People Realize Chicken Thighs Taste Good, Now Cost Same As Breasts

For too long, chicken thighs were the ignored child of the chicken meat family, relegated to bulk packs at ridiculously low prices. For people that knew what to do with the less-desired but more flavorful dark meat, it meant tasty meals that didn’t break the bank. But the secret is now out, and consumers are starting to pay top dollar for the one-time bargain poultry parts.

With celebrity chefs extolling the virtues of thighs and drumsticks on TV, grocery buyers have started gobbling up dark meat. Additionally, reports the AP, new equipment has automated the deboning process for the tricky cuts, meaning boneless dark meat is now more readily available to consumers.

Alas, all the increased demand for dark meat — along with stagnant demand for chicken breasts — has meant there is virtually no price difference between the two:

Dark meat historically has been cheaper than white, but according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, wholesale boneless, skinless thighs now cost as much as breasts, and sometimes more. Both averaged $1.33 a pound in March, but thigh prices were up 15 percent from a year earlier, while breasts were up only 1 percent. Bone-in leg quarters averaged 53 cents per pound in March, up 26 percent from a year ago.

In fact, some shoppers tell the AP that they have seen dark meat being sold for more than its paler counterpart.

Dark meat may no longer — or at least for the time being — be the bottom-dollar option it used to be, but meat maestro Pat LaFrieda of the Food Network’s Meat Men, has some advice for those who want a clue about other meats that may not yet be getting their due.

“If you’re looking for what the next trend is,” he tells the AP, “always ask the butcher what he takes home.”

Prices go thigh-high as consumers seek dark meat [AJC.com]

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  1. AtlantaCPA says:

    The thing I hate about cooking with thighs is cutting away the extra fat. It’s hiding in all kinds of places in the thigh. They taste better but they’re so much more work I often just go for the breast in a recipe.

    • alana0j says:

      Amen to that! I get angry trying to get all that fat off the chicken, especially when my rather large best friend is hanging over my shoulder, insisting that the fat “is yummy”….

      • OSAM says:

        Well that fat IS yummy. That’s one of the reasons dark-meat cuts of chicken are tastier (the bones usually help too). Same goes for beef: bought any Wagyu recently?

        • alana0j says:

          Wagyu? I’ve not heard of it.

          And I know it’s tasty lol but I also know that I’m a good weight because I remind myself that yummy doesn’t mean healthy

    • chefboyardee says:

      agreed, and in one-pot, long-cook dishes like chicken adobo if you use the bone-in thighs you get the best flavor, but the worst eating experience as you pick cartilage and other crap out as you eat. boneless thighs work nicely but then you lose the cost benefit.

    • shthar says:

      That’s where all the vitamins are!

  2. Jane_Gage says:

    I intercept the organ meat before the landladies feed it to the dog.

  3. NickJames says:

    God damnit! I always disliked white meat because it lacked flavor and was usually dry and the extra cost didn’t help…

  4. Abradax says:

    That sucks. I love cooking up some Chicken thighs and rice pilaf for a really cheap dinner.

  5. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    I was told the same thing happened with chicken livers some years ago – many butchers pretty much just dumped them and then people relaized how really healthy they were with B-12, A, iron, etc. Now they ain’t so cheap.

    • The Cybernetic Entomologist says:

      They may be full of vitamins and all, but factory farmed chicken livers are full of all kinds of other crap you don’t want to ingest.

  6. crispyduck13 says:

    God dammit. All you yuppies need to stay the hell off my thigh meat! And the same goes for the assholes buying up all the dark meat chicken!

  7. zegota says:

    Y’all can have it. Good riddance to dark meat.

  8. CrankyOwl says:

    Blecchh. They’re all fatty & greasy :(

  9. crispyduck13 says:

    To all the people who don’t cook with dark meat because they get fatty or greasy results:

    Step 1: remove the skin, trim off any excess fat you see.
    Step 2: braise the meat in a flavorful liquid in a pot on the stove, it can be anything as long as the meat is at least half submerged. Low and slow for at least 30 minutes, the meat will tear easily with a fork when done. At this point there will be no fat left hidden in the meat, it will be in the liquid.
    Step 3: Optional! Cool the meat in the liquid and store the whole pot in the fridge overnight. The next day scrape off all the conveniently hardened fat, reheat the pot over the stove and serve.

