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Meat lovers widely consume chicken. Whether it’s roasted or crispy fried and slotted between two pieces of bread, there’s no denying the attraction many feel when biting into a well-cooked chicken. You might have heard tiny whispered debates about white and dark meat, which of them is better than the other, and so on. If you’re wondering whether white meat chicken parts are better than dark meat, let’s unveil the mystery.
Table of Contents
- What is White Meat?
- What is Dark Meat?
- White Meat vs Dark Meat
- What is in Chicken Meat?
- Are Chicken Thighs White Meat?
- What Parts of the Chicken are Dark Meat?
- Are Chicken Wings White Meat?
- What Parts of the Chicken are White Meat?
- Cooking Dark Meat
- Cooking White Meat
- Dark Meat Recipes
- White Meat Recipes
- Bottom Line
What is White Meat?
White meat, refers to the fresh nutritious and delicious flesh of birds, fish and rabbit. It contains less fat than dark meat and much more protein. White meat is also pretty expensive compared to dark meat, because it is so popular in restaurants. White meat is normally found in the front part of the chicken or turkey, also known as the breast.
What is Dark Meat?
Dark meat is found in the legs and wings of chicken, and is not the same as red meat which comes from cattle. When you think dark meat, you think of a turkey drumstick or thigh, and while that is not incorrect, you should also know that chicken wings are also dark meat, because they contain more myoglobin than breast meat does.
White Meat vs Dark Meat
When it comes to chickens, we refer to muscles containing mostly white fibres, as white meat, and muscles containing red fibres as dark meat. White meat found in the breasts and wings contains about 10% fibres, this part of the chicken is lean and mild in flavour and dries out easily if overcooked.
Dark meat chicken contains around 50% red fibres and is found in the chicken legs, which are a common favourite area of the chicken due to its flavourful juiciness. Light meat contains slightly fewer calories than dark meat, though it contains higher levels of zinc, iron and vitamins.
What is in Chicken Meat?
Chicken meat is made up of two basic types of muscle fibres which are typically used for short, quick movements, and red fibres which are used for prolonged movements like standing.
Are Chicken Thighs White Meat?
White meat, refers to the flesh of the chicken that has been cooked until no longer pink. Chicken breasts are almost always considered white meat, because they have almost no fat on them. This makes it easier for those on a low fat diet to consume chicken breasts as a healthier choice for their diet. However there is still some fat present on a chicken breast, though it tends to dry out completely when cooked.
What Parts of the Chicken are Dark Meat?
Dark meat is more tender and juicier than white meat and contains higher levels of fat. Chicken legs are dark meat and they make up one of the four major sections of a chicken. The others are the breast, thigh and wing. Thighs are dark meat, and darker than leg meat .
Are Chicken Wings White Meat?
How a chicken wing is prepared can determine whether it’s white or dark meat. Chicken wings are classified as either drumettes or flats, with the latter being cut from the lower part of the wing and including all of the bones. Drumsticks are just that: drumsticks, meaning they’re usually removed from their original place on the chicken body before cooking and sold separately.
If you’ve ever visited a restaurant where you can order chicken wings with some good sides, chances are good that those were not actual drumsticks—they’re likely flats that have been cut into smaller pieces (typically between three to six inches long) then breaded, deep fried, and served up in a basket or on top of fries with some sauce. That’s how most people eat them today at home too!
What Parts of the Chicken are White Meat?
The white meat parts of the chicken are: Chicken breast, thigh and wing. Short bursts of movement are found in the muscle fibres, and these muscles use explosive force to spread wings, and flap whenever required during the chickens lifetime.
Cooking Dark Meat
Dark meat takes a while to cook, meaning that they can handle longer cooking times without drying out. It’s no secret that dark meat has more fat than white meat, but this isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can actually make your chicken juicier and tastier, as this helps keep the meat moist while cooking. Certain cooking techniques can help soften up the flesh in chicken legs and thighs so that they’re easier to digest. This is what results in the wide range of cooking options for dark meat, and these are:
- Dry Heat
- Wet Heat
- Combination cooking
Dry cooking methods like pan-frying in good cookware, deep frying, roasting and grilling are great to use for dark chicken, the internal temperature you should aim for would be 165 degrees. Chicken thighs and legs, will take longer to cook with bone-in chicken taking around 40-55 minutes, and boneless chicken thighs and legs takes about 20 to 30 minutes to cook.
