Monday, 9 January 2017

Removing Skin from Chicken Drumsticks, Thighs & Breasts - Pros vs Cons & How To

Is It Best to Always Remove Skin from Chicken Before Cooking?

The advice to remove skin from chicken drumsticks, thighs & breast as part of healthy eating plan is very long-standing, but is it best to always do so? Within the context of an overall healthy, balanced diet, what are the pro's and con's to this cooking tip?

Six Benefits to Removing Chicken Skin

It's an indisputable fact that removing the skin from chicken pieces prior to cooking does:


  1. reduce the calories (by up to 27%)
  2. reduce the total fat (by up to 77%)
  3. reduce the saturated fat (by up to 81%).

Just take a look at the table below which shows the differences per 100g of skin-on vs skin-less chicken:


  1. Reducing the calories that you eat will be an important consideration to anyone following a restricted calorie weight-loss plan
  2. What's more, reducing the saturated fat in your diet is essential for anyone wanting to follow a cholesterol-lowering diet.
  3. And, it's not all about health. Leaving the skin on chicken doesn't work well in some recipes or dishes, for example in the long, slow-cooking process for curry, stews or casseroles not for dishes such as chicken stir-fry

1 Reason Why You May Not Want to Take-Off Chicken Skin (Every Now & Then)

  1. Within the context of recommended daily calorie, total fat and saturated fat intake, the absolute difference (as opposed to the percentage difference) between skin-on and skin-off for chicken breast meat is relatively small, especially when considered as part of the day as a whole. For example, compare a fairly standard portion of chicken breast, say 170g (6oz) in size. Eating this sized chicken breast with the skin on would add:
  • 51 kcal - which equates to 2.0%-2.3% of recommended daily calorie intake
  • 6.3g total fat - which equates to 6.6%-9% of recommended daily fat intake
  • 1.4g saturated fat - which equates to 7.4%-11% of recommended daily fat intake
What's more, there's fewer calories and less fat and saturated fat per 100g in a skin-on chicken breast than a skin-less thigh or drumstick. So let's take a closer look at these and the maths is really not favourable when looking at a chicken thigh or drumstick. Eating either of these chicken portions with the skin-on (based on 150g (5.3oz) boneless joint) would add:
  • 93 kcal - which equates to 3.7%-4.7% of recommended daily calorie intake
  • 11.9g total fat - which equates to 13.2%-16.9% of recommended daily fat intake
  • 5.6g saturated fat - which equates to 18.5%-27.8% of recommended daily fat intake

Skin-on or skin-off?

The decision is obviously entirely yours, dependent upon your healthy eating goals. If you want to remove the skin from a chicken drumstick, thigh or breast but have found it a little tricky in the past, then take a look at my quick how-to video:

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