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Dark meat or white meat chicken on salad or pizza

White meat or dark meat: which do people prefer on salads, sandwiches and pizza, and why?

I own a pizza restaurant and I love dark meat. I buy boneless chicken thighs and poach them with garlic and salt and use the meat (in large dice), to add to salads, for hot sandwiches, and on pizza.

We (employees) love our chicken here. It's moist and flavorful. But lately customers have been complaining that they want white meat on their salads. I think white meat is flavorless, but I am gathering that I am in the minority.

Maybe I'm out of it... but is dark meat objectionable to most people?

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  1. I used to hate dark meat as a kid but as I grew up I have come to love dark meat. That being said I love breast meat on sandwiches in one meaty hunk with lots of veggies.

    People are prolly asking for white meat as it is leaner nad therefore perceived as more healthy.

    I would put dark meat on pizza and on hot sandwiches but give people a choice for salads and cold sandwiches.
    But that's just me :)

    1. I think the general public thinks of chicken as chicken breast unless it is a wing or fried (influenced by advertising that makes "all white meat" a great thing). In a service industry I think you have to listen to the customer. Personally I like both depending upon the dish, but I swear there are some people who think dark meat chicken is as "evil" as beef and perhaps even stranger...

      1 Reply
      1. re: torty

        Others can probably shed more scientific light but having grown up in both Taiwan and Central America, I remember the chicken breast as being moist and tender rather than dry and chewy. Even after coming to the US, I'd noticed the American chicken breast is less than tasty.

        With the advent of mondo agribusiness in the US, the American chicken is being raised to produce more breast and shelf life rather than for taste, so for me, the dark meat is what I want if I wanted to taste the chicken. If I was looking for something to fill me up when I am not eating for pleasure then I don't care whether it is breast or dark meat.

      2. If I was ordering a salad with chicken, I would assume it's white meat. I would probably send it back if it came with dark meat (sorry!)

        1 Reply
        1. re: burlgurl

          +1. I would assume white meat on a salad.

        2. I also would assume white meat esp. on a salad. As much as I try to like it, I am not a huge fan of dark meat, it has a slightly more "gamey" taste to me (I know, I'm weird! :-) ). I choose white over dark every time.

          4 Replies
          1. re: poptart

            I guess that makes me weird too :) but I'm with you poptart - the taste is a turnoff for me. And the texture also turns me off too. I would assume a salad in a restaurant is served using white meat. I'd also want it in chicken salad but since I'm really weird and worried that some dark meat might slip in, I rarely if ever order chicken salad out. I never grew out of my aversion to the stuff.

            1. re: pellegrino31

              Another weird one here. It's not about the perception of white meat being healthier, its about the taste and texture. To me, dark meat is slimy.

              I loved drumsticks as a kid (and my kids love them now); not sure when I crossed over to the white meat camp.

              1. re: valerie

                Add me to the weird list. I really don't care for the flavor of dark meat at all. I also grew up on drumsticks and thought white meat was dry. When I became an adult I realized that white meat is generally overcooked by most people. If you do it right it is more delicious than dark, especially with a good sauce or having been marinated.

                If I am served dark meat by a friend or family member I suck it up and eat a thigh, but I don't like it. A little bit of dark meat, along with white meat, mixed into a soup or something else, as long as it is in small pieces I can tolerate, too. If I had it served to me at a restaurant, and it wasn't specified that it was strictly dark meat, I would not be a happy customer. If you put on the menu "Chicken pizza, all dark meat" then I would just skip it.Thanks for asking!

                1. re: danhole

                  I'm in this same camp --- and I think most people these days are.

                  Another thing about the dark meat is that it's more likely to have "stuff" attached, like gristle or skin or fat, whereas with white meat it's just a chunk of meat. That aspect of dark meat puts me off. (Ever since my brother pointed out a vein in a drumstick so many years ago....)

          2. I do like dark meat. I also like chicken breast if it is seasoned well. You might need to do more with it, but white meat may make the customers happy.

            1. Although I enjoy dark meat (although I feel the meat around the feet is not particularly great and I love thighs much more), the typical customer reaction to being served dark meat in these dishes is one of "Ugh", or "Wow, they're really being cheap!". Generally, the only things I'd use dark meat of chicken for in a restaurant/dining setting is for braises and roasting (like roasted chicken), but not for sandwiches or pizzas or salads.

              1. I love dark meat chicken; it's actually my favorite meat. I prepare it usually at least two nights a week; roasted, stewed, slow-cooker, whatever. That being said, I am not a fan of it on pizza, and especially not in chicken salad. I think it's too strong a flavor, and overpowers rather than compliments the other flavors. I also put red grapes and basil in my chicken salad, so maybe it just doesn't go with those flavors. But since I am such a fan I tried it once, and, well, for lack of a better word,.... bleck.

                1. I prefer dark meat. But I think, in general a mix of both is the way to go. When I make any sort of chicken (cut up) dish, hot or cold, I use some of each - 'the rich and the poor' can balance out.

                  1. hi nene
                    Dark meat chicken, IMO, totally rules over the breast.
                    Bone in, is even better than boneless.
                    Chicken Breast in this day and age is FlavorLESS.
                    There are many ways to be creative with the dark meat.
                    Braising the dark meat is exceptional. I always utilize the dark meat to its fullest potential.

