White meat vs dark meat chicken, what are their differences? The supermarket near your house sells both types of meat, and white meat is usually your pick. You might reconsider your choice after knowing about all the amazing facts in this post.
Both dark meat and white meat have their good points and attract different kinds of people. You will gain deep knowledge regarding their key characteristics, nutrition, health benefits, and many other things. Let’s have a look!
Firstly, what is white meat? White meat comes from the wings and breasts of the chicken, including the tenderloins and tenders. This meat is lean and has a bright white-pink color.
The muscles with fibers in white meat are known as fast-twitch fibers. As apparent from the name, these muscles enable the chicken to do fast burst activities. These muscles also carry glycogen, which generates energy. A short flight is an action that uses the white section.
So, why is white meat white? The decisive factor for meat color is myoglobin. This protein is rich in muscles that the chicken uses frequently and vice versa. For this reason, the wings and breasts of the chicken carry little myoglobin, resulting in the white color (1).
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It’s no surprise that white meat chicken is more popular than dark meat. Affordable, savory, and always available are the main selling points of this type of meat. With several pieces of chicken breasts, you can cook, bread, or bake according to your preferences.
After reading the above section, you may think that you can settle the debate. However, allow me to change your mind. Dark meat has every right to be white meat’s rival.
You can find dark meat on the thighs and drumsticks of the poultry. The meat is pink and reddish to dark in color and turns light brown when cooked.
These segments of the bird carry muscles with fibers that are called slow-twitch fibers. In contrast to fast-twitch fibers, these muscles allow the chicken to do recurring actions. When the bird is standing or walking, it uses the dark meat section.
Since repeated activities require a steady energy source, myoglobin must come into action. Myoglobin not only carries oxygen but also provides it to muscle cells. Subsequently, the cells extract energy from the oxygen.
In conclusion, the dark color is the result of rich myoglobin. When you cook dark meat, this protein becomes metmyoglobin, which further darkens the meat.
You would be surprised to know that you can also cook, deep-fry, or bread dark meat just like white meat. Moreover, overcooking is a problem that rarely happens with dark meat, which is convenient.
In terms of nutrition, it is far from being inferior to white meat. What’s more? The juicy texture and flavorful taste of dark meat will be a major plus point to many people.
Now, let’s look at the bigger picture through this in-depth comparison between these 2 types of meat. Depending on your fondness, one will win over the other in different categories.
|Characteristics||White meat chicken||Dark meat chicken|
|Position||Breasts and wings||Thighs and drumsticks|
|Taste and texture||Lean, milder, drier, and can be bland to some people||Juicier, tender, “fattier”, and more flavorful|
|Shelf life||Similar to white meat|
|Nutritional values||Richer in protein, vitamin B-3 (niacin), and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)||Higher in zinc, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids|
|Health benefits||Similar to white meat|
|Eating with skin on||Possible, but increases calorie intake||Similar to white meat|
|Cooking internal temperature||165° F||165° F|
|Best ways to cook|| |
|Price||Breasts are more expensive than wings||Less expensive than white meat overall|
While people often compare chicken with tofu with many characteristics (including texture), not many realize that various chicken parts also have different textures. The most significant one is between white and dark meat.
White meat chicken is lean, dry, and mild-flavored with little savor. On the contrary, dark meat chicken is more flavorful with a fattier, juicier, and more tender texture. These differences are due to the fat in the two types of meat.
Dark meat contains more fat and calories than white meat. However, not all fats are harmful to your body. Dark meat also has more healthy fats. Besides, the fat difference is not that significant and rarely impacts your overall health.
Skin is another factor that affects the taste of your chicken. If you leave the skin on, the meat will be juicier and taste richer since it contains healthy fats. However, keep in mind that chicken skin is also a source of calories. This factor may concern people who are on a diet.
Both dark and white meat chicken have the same longevity. The other factors that you should consider are whether it is raw or cooked and where you keep it.
At room temperature (68° F – 77° F), chicken, cooked or raw, is only edible within 2 hours. When the weather is hot (90° F or above), this limit reduces to just 1 hour.
