Chicken Thighs vs. Chicken Breasts & What's the Ultimate Poultry Pick?

The debate between the chicken thighs vs breast has been one that's continued over generations. You've probably read up on the pros and cons of both, and have received mixed advice. Some books and websites encourage the strict and sole use of chicken breasts, while others scream high praise for and swear by chicken thighs.

What's the real deal, here? Which is better for you, which should you be eating, and are there negative connotations to choosing the chicken breast vs the thighs?

Why Chicken?

Crispy baked chicken thighs in a creamy spinach artichoke heart sauce

Getty Images

First, let's talk chicken. In the health and wellness sector of the world, chicken is a hot commodity and something that's always present in the fridge. Why is that? Well, chicken is a great source of lean protein, which allows you to fill up on good-for-you calories that won't be wasted. This is true whether you're having crispy chicken wings or chicken leg cooked as drumsticks.

Instead, the protein that fills you up mixed with generally low fat and calorie count, will give you the energy to get through your days and post-workouts. In addition to the protein content, chicken has various vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, which can help boost your body's immunity to sickness and can also balance out your cholesterol, according to Organic Facts.

Chicken is also a winner for ease of buying and cooking. Sure, you can buy a whole chicken, but you can also buy skinless chicken breasts and skinless chicken thighs, and you can get both of them bone-in or boneless, depending on your chicken recipes. Basically, no matter how you plan to cook chicken, you can find the main ingredient ready to go.

Fat Content in Chicken Breast vs Thighs

In comparison, one key difference between the two is the fat content. Chicken thigh meat tends to be fattier than their leaner companion. The dark meat is kept moist by the layer of skin that's usually kept on thighs when sold at supermarkets.

Though chicken breast meat can be bought with the skin on, they're harder to find. The moisture of the meat has fairly little to do with its overall nutritional value, as either part of the chicken has the same relative amounts of iron, sodium, and cholesterol (the good kind).

grill of chicken meat.

Getty Images

As for the number of grams of fat in chicken breast vs thighs, don't be alarmed by chicken thighs taking home the gold in this department. Yes, there is more fat on a thigh (dark meat) than is on a breast (white meat). However, this fat is the good kind. What, you didn't know there was a good kind of fat? Ahh, another myth and food faux pas of the past.

According to Body Ecology, monounsaturated fat — the kind that's in chicken thighs — can help aid in weight loss, control and reduce pesky cholesterol numbers, and even lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. The American Heart Association even recommends that the majority of your daily fat intake should be of the monounsaturated kind.

Flavor: Breasts vs. Thighs

In the flavor department, chicken thighs win before you even start the seasoning or marinade process. Because they're dark meat, chicken thighs naturally have a more intense and flavorful edge to them.

If you aren't into the skin that makes these bad boys everything they are, just bake the thighs with the skin on for a self-basting result, and strip it off when cooking is complete. Therefore, you get all of the moisture and flavor with less of the fat. Win-win, are we right?

Budget-Friendly Option?

Southwestern Chicken Chopped Salad

Getty Images

Lastly, there's the economical standpoint. This shouldn't be surprising if you've been to a grocery store in the last decade, but chicken thighs are more affordable than the breast. The reasoning for this (in the United States, at least) is that thighs are less commonly bought than breasts. Markets can up-sell breasts at any price due to the popularity of chicken breasts in North America.

See, the United States and Canada are two of the few countries around the world that use white meat more than dark meat, said Joe Crea of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Over the last year, Joe Super of the National Chicken Council said that chicken thighs sales have increased notably. This is likely due to a shift from normal low-fat diets to those that welcome its presence and see it as a means of survival, such as is so within the Paleo lifestyle community.

With food and health trends constantly shifting, it's important to keep your facts straight from false health advertising. At the end of the day, both chicken breasts and thighs are succulent and delicious along with being great for you — it's all about personal preference.

READ MORE: Can You Refreeze Thawed Chicken