Chicken Tastes Like Fish? Why? What to do?

Chicken is a diet staple for many households. However, like many poultry products, chicken can have an unpleasant odor and taste. So, why does chicken taste like fish?

There can be many reasons for the fishy taste of chicken. The most obvious one is fishmeal. Some farmers feed their chickens powdered fish byproducts. This fishmeal causes a fishy taste in chicken and their eggs. Other reasons include certain bacteria, frying and serving methods. 

This article helps you understand why your chicken tastes like fish and how to fix it.

Table of Contents

Why Does Chicken Taste Like Fish?

If your chicken has a fishy taste and odor, it may be spoiled. Meat that has gone bad develops a foul taste and odor. Start by checking the expiry date of your chicken.

If you haven’t frozen the chicken and the expiry date has passed, it is probably spoiled and unsafe to eat.  Eating spoiled chicken can lead to severe cases of food poisoning.

If the expiry date has not passed, check if the chicken is slimy or has a greyish hue. If the chicken displays these characteristics, then it should be discarded. Keep the chicken in the fridge to prevent it from spoiling and developing a fish taste and odor.  You should never freeze chicken twice. Once you have defrosted it, you cannot refreeze it.

Frying Processes That Cause Fishy Taste in Chicken

Frying your chicken in an unwashed pan and used oil is a big reason for the fishy smell in your chicken. The frying process may produce chemicals that taste like fish. 

Protein and lipid Oxidation can also cause the “fishy” taste or smell.

Oxidization of some fatty acids produces volatile compounds with a strong fishy odor. You can avoid this by deep-frying rather than stir-frying your chicken. When you shallow fry your chicken on low heat, certain fatty acids produce dodgy compounds. These compounds cause the chicken to give a raw fish-like odor. 

Storage Mistakes

You may not be refrigerating the chicken correctly. Incorrect storage techniques may cause the chicken to have a fishy taste.

You should always store it in cling film or an airtight container. When you’re storing chicken, ensure that it is not touching any other meats. It’s best not to mix up the bacteria of different meats. So, use clean containers every time you want to store chicken. Also, you should always store freshly-bought chicken separately from the older chicken batches you purchased a few days ago.


Using unclean utensils and cookware can cause the chicken to taste strange after cooking. Make sure you always use a clean knife, frying pan, and chopping board when cooking. 

If you use the same knife or chopping board for another meat, you should wash it before using it for the chicken. This will help avoid contamination of your chicken.

All kinds of meat contain certain bacteria. It’s best to not mix up the bacteria of different meats. So, use clean cookware and utensils every time you want to make meat. Using an unclean knife can cause the chicken to taste funny after cooking. 

Poor Quality Chicken

Most of the time, store-bought (most probably from Kroger) or un-fresh chicken contain different smells. They also have an unpleasant taste after cooking. These chicken meats contain bad taste and smell, but they are fine to eat. 


Some farmers use fishmeal or in chicken feed. People started this trend of giving fish-based food to chickens in the 1960s. It was to add extra protein to the meat. However, many farmers now avoid this practice. 

Serving Method

The way you serve cooked chicken is also important. Make sure to prepare and serve the chicken dishes before any other meat dishes.

How To Tell If Chicken Is Bad orSpoiled?

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Fresh chicken has a pinkish-peach color. If your raw chicken is turning gray, you should discard it.
  • If raw chicken smells sour or ammonia-like, discard it. 
  • Sometimes, a foul smell appears during the cooking process. This means the meat is rotten, so throw it out. 

The Biggest Mistakes You Make When Cooking Chicken

How To Get Rid Of The Fishy Smell In Chicken?

Here are some methods you can follow to get rid of the fishy smell of chicken.

Use Vinegar 

The vinegar naturally gets rid of unpleasant odors and tastes. Submerge your chicken in a water bowl and add two to three tablespoons of vinegar. Stir the water so that vinegar can reach all parts of the chicken. 

Let the chicken sit in this water for 15 to 20 minutes. Finally, take out the chicken and wash it thoroughly under running water. 

Use Flour

Salt and flour mixture can help neutralize the fishy odor in your chicken. The first step is to wash the chicken thoroughly. Then, sprinkle two tablespoons of flour and one tablespoon of salt on the chicken. Rub the mixture nicely all over the meat. After 5 to 10 minutes, wash the chicken again. 

Now add one tablespoon of salt, ½ cup lemon , and 1/4 cup white vinegar in a bowl full of water. Soak the chicken in this water for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse with clean water.

It may take some time, but cleaning your chicken like this eliminates foul smell and fishy taste.

Use Tomatoes

Tomatoes may not get rid of the fishy smell. But they work amazingly to mask it. So use a tomato mixture to mask the foul odors of chicken meat.This method is cost-effective and time-saving. 

You’ll need two mushy or smashed tomatoes, one tablespoon of salt, and 1 ½ tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix all these ingredients together and rub the chicken with this mixture. This will help mask the fishy smell. Just remember to wash the chicken before cooking.

Use Fresh Oil 

Sometimes, frying the chicken meat can help remove the fishy taste. Try using fresh oil every time you want to fry chicken. 

Clean Your Refrigerator

Sometimes chicken picks up smells from everything else in your refrigerator. That’s why you might notice a fishy taste in your cooked chicken. Give your refrigerator a thorough cleaning to avoid foul-smelling chicken. 

Here’s what you can do:

Mix baking soda and water and use this mixture to clean the refrigerator. Clean everything including shelves, walls, underdrawers, and racks.

Is It Safe To Eat Chicken If It Has A Slight Smell?

It may or may not be safe. Sometimes, the vacuum packaging of store-bought chicken causes the meat to have bad odor. And even when you cook it, the odor stays there. 

However, vacuum packaged chicken is not bad for health. Factories use certain gases to vacuum pack the chicken, which causes it to taste and smell like fish or egg.

If you have bought vacuum-packed chicken, then the slight smell won’t do any harm to you. You may cook and eat it as you like. However, it would be best if you always buy fresh chicken.

Fresh chicken can also contain a slightly odd smell because of the dried out blood

So, all you have to do is rinse your chicken under running water. Or, if you are not in a hurry, then soak the meat in vinegar water for some time.

Does Cooking Chicken Kill Bacteria?

Cooking can destroy germs in all kinds of meat. You can easily kill all the harmful bacteria by slow cooking chicken on medium to low heat. 

However, you can’t tell if your chicken is properly cooked by just looking at it.So, it’s better to use a cooking thermometer.

If you keep cooked chicken at room temperature for a long time, it’ll cause foodborne bacteria to grow in it.

Foodborne bacteria are not good for health. They produce toxins in the cooked chicken if it stays out of the fridge for more than two hours. Proper heating and reheating is a great way to kill these bacteria. 

As the bacteria grow on meat, the mold may be visible on the outside. Although boiling chicken kills bacteria, the appearance of mold shows that you should avoid such meats at all costs. 


Can raw chicken last a week in the fridge?

No, raw chicken can last only for about one to two days in the fridge. In contrast, cooked chicken can last for about three to four days. 

Does cooking chicken at 165 degrees kill all bacteria?

Yes, at 165 degrees, almost all the bacteria immediately die in the meat. Whereas cooking chicken at 155 degrees takes almost 1 minute to kill all bacteria. 

Should you wash chicken?

Yes, always wash raw chicken as it rinses off all the pathogens and makes the meat safe to eat. It also washes off the rotten blood that may contain bacteria. 

Can chicken be a little pink?

Yes, a thoroughly cooked chicken can be a little pink. If you use a cooking thermometer for cooking the chicken at 165 degrees, a pink tinge shouldn’t be a concern.

Is chewy chicken undercooked?

Undercooked or overcooked, both chickens can be chewy. Undercooked chicken is dense and jiggly with a slightly shiny and rubbery appearance. Overcooked meat has a dense and unappealing texture.

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