    • Kate says:

      Oh, just throw the whole chicken into a solar cooker (or slow cooker) on a bed of rice with a layer of onions and potatoes on top and cook the whole thing all day.

      Meat will fall off the bone, the whole thing will be wonderful and you will eat every scrap.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Hot damn, that is a good idea!

      • Round-Eye 外人はコンスマリッストが好きです。 says:

        Could you provide a more complete recipe? This sounds like something I’d love to do, but I’m not as handy with just knowing how much of each ingredient goes together. But I’d like to try this.

  10. fs2k2isfun says:

    I want to know where I can buy chicken breasts for $1.33/lb. I usually see closer to $2.49.

    • caradrake says:

      Walmart’s normal price (around here at least) is $1.88. Albertson’s is usually expensive, but at least once a month they go on sale for $1.44 and occasionally $1.22. Albertson’s are sold with two breasts connected, so you need need to do a bit of butchering when you get home, but I used to buy about 10-20 pounds at once, prep them, put in freezer bags, and pull out as needed.

    • pythonspam says:

      “wholesale boneless, skinless thighs now cost as much as breasts, and sometimes more. Both averaged $1.33 a pound in March”

      Wholesale may be $1.33/lb; I regularly see them on sale for $1.79-$1.99/lb.

  11. dolemite says:

    I’m a breast guy. Give me just breast…I’ll eat thigh or leg as a last resort, and wings rarely.

  12. denros says:

    Anyone actually surprised that white meat didn’t go down in price, in turn? I mean, really, are people just literally eating 15% more chicken all of the sudden?

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      That’s the real story, IMO. Supply and demand seemingly only work when it’s to justify raising prices.

    • erinpac says:

      They may be eating more chicken; especially if it is still cheaper than other meats.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      People are still eating it. It’s use is “stagnant”, or the same as always. It’s that now there is an additional demand for dark meat from consumers.

  13. evilpete says:

    Same thing happened with chicken wings

  14. dush says:

    Dark meat was cheaper so demand went up with hard times. Skyrocketing demand increases the prices.

    • OSAM says:

      Then why didn’t the cost of breasts go down?

      Supply/Demand is SUPPOSED to work both ways…

  15. josephpr says:

    I prefer the dark meat on poultry, but hadn’t bought it in a while since it had gone up so close to breast prices, but I did get some on sale and braised. Chicken wings were usually cheap, but now so many restaurants feature them, they are no longer a deal.
    Same thing happened with short ribs – they became the restaurant trend item, and I swear, it is cheaper now to buy rib roast – but every recipe for them starts “This inexpensive cut of meat….” maybe in 1983.

  16. Not Given says:

    I used to buy 10 pound bags of leg quarters for $3.70 at Walmart.

    • pythonspam says:

      leg quarters (with skin and bones) are still cheap, its the boneless/skinless that are going up in price.

  17. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Are chicken legs still cheaper? I prefer those to the thighs. I don’t really like dark meat.

  18. Rocket says:

    *giggle* Breasts.

  19. MaytagRepairman says:

    Squirrel – the other dark meat.

  20. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Yep, another less expensive meat gone. I used to buy leg quarters for 39 cents a pound in 10 pound bags, then it went to 49 cents, then higher and higher. Now they’re over a dollar a pound.

    The deer family that visits the field behind my house is looking tastier and tastier! And Mr. Squirrel, who raids my bird feeder, you’re looking mighty good too.

  21. Nogard13 says:

    I just went grocery shopping today (Raleigh, NC). Both were on sale (bone-in, skin-on), with the Thighs costing 99-cents a pound and the breasts costing $1.29 a pound. So, yeah, they’re getting close.

    However, the leg quarters were only 50-cents a pound, so that’s what I went for.

  22. sir_eccles says:

    Maybe we need a new manufactroversy like pink slime and they’ll drop in price again.

    Umm, did you know chicken thighs were deboned by child labor in china?

  23. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    In many Asian/Middle East countries the choice meat is the dark meat – breast meat being too bland.

  24. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Marinated and slow grilled. Yum!

  25. ILoveBacon says:

    Sucks for me, I’ve always far preferred the dark meat.

