# What is the meat yield of a whole chicken?

I can buy a whole chicken at the store for around \$1/pound. Actual pure meat, things like boneless breasts, often cost \$5+. What percentage of a whole chicken is actually meat, though, rather than skin, bones, and fat? I want to figure out how much I’m paying for a pound of meat when I buy the whole bird.

The best way to determine this would probably be to cook a bird, remove every piece of meat you intend to eat and weigh the remainder.

I think boneless breasts are the most expensive way of buying chicken - which is odd as it is the least flavoursome part.

70:30 seems to be the most often quoted ratio between meat:carcas

But this does sound like a great home experiment to try - your definition of “meat” might vary to others (e.g. parson’s nose, some people eat it and some discard it)

First compare the whole chicken to the sum of its parts with bone/skin (breast with bone/skin, thighs with bone/skin, etc.). Then compare these parts to their boneless/skinless counterparts. Average these two sets of numbers, and you get the ratio of whole/boneless. Apply that to the whole chicken.

It’s only an approximation, but you can do it without actually buying anything.

Significantly more than my dog, which is lucky for the dog.

Plus: Soup!

Exactly. With one chicken carcass and your choice of slightly-past-their-prime vegetables from the bottom of your fridge, you can make 2-4 cups of good stock, depending on how much you cook it down and how big the chicken is. So you can get another few bucks worth out of that chicken.

I usually just keep a gallon-size bag in the freezer and toss in any bones (mostly chicken along with the odd beef or pork bone) and useful leftover bits of veggies. A full bag of bones and some additional veggies fills my stock pot, so in everything goes and several hours later you’ve got stock. In the fridge it lasts a week or two, or you can freeze it almost indefinitely.

I think the five to one ratio of cost you site includes a heavy premium.
Various pieces of the chicken have little meat. The wings have little meat. Breast and leg quarters have the most meat. And that \$5/# meat has some water in it too.

I would guess a whole chicken would render no more than 50% of the weight in meat, perhaps even less. Cut off the skin and fat first. Cook well and lots of water comes out. Discard the bones and further non-edible portions and you don’t have much left. I can buy 10# of frozen leg quarters at ALDI for \$5.99. The yield is pretty good.

It’s not a scam. People just need to understand what they are receiving.

(boy, I haven’t done this in a long time)

meat yield… band name!

I have some oriental friends that are fond of chicken feet. I don’t mention when I’m passing by the oriental supermarket anymore. They will ask me to pick up chicken feet and duck wings for them. The only thing worse than that is picking up live crabs.

Cooking it first would give you terrible results for the experiment. A lot of fat and water cooks out, but no bone.

For the OP, I can’t do any better than the 1/3 bone ratio another poster mentioned. I would recommend asking your local butcher - after all, they have to know these things to price their meats effectively.

One thing to keep in mind is that the amount of meat per bone is higher in larger birds, which is true for turkeys too. So a 5-lb chicken is going to have a different ratio than a 3-lb one.

Also, a lot depends on the type of chickens. Like beef (dairy vs. meat), modern chickens have been bred to specialize. Chickens raised for meat will be significantly different than egg-laying chickens.

My mother used to have laying hens on the farm, fed mostly from kitchen scraps, and she butchered them in the fall. She said they produced so little meat that it took nearly a whole chicken per person for a meal. Not worth the effort she said, – far better for soups or stews.

Buy a whole chicken and boil it or rotisserie it. De-bone it and weigh just the meat you consider edible. Take the price you paid for the chicken and divide it by the weight of edible meat. That’s your cost / lb. of A.

Next buy a package of boneless skinless chicken meat you would otherwise use. Boil it or bake it and then weigh it. Take the price you paid and divide by the weight of the cooked boneless skinless meat. That’s your cost / lb. of B.

I would expect A to be much less than B. The difference is the cost of de-boning and deskinning by the butcher. If the difference is less than your own time to de-bone and de-skin is worth, then let the butcher do it and by boneless skinless meat. If the difference is more than your own time is worth, buy the whole chicken and do it yourself.

I grew up in a Jewish family, and when I was a kid we used to get freshly-killed whole chickens. Everything was intact except for the feathers (and the clucking). Lots of parts, including the feet, were made into chicken soup. And it’s a good thing chickens have two feet, because my brother and I each got one.

I’ve eaten chicken feet while in China. Surely you mean the leg. As the feet are not that tasty or meaty.

I was talking about actual feet. I recall she would boil the feet to soften them up first. I never observed the actual consumption process, so I can’t say if they actually ate the feet or just sucked on them or something like that.

I googled chicken feet recipes and got 280,000 hits.

50% useable meat is a good figure, especially if you are removing the skin. If your trying to figure out how many people can be fed, use the 50% figure. Larger chickens should yield more. And as people have mentioned, every thing that can’t cleanly be seperated as meat, is still useful for making stock. If you like dark meat, you can probably get thighs for well under \$1 a pound, and a yield of more than 50% of meat per pound.

I did a “sort of” experiment today.

I bought a 1.36kg chicken and poached it for 1hr20m in water (with herbs, onions and carrots etc).

Once it was done I separated the meat from the bones.

I ended up with 450g of usable meat and 450g of bones/skin etc (the latter includes some of the weird dark meat which some people might eat).

That left 450g unaccounted for but I did end up with 3 litres of top notch stock for soup / risotto etc. I presume the extra is fat and moisture which has been added to the stock.

We paid £3.79 for the chicken, which works out at £2.79/kg uncooked weight.

So for £3.79 we got 450g of usable meat, which works out at £8.40/kg.

A pack of chicken breasts (of equivalent quality*) costs £10.99/kg uncooked.

However, a pack of similar chicken thighs is only £3.49/kg uncooked.

This size chicken would probably feed 2-3 people so a larger bird would give you more bang for your buck.

So overall it looks like you get a slightly better deal with a whole chicken than with just chicken breasts, but an equivalent mix of thigh, drumstick and breast might be about the same.

Of course you don’t get all that lovely stock with the pre-packaged portions.

*Not free-range or organic, but one step up from mass-produced broilers.