What’s The Difference: Dark Meat Vs. White Meat

Do you love your wings or tenders more?

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ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

Do you order thighs and wings with your fried chicken order or are chicken breasts your favorite cut? Whichever cut you prefer, the reasons behind your choice can be as simple as a preference or it can be because you believe it's the healthier cut. 

If you have wondered what the difference is between dark meat and white meat, here are the facts: 

1 Pork and beef also have dark and white meat. 

Chicken is usually what you think of when you think of dark and white meat. However, pork, beef, and other cuts of meat also have dark and white meat.

  • Dark meat are the meat from the chicken wings, thighs, and drumsticks. These are the same cuts that would be found on the shoulder, legs, and other limbs found on pork and beef. 
  • White meat are the meat from the meatier parts of the animal so this is commonly the breast where the ribs are as well as the tenderloin on the back.
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2 Dark meat is redder than white meat. 

This is the most obvious distinction between the two kinds of meat. Dark meat is darker because it's the meat that has more oxygen pumped into them since these are the muscles that worked the most. That's why these cuts of meat are commonly in the limbs such as the wings and legs. These cuts have a higher concentration of myoglobin, the plasma that is responsible for the red color of meat.  


White meat is usually the meat that is least used or exercised. The back and especially the tenderloin and loin cuts of pork and beef are considered white meat since these are the least worked and is commonly the most tender, too. 

3 Dark meat is fattier than white meat so it stays moist as it cooks.  

It's common to find dark meat such as legs and thighs as the preferred cuts for grilling and frying. This is because there is more fat in these cuts than in white meat. While you can cook white meat and prevent it from drying out, the fat in dark meat naturally keeps it more moist. 

The fat in these cuts is also the reason why many people who are on diets or who are watching their weight choose white meat. However, it has been found that the fat in dark meat, such as chicken thighs, is actually healthy fat and so, can be part of a healthy diet.  



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