    • Southern says:

      I used to love the dark meat chicken nuggets from McDonalds. I can’t stand them now that they’re all dry white meat.

  26. sadie kate says:

    Chicken thighs may be over a dollar a pound here, but chicken breasts are typically $3.99/pound if there are no sales going on, so it’s still a cheaper option for me. Not to mention, they’re way tastier.

  27. Nyxalinth says:

    My mother wouldn’t touch thighs or drumsticks if she were starving to death. I like them, but tend to prefer they’ve been refrigerated first, otherwise the fat has a sort of slimy texture that puts me off.

  28. DZ says:

    Bring on those Buffalo Thighs! For the last many years, they didn’t look very dark as compared to when I was growing up. Don’t think my eyesight is that bad! And finally, that thigh is/was my favorite piece because of all the meat.

  29. Jawaka says:

    Meh, as the price goes up less people will buy it until the price goes back down again. Breasts are the better more healthy meat (though thighs do taste better). If the prices are identical the majority will go back to purchasing breasts.

  30. Carlos Spicy Weiner says:

    The best tasting meat is in the thighs ;-)

  31. Patriot says:

    Why do the hottest parts on a woman also make the best tasting parts on a chicken?

  32. ryes says:

    Cook’s Illustrated has had a big influence on my use of chicken thighs. After their recipe for coq au vin which uses only thighs and is utterly delicious. I haven’t used other parts since. The other benefit of thighs is that they don’t require brining to remain tender and juicy.

  33. tooluser says:

    My local grocery sells Pope’s Noses for 10 cents a piece. That cannot last!

  34. pika2000 says:

    I always thought that they priced white (breast) meat higher due to the lower fat content, and to match the “healthier” expectation from consumer. I guess it’s just about popularity now.

  35. Orrie says:

    Next Up: Dog thighs and hocks on sale, value-pack crispy roaches & grasshoppers 2 for $10.99. The 1% won’t be satisfied until all we can afford is gruel. Disgusting.

  36. FedoraFetish says:

    Since I was a little kid I could never understand how the hell anyone could like white meat chicken. Since it was always the adults who “liked” the white meat (yeah right, probably just thought it was healthier) I figured it was something I’d grow to like once I grew up…nope. Actually its worse because white meat also gives me real bad reflux these days.

    Anyway, yeah, I never paid attention to chicken prices, but sad that I’ll be spending more money just because other adults have stopped being so phony pretentious about their poultry choices.

  37. speaky2k says:

    I just bought a pack of bone in thighs at my local market last night and they were more than $2 less per pound then bone in breasts. I looked and the boneless thighs were also about $2 less per pound then the boneless breast meat. All of these prices have gone up in the past year, but not as much as beef & pork prices. However I have noticed the price of the “best of the boneless” packs (4 boneless thighs, 1 boneless breast) have increased more than either boneless pack separately in the past year, so I no longer buy them. One other thing I did notice is that the bone in & boneless turkey packs are still about the same price they were a year ago.

  38. CalicoGal says:

    Thighs = yuk! Too rubbery and gamey.

    I’m a breast gal.

  39. Snip says:

    It still costs lower in the supermarkets near me. Guess I’d better stock up.

  40. JMH says:

    “With celebrity chefs extolling the virtues of thighs and drumsticks on TV, grocery buyers have started gobbling up dark meat. “

    Thanks for ruining a good thing, “celebrity chefs”.

  41. Spaghettius! says:

    Dammit! I prefer thighs to breasts (cheaper, tastier, moist and more forgiving of accidental overcooking).
    We did this to ourselves: the United States, until recently, exported dark meat to Russia (where it is actually preferred) because so few people bought it at home, but Russia is no longer accepting it. From what I understand, the US is going to funnel that meat to a few Asian countries (where they, too, have a taste for legmeats over breastmeats)… so the demand in the US is going up on a product that’s in short supply due to being exported because demand has been so low.
    Who are all you people that love stringy dry white meat so much? I hold you responsible.

  42. soj4life says:

    Well you see this with how much uncooked wings cost vs thighs or breasts. I like to use the drums for buffalo chicken, but the prices have been going up which sucks.

  43. WhenPigsFly says:

    Gosh darnit! the price of chicken thighs just went up after this article!