings or back. Thighs and breasts are sold boneless and/or skinless. Dark meat (legs, drumsticks and thighs) pieces are typically cheaper than white meat pieces (breast, wings). Chicken livers and/or gizzards are commonly available packaged separately. Other parts of the chicken, such as the neck, feet, combs, etc. are not widely available except in countries where they are in demand, or in cities that cater to ethnic groups who favour these parts.

There are many fast food restaurant chains on both a national and global scale that sell exclusively or primarily in poultry products including KFC (global), Red Rooster (Australia), Hector Chicken (Belgium) and CFC (Indonesia). Most of the products on the menu in such eateries are fried or breaded and are served with french fries.