You may want to place your chicken into the fridge. The lifespan of chickens that are put in the refrigerator will be longer. Raw chicken can stay in the fridge for 1 to 2 days, while this number is 1 to 2 days higher in the case of cooked chicken.
If you do not plan to cook or eat the chicken soon, consider freezing it. You can take the frozen cooked chicken out and consume it within 2 to 6 months. Regarding frozen raw chicken, you won’t have to worry about throwing it away in the next 9 months! (2)
Here are some tips for preserving both raw and cooked chicken. For raw chicken, don’t take it out from the package yet but cover it using plastic wrap instead. The reason is that the dripping juice from your kitchen can contaminate other foods.
Subsequently, place it in a plastic bag, then lay it in the freezer or your fridge’s bottom shelf. Remember not to place it on top of any other food.
For cooked chicken, place it in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag. You can cut the chicken into smaller pieces for convenience. After that, just lay it in the freezer or the bottom shelf of your fridge, and don’t forget to label it.
You might be wondering if it is safe to eat cooked chicken after leaving it out overnight. Unfortunately, I don’t recommend doing so since there’s a high chance that your chicken has gone bad.
Freezing chicken will be a piece of cake after watching this video.
Now, let’s get to the best part of the debate. One of the fastest ways to decide the winner of a food competition: looking at their nutritional values. Chicken thighs and chicken breasts will represent dark meat and white meat, respectively.
Let’s compare 1 oz (28g) of roasted chicken breast and 1 oz of roasted chicken thigh:
|Nutrients||Chicken breast||Chicken thigh|
|Saturated Fat (g)||0,3||1,2|
|Niacin (B3) (mg)||3,9||1,6|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0,2||0,1 (3)|
There are some differences here and there, but they are not enough to conclude that one is superior to the other. The greatest debate you will encounter, apart from the taste, is the fat content.
Even though dark meat consists of more fat than white meat, the number is small. In addition, the majority of fat in dark meat is unsaturated fat, which benefits our health.
The most apparent conclusion we can draw from this table is that both kinds of meat are incredibly nutritious!
To name all the favorable effects of chicken meat, dark or white, will take us some time. Whether you eat white or dark chicken, the benefits this poultry brings to the table is a lot.
Eating chicken is an excellent option if you go to the gym since it helps you gain muscles fast. It can also strengthen your bones, reduce the risk of many diseases, and enhance your heart health. For mental health, the tryptophan in the meat can make you happier.
If you are on a diet, consuming white meat instead of dark meat does cut down some fat. However, this amount is not enough to conclude that white meat is better. A combination of both types in your diet will be the most efficient way to gain all the health benefits.
This video explains how healthy chicken meat is in detail.
No matter which parts of the chicken you are cooking, 165° F (75° C) is the code for the internal part. At this temperature, the meat is ready to serve. The safest way to ensure that overcooking or undercooking will not happen is to use a meat thermometer.
When you want to check, just stick the thermometer to the inside of the meat (avoid touching the bone). If it reads 165° F, feel free to take the chicken out and enjoy it.
Best Ways To Cook
People normally characterize white meat as a bland sheet of paper. Indeed, we can do many things to bring life to chicken breasts or wings. The recipes are limited only by our imagination, from marinating to baking, grilling, and many other quick options.
You can cook white meat in a sauce, broth, or stew so that the meat will be less likely to dry out. Baking is another great way to cook white meat chicken. Baking chicken tender at 400°F for an appropriate time will result in an irresistible dish.
Check the chicken frequently and make sure that you don’t heat it for too long. Perfectly cooked white meat should be completely white.
Although dark meat chicken is a little less versatile, the cooking methods are just as abundant. It’s really hard for you to overcook chicken thighs or legs. The reason is that dark meat contains more connective tissue and fat. The muscles are also tougher and require more time to tenderize.
As a result, cooking them at a high temperature like grilling, broiling, baking, or roasting may be easier. You can also fry it using a pan. Even if you cook dark meat in high heat, it won’t lose its wonderful flavor.
