When we think about the parts of a chicken that we readily consume, we often think of the basics: the breast, wings, and thighs.
But the truth is, there’s a lot more on that bird that can be eaten and used for protein than just those same ‘ol parts of the chicken.
With that being said, some of the things in this article may make some feel a little squeamish, but try to keep an open mind, and in doing so, you may be surprised at what else is on the chicken dinner menu.
Each item can be consumed without worrying as long as the chicken is raised and processed appropriately.
Parts of a Chicken You Can Use for Protein
Chicken Breast (31g protein/100g meat)
The chicken breast is generally considered the largest cut of a chicken.
It’s also called white meat because it is not as fatty as some of the other parts of the chicken
Where to Find It
The breast is found in front of the chicken’s body and can be removed easily with a sharp knife or boning knife.
To remove it, simply cut along the chicken breastbone, and follow the cut all the way around, separating it from the leg and the rest of the body.
How to Serve Chicken Breast
The chicken breast can be served chopped up in stir-frys, baked in the oven, roasted, or ground up and seasoned as taco meat.
In truth, the options are endless for chicken breast.
It’s one of the easiest cuts to substitute for most red meats in recipes.
Chicken Thighs (13.5g protein/100g meat)
The thigh of the chicken is often a favorite of those who prefer the dark meat of the chicken.
While it isn’t as meaty as the breast, it still provides plenty of protein.
Where to find the Thigh
The thigh is the upper half of a chicken leg, which can be located right before the leg connects to the chicken’s body.
The lower part of the chicken thigh connects to the part that is often referred to as the “drumstick” on a chicken.
How to Serve Chicken Thighs
Since thighs are juicy and tender, they are fantastic pan-fried, seared, and baked.
Many prepare chicken thighs with intact skin to add crispness and maintain tenderness throughout cooking.
Drumsticks (28.3g protein/100g meat)
A favorite among children, the perfectly portioned drumstick is the easy-to-hold lower half of a chicken leg.
It is also considered dark meat and cooks up tender and juicy.
Where to Find the Chicken Drumstick
The drumstick can be found by locating the knee joint; it is the portion of the leg below this joint.
How to Serve a Drumstick
Drumsticks are great for grilling and broasting.
Personally? My favorite is deep-fried!
Many enjoy drummies in the same way they enjoy chicken wings… sauced to perfection.
Wings (30.5g protein/100g meat)
The wings are a perfect choice for those who love dark meat and to nibble and gnaw.
These are delicious appetizers often found in sports bars and pubs worldwide.
Where to Find the Cut
Fairly self-explanatory, the wings are found as the wing on a chicken.
How to Serve Chicken Wings
Perhaps the most beloved way to prepare and eat chicken wings is to sauce the heck out of them.
They can be grilled (skin on), baked, breaded, or deep-fried to perfection.
Giblets (Heart, Neck, Liver, & Gizzard)
Now we’re getting into the more “exotic” chicken parts that can be used for protein.
The giblets are a collective term for the following parts of a chicken:
These are prized pieces of chicken that are scattered throughout the body.
They are often included in little treasure packets inside the cavity of a store-bought chicken.
But if you’re processing your own birds, you’ll have to spend some time digging for these little gems of deliciousness.
How to Serve Chicken Giblets
Chicken giblets are little delicacies that are served in different ways worldwide.
Some eat them baked, use them in stuffing recipes, or create liver pate from them.
If preparing a large recipe from any of these ingredients, you’ll need quite a few chickens since most of these protein parts are small but have a large flavor!
Chicken skin is the delicious part of the chicken that is often purposely left intact to create a crispy outer coating of broasted chicken.
Keeping the skin in baked chicken also keeps the meat juicy throughout the cooking process.
Some prefer to remove the skin from their chickens for ease of processing.
And while it’s true chicken skin is high in calories, it’s still another excellent source of protein.
How to Serve Chicken Skin
While most keep chicken skin on the chicken while cooking, there are some who enjoy eating it as a dish of its own.
Deep-fried, for example, is a delicious crispy treat for those looking for a way to honor everything the chicken skin has to offer.
Consuming eyes may seem a tad too personal for some, but they are an edible part of a chicken.
In fact, if you’re really adventurous, there are a lot of protein pieces of chicken you could consume… some just taste, feel, and look better than others.
How to Serve Chicken Eyes
Another small morsel of protein… you’ll need a lot to make a full meal of these nuggets.
Many eat eyes in soups rather than eating them alone as a dish.
Chicken feet are a staple in many countries and among various ethnic groups.
Some save the feet for their four-legged friends as treats, but those who’ve tried them know that this protein is another must-try.
Chicken feet taste like… wait for it… chicken!
There isn’t a lot of meat on them, and most of it is made up of tendons which can make the feet a tad bit chewy.
Chicken feet are also full of collagen, making them gelatinous.
So the flavor isn’t too foreign to chicken lovers; it’s just the texture of the meat that may take some getting used to.
How to Prepare Chicken Feet
Chicken feet can be simmered in soy sauce, deep-fried, or used to make a delicious broth.
In some countries, combs are served in a stir-fry or soups, but there are other ways to consider adding this protein to your diet.
Combs are clearly a tad rubbery in appearance, and it is said that they feel as such while consuming.
Like chicken feet, they taste a lot like the chicken you’re probably used to eating, just with a different texture.
Wattles are consumed less often as there is very little to eat on some breeds of chicken, but if you’ve got chickens with large wattles, you can also add this to your protein checklist while processing your birds.
How to Prepare Chicken Combs
A quick Google search will show that chicken combs are a very versatile part of a chicken.
Typically, combs from roosters are used, rather than hens, due to their larger size.
You can find chicken combs served as sushi, braised, deep-friend, on burgers, and on and on the list goes.
Scouring the internet for ideas, you’ll soon see the options are endless and brave souls are paving the way for new dish ideas all the time.
Protein Content in Chicken Parts
Here’s a list of protein content from Healthline:
- Chicken breast: 54 grams in one breast, or 31 grams per 100 grams
- Chicken thigh: 13.5 grams in one thigh, or 26 grams per 100 grams
- Chicken drumstick: 12.4 grams in one drumstick, or 28.3 grams per 100 grams
- Chicken wings: 6.4 grams in one wing, or 30.5 grams per 100 grams
While the protein content of popular chicken edibles, as reported by CalorieKing:
- Gizzard: 20 grams for a 4 oz serving
- Neck: 7 grams per 2.8o oz neck with skin on
- Liver: 7.4 grams per 1.6 ounces
And according to USDA:
- Feet: 16.5 grams per 3 oz
There is very little-to-no information readily available for the protein content of chicken eyes, but you can assume that it is similar to that of a cow on a smaller scale.
The same goes for combs, but you can also reference the feet for a small comparison when guestimating protein content.
Chicken Protein: Before You Go…
When all is said and done, aside from the crop, trachea, gall bladder, pancreas, and other alimentary and membrane-lined digestive system elements, there isn’t much on a chicken you can’t consume.
But if you’re looking to get every last bit of protein out of your chicken, it’s time to start getting creative and thinking outside the box.