Cooking methods such as slow-braising, stewing, or boiling, are ideal cooking methods for dark meat chicken, because these often require longer cooking times, whilst still maintaining their juiciness.
Essentially, this method calls for a combination of both dry and wet heat cooking methods. The chicken is browned to seal its juices and overall flavour, followed by the addition of liquid to tenderise the meat.
Cooking White Meat
When comparing both dark meat and white meat, you’ll find that the latter is leaner. Which is why chicken breasts are a common protein choice for those who prefer to make healthier choices in their diets. These chicken parts cook much quicker as they have less fat and connective tissue, and the result of dry white meat when cooked. It’s best to cook this chicken part quickly and at a higher temperature. Here are some of the best ways of cooking white meat:
- Dry Heat
- Moist Heat
This method involves the exposure of raw food to direct heat, like baking, grilling, broiling and roasting. Occasionally, fats and oils are used to transfer heat to the food. Common examples of this include: Pan-frying, searing, sautéing, and deep-frying. Many opt for this method to achieve a crispy or caramelised exterior, and find that it is an ideal method for fast-cooking white meat.
These cooking methods require a liquid medium like water, broth, and steam to transfer heat to the meat. Some examples of this include boiling, poaching and simmering. The addition of liquid adds moisture to your dish, but you should attempt to keep the cooking time short to dry and overcook the meat.
Dark Meat Recipes
Dark meat might require more of your time to prepare, but these scrumptious dark meat dishes will indubitably make your efforts worthwhile:
- Double Dark Chicken Noodle Soup
- Shredded Kale Salad with Fried Chicken
- Puffy Chicken Tacos
Double Dark Chicken Noodle Soup
When in doubt, opt for a chicken noodle soup. This incredibly versatile soup is both flavourful and incredibly delicious. Pair this with your favourite bread, or simply slurp spoonful’s in your mouth, providing much-needed warmth to your body. And here are some ideas about what to serve with chicken noodle soup.
Shredded Kale Salad with Fried Chicken
Much like any duo kale and fried chicken are the perfect combination for this incredibly delicious salad. This meal is perfect for the summer months, the light crunch from the kale followed by the crispy, and tender chicken, is the contrast we all need. And if you are wondering for how long you can keep the chicken salad in the fridge that is the answer.
Puffy Chicken Tacos
Some vegan corn tortillas or flour ones that are deep-fried into puffy, airy shells complete with shredded strips of tender chicken and a side of impeccable guacamole. This is an excellent mouth-watering meal.
White Meat Recipes
While white meat might not be everyone’s cup of tea, with chicken breast being too bland and dry or just boring. But chicken breasts are also versatile and incredibly popular, especially when they’re made with all your favourite ingredients.
- Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts
- Grilled Chicken Cutlets
- Grilled Chicken and Cabbage Salad
Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts
Pan-roasted chicken breast make the perfect mid-week evening dinner, that’s just as elegant as it is easy. To cook the chicken, you’ll need to sear the skin, flip the breasts over and finish them in the oven. While the chicken is cooking, you can make a pan sauce, with white wine and your favourite choice of herbs.
Grilled Chicken Cutlets
Chicken breasts are packed with lots of flavour – if they’re cooked right. You can enhance your chicken breasts with some loose rosemary, garlic, and lemon vinaigrette, that we use as both a marinade and sauce. Make sure you grill the chicken as soon as you slather it with the marinade so that it doesn’t crumble and turn to mush.
Grilled Chicken and Cabbage Salad
Left over grilled chicken, isn’t the best when reheated, which means you’ll need to get a little creative with it. How about massaging it with olive oil and lemon juice or mixing it with tahini is a great way to make it taste like new. This salad requires freshness and crunch, so mix in cabbage, red onion, and a couple of handfuls of fresh herbs and spices.
Whether you prefer the white meat part of the chicken, or the dark meat part of the chicken, both are incredibly versatile, and great to cook with. Dark meat provides iron, while you’ll find most of your protein in the white meat parts of chicken breast.
What is Considered White Meat?
Generally, meat from cows and calves, sheep, lamb and pigs is considered red, while chicken, turkey and rabbit meat is considered white.
Is White Meat Chicken Better than Dark?
White meat has a little more protein than dark, and while dark meat has its fair share of beneficial vitamins, white meat has more B vitamins.
What are the White Parts on Raw Chicken?
When you see the white parts on raw chicken, they might look like fat or sinew. But they’re actually tendons—the tough connective tissue that holds muscles in place and helps them move.