Firstly, it’s necessary to divide white meat into breasts and wings while dark meat into thighs and drumsticks. Furthermore, I will include boneless, skinless meat, as well as bone-in meat.
For clarification, bone-in chicken breast means breast that still has the bone in it. As you may know, the process of removing chicken bone and skin is not easy. This, in turn, adds a few dollars to the cost of the meat.
Generally, chicken wings and boneless chicken breast – both of which are white meat – are the most expensive. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are next on the price board. There are not many differences between the price of chicken drumsticks and bone-in chicken thighs.
White Meat Vs. Dark Meat Chicken – Which Is Better?
The winners of this competition are both types of meat. Indeed, you may even guess the answer after reading the sections above. Although they are different in color, the good effects they bring to your body are equally awesome.
If you are trying to cut down on fat consumption, white meat can be a better choice. But this doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to consume dark chicken now and then. The health benefits these two bring about far outweigh the risks.
However, what you should take notice of is the way you cook the chicken. Although deep frying or grilling can enhance the flavor of the meat, they are not healthy. On the other hand, baking will help you make the best use of the poultry if done right.
The next time you buy a whole chicken, remember that all the parts are suitable for your meal. You can pair dark meat and white meat with other foods to have a better diet. What’s more? Enjoying them with vegetables to enhance the beneficial impacts!
There are a lot of dark meat and white meat recipes out there that can brighten your meal quickly. I am sure you will fall in love with at least one of these.
This video provides a scientific approach to white meat and dark meat chicken.
No matter how new you are to cooking, these dishes will not cause much trouble. Prepare to surprise your friends and family members!
Few things can amplify chicken as well as honey. The sweetness of this ingredient paired with the spiciness of pepper and garlic cloves will be a festival of flavors. Make use of unsalted butter for a fatty taste.
Honey Garlic chicken breast will make your children excited in seconds.
Although it requires a lot of ingredients, this recipe won’t disappoint you. Spicy, sweet, and a little salty are words that can describe this dish best. Bring together vegetables if you love some green in your meal!
As simple as it sounds, this recipe will not disappoint you with its awesomeness. The delightful flavor of soy sauce combined with honey and bbq sauce will turn your wings into something magical.
Trying to find some good dark meat recipes out there? I got 3 awesome cooking ideas at your service.
With the addition of breadcrumbs, your chicken’s crunchiness will be irresistible. Garlic cloves, Italian seasoning, and especially Parmesan milk will bring about a taste you have never encountered before. Remember to bring your favorite sauce.
Air Fryer Parmesan chicken thighs are easy to make yet incredibly savory.
Here, we got a recipe for people who adore the flavor of lemon. The combination of lemon, Kosher salt, and black pepper together with other ingredients will make you speechless. The smell of this dish alone can attract a lot of attention.
This dish is perfect for grill lovers out there. The tenderness of chicken is further enhanced by mustard, Maple syrup, and Chili garlic sauce. You can become the star at every BBQ party by mastering this recipe!
Some questions may trigger in your head while reading this post. I will try my best to answer the most frequently asked ones.
Have you changed your view of white meat or dark meat chicken after this post? Although it is hard to declare the better type overall, your preferences and taste can answer this question. However, both deserve a place in your diet, considering how amazing they are.
If you know more fascinating facts about dark and white meat chicken, share them in the comment section below. This article may also be useful to people around you, so share it if you want. Thank you for your time!
- Safe & Healthy Food for Your Family. 2019. The color of poultry.
- www.foodsafety.gov. 2021. Cold Food Storage Chart.
- tools.myfooddata.com. n.d. Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool.
Table of Contents
- A Look At White Meat Chicken
- Dark Meat Chicken – What Is It?
- White Meat Vs. Dark Meat – Overall Comparison
- White Meat Vs. Dark Meat Chicken – Which Is Better?
- Awesome Recipes For White Meat Chicken
- Dishes That Can Be Made With Dark Meat Chicken
- Dark Meat And White Meat Chicken Can All Brighten Your Meals