White meat VS dark meat chicken? What is the difference between these two types of meat?
Whether you are a chicken handler or not, you have probably heard others talk about white and dark meat. You might have even heard arguments regarding which of the two is better.
You do not have to wonder anymore! Today, we will be talking all about white and dark chicken meat.
White Meat VS Dark Meat Chicken
Telling the difference between white and dark meat is not as black and white as one would expect.
When talking about white meat, many immediately think of the breast part. That is not wrong, but that is not the only member of the white side. The tenderloin and the wings are also part of the white team!
On the other hand, dark meat is at the thigh and the drumstick.
Now that we have tackled the basics. Let us talk about how white and dark meat is so different from each other.
Two fibers are crucial to talk about when differentiating between white and dark meat. Those are the white and red fibers.
As you might have guessed, white fibers dominate white meat. This fiber is also called the fast-twitch fiber. It allows chickens and other organisms to make fast and sudden movements.
Earlier, we mentioned that white meat is in the breast, tenderloin, and wings. Notice the movement of your chickens when they use those parts. Their actions are sudden and forceful.
On the other hand, red fibers dominate dark meat. This fiber is also called the slow-twitch fiber. In a way, you could say that it does the opposite of what the white fiber does. White fibers are for sudden movements. Red fibers are there to help organisms to keep their posture.
With all of that said, it is good to note that white meat does not only have white fibers. Additionally, dark meat does not only have red ones. The two kinds of meat have a combination of both white and red fibers.
Next, let us talk about myoglobin.
Myoglobin is a protein that is in the muscles of many organisms. It has an important job when it comes to oxygen supply and energy production. In other words, it is essential for parts often used.
Now, think of our chickens. Most chickens cannot fly. They get around by running here and there. These birds use their legs more than their wings. With that, it is natural to expect that there is more myoglobin in their leg area. Chickens do not use their wings that often. Because of that, it needs less myoglobin.
Myoglobin is what gives the meat its color. The more myoglobin, the darker the meat will be.
Which is Better?
Let us answer this question before we continue comparing and differentiating white and dark meat.
There has been a long-standing debate when it comes to white and dark meat. One side insists that white meat is the best choice. The other side presses that dark meat is the better choice.
So, which is which?
Well, there doesn’t need to be any debate! Chicken meat is healthy. White and dark meat are both healthy then. What would be a better choice would depend on what is your goal.
Do you want to cut back some calories? Do you want to focus on taste? These are just some questions you might want to consider when choosing between white and dark meat.
The following portions will hopefully help you decide what meat to use for your next meal.
White meat and dark meat both offer good things. You can say they only have a different set of nutrition.
White meat has fewer calories and less fat than its darker counterpart. For years, this has been the argument in favoring the white portion more. Recently, some have taken a double look at this idea.
What some have forgotten is not all fats are bad. Dark meat does have more fat than white meat, but it also has more healthy fats. Dark meat is also a good source of iron, zinc, vitamins B2, B3, and B12.
Does this mean that white meat does not have nutrition to offer? No! White meat has more Potassium and Phosphorus for one.
Additionally, even if the white meat or black meat is richer in one element than the other the difference is not that large. In the end, both types of meat are healthy, just in different ways.
If you want to cut back on calories, then you may want to opt for white meat. Alternatively, you may want dark meat instead if you are at risk for coronary heart disease.
Overall, we still think a healthy mix of white and dark meat is good!
Taste & Texture
Do you have a favorite part when it comes to chicken? This next part may explain why. I used to like the drumstick part best. I thought it might just be because of its shape. As it turns out, it is not!
When it comes to taste, white meat has a milder taste. It can even be bland for some. On the other hand, dark meat is more flavorful.
In terms of texture, dark meat is juicier, while white meat is not that juicy. The amount of fat in the two types of meat is an explanation for that.
Furthermore, it is easy to overcook white meat. When this happens, it can dry out fast. This problem is not as prominent with dark meat. That is because dark meat is difficult to overcook. However, it can be leathery when not cooked properly.
As you can see, there are dishes where one kind of meat would be a better choice than the other.
When the talk of white and dark meat comes up, many forget to mention anything about costs.
Let us take a look at the two types of meat in terms of cost-effectiveness:
How to Cook White and Dark Chicken Meat?
If you want to get the best out of the white and dark meat of your chickens, you might want to try out these tips.
White meat is easier to overcook, and you want to avoid that. When the white meat is overcooked, it could dry out fast. To dodge this problem, you can try cooking it quickly at a high temperature. Make sure the meat is white and not pink.
Since the white meat is not that flavorful, you might want to keep the skin on to add flavor.
White meat would be great for broiling or grilling. Basically, anything fast and hot!
On the other hand, dark meat is more forgiving. It is hard to overcook. Going fast with dark meat is not advisable. It is leathery in comparison to white meat. It needs a longer time.
Braising and roasting are great for dark meat.
Now we know the difference between white and dark meat, let us get cooking! Here are some chicken dishes you might want to try.
White Chicken Meat Dishes
White meat may not be considered as the tastiest meat out there, but these dishes will surely tickle your taste buds:
- Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms and Shallots– Feeling a little fancy? Maybe you want some Italian dish! If that is so, this one is for you.
- Chicken Salad with Avocado, Corn, and Miso Dressing– On the other hand, if you’re in for something Asian, then this one might suit your taste buds better.
- Grilled Chicken and Cabbage Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing– In the mood for some salad? This one might be for you! It’s also great if you have some leftover chickens.
- Easy One-Pot Chicken Tinga– Of course, we can’t forget our fellas who have a liking for all things spicy! Alternatively, you can spice it down a notch if you’re not that great with spicy food.
For other white chicken meat dishes, then you can check this list from serious eats.
Dark Chicken Meat Dishes
Dark meat may take a little longer to prepare, but these dishes will undoubtedly make your effort and waiting worthwhile:
- Brad’s Campsite Jambalaya– If you’re looking for a hearty and filling dish, then this one might be up your aisle.
- Chicken Khao Soi– Want to try something oriental? Then you might want to try this Thai-inspired soup.
- Braised Chicken with Capers and Parsley– Here is another fancy dish you might want to try. It may be fancy, but it’s pretty easy to do!
- Sweet and Spicy Chicken Drumsticks– Maybe you want something simple, then this dish would be for you. A plus if you like spicy dishes!
If you want more dark chicken meat dishes, then you can check out this list by bon appetit.
White meat VS dark meat chicken? Well, as you have seen, you don’t have to pick! Both white meat and dark meat are great.
They are different, but they both offer a wide array of good things. Each meat has various nutrients to give. Also, both render themselves useful for numerous delicious dishes. White meat and dark meat cater to different needs, but it’s still a good idea to have a healthy mix of both.
So, go ahead! You don’t need to worry about your next chicken meal anymore. Happy eating!
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.