                    Not sure if (dark meat)served on Salad is going to go over well with the public.
                    Too Many SNOBS out there..I think you should state on ur menu that the leg and thigh are involved in ur dish to avoid any problems.

                    For the Love of Good.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: vealstew42

                      I'd have to say this post nailed it for me! (with exception of the snob part!!!)

                      Now, that said - most people in New Orleans (that I know), prefer thighs over breasts.
                      But we eat alot of things other people won't touch.

                      I'd personally prefer thighs in any dish.

                      That said, I think that white meat is more widely acceptable with the "American" Crowd.

                      1. re: vealstew42

                        Agree completely. But our chicken taste is in the minority of what I have seen from years of food service work. If I was designing a restaurant menu I would stick with white meat unless the focus was on bistro or homey roasts & braised dishes. Also, white meat does make a more visually attractive salad. *sigh* More thighs for us!

                      2. Is it possible to give them a choice.

                        I believe most Americans treat the unmodified word "chicken" as American tofu - white meat.

                        But we dark meat lovers would prefer to have the choice of dark...

                        1. For salads definitely white meat. I also prefer it for sandwiches. But for pizza, I wouldn't care if it was white or dark.

                          White meat is perceived as being healthier and also "higher end". In a salad, the dressing and other ingredients give the flavor and the chicken is just there for protein. PS, if you had a reduced fat dressing choice it would make the salad eaters even happier.

                          1. I prefer dark meat in all circumstances as it has most flavour. Unless the bird is organic or free range, I find the breast to be very bland - not at all chicken-y. So, as few commercial outlets use freerange or organic, it's not something I order often unless I know it's leg meat.

                            I should also mention that I'm British, so the idea of chicken on pizza is a bit strange to me. I think it's more an American thing than a European thing.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: Harters

                              I first saw pizza with chicken when I was in the UK in 1996 and thought it was some kind of strange British thing... Didn't really see it in the US until a few years ago.

                              1. re: deibu

                                Oh, we certainly have it. But it is a very very strange ingredient. Will usually have sweetcorn on it as well. A deeply unpleasant concept

                                1. re: Harters

                                  Corn on pizza -- a very Japanese thing! And mayo too!

                                2. re: deibu

                                  Chicken on pizza has been a California thing for at least 20 years. One of the staple "California pizzas" is the (ugh) BBQ chicken flavor.

                                3. re: Harters

                                  I'm American (and a new yorker) and I can't ever imagine a scenario where chicken on a pizza is an acceptable thing.

                                  1. re: ESNY

                                    Me too. The idea of chicken on pizza doesn't sit well with me. But I've seen breaded chicken on pizza a lot at your corner pizza place. So I'm assuming it's popular.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      Wolfgang Puck popularized chicken on pizza when he started redefining pizzas at Spago. My first experience with it was at a California Pizza Kitchen, where they had both tandoori chicken pizzas and Chinese style chicken pizzas with hoisin sauce.

                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                        Breaded Chicken on Pizza? WEIRD!

                                        I like tandoori chicken pizza, although I don't really think of it as "pizza" I think of it more like chicken on flatbread. But anyway...

                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          It's another version of a chicken parm. Chicken, cheese, sauce, over starch.
                                          I've seen it served with pasta, on bread (sammich) on flatbread (pizza)
                                          Weird? Why? You've had it before with a different starch.

                                          1. re: gordeaux

                                            I also do not find the idea of chicken on pizza appealing in the slightest. I prefer either veggie --- or pork.

                                          2. re: Miss Needle

                                            I absolutely love chicken white meat of course but the idea of chicken on pizza does not sound very appetizing to me. I like my pizza with sauce and cheese and that is all.

                                            1. re: Smileelisa

                                              I've never had it, but I read about a buffalo wing pizza somewhere. Chicken, buffalo wing sauce, blue cheese, all on a crust. Sounded interesting to me.

                                        2. re: Harters

                                          Seriously, Harters? You're saying this when the UK is home to Tuna and sweetcorn on pizza?

                                          1. re: Lizard

                                            To be fair, I have had that combo in a sandwich. Not too bad actually. Can not imagine it on a pizza though.

                                            I remember being served the combo, the lady unceremoniously opened up a can of sweet corn, drained the water and dumped it on a scoop of tuna salad.

                                        3. In this day, it would be wise to give ppl a choice, or disclose on the menu what bird part you intend to use in what dish. There will be a split of those who commend you for using a more flavorful dark park part, and those who prefer the white meat for whatever reason.

                                          I will always choose dark meat over white meat, but I can enjoy white meat if it's cooked properly.

                                          1. I prefer dark meat in any and every dish - that being said, I often buy a rotisserie chicken and eat the legs/thighs hot as a meal and save the breast to use in sandwiches, salads, pastas - anything that will add moistness and flavor! Since it's so bland and often dry on its own it seems a good fit for those things. Never did understand why the breasts are more expensive sincce they are not half as good!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: foodhypnosis

                                              I save the breasts to later shred and pour hot soup over them. The biggest mistakes people make with cooked breasts is (1) dicing rather than shredding them (OK if you eat them cold, but that cut makes them rubbery if reheated), and (2) reheating rather than warming them. They should generally not be *cooked* twice.

                                