While both methods of cooling — air-chilling and water-chilling — are effective, the former comes with a range of benefits like better flavor, texture, and value; quick cooking time; lower risk of contamination; and environmental benefits. And as you might suspect, these benefits do come at a premium, which means you're likely to find a higher price tag on air-chilled chicken.
- More flavor and better texture: Since no excess water is absorbed, the natural juices in air-chilled chicken are not diluted and the texture is unaltered, which leads to more flavorful and tender pieces of meat.
- Faster cooking: Because air-chilled chicken doesn't absorb excess water, it tends to cook faster than its traditionally cooled counterpart.
- Better value: When you buy an air-chilled chicken you are just paying for the chicken. Traditionally chilled chicken can contain upwards of 12 percent water, which factors into the price tag.
- Less risk of cross-contamination: Because many chickens are cooled in the same vat of chlorinated water with traditional chilling, there is an increased risk for cross-contamination. Air-chilling has no such risk.
- Environmental benefits: Air chilling uses significantly less water, which saves thousands of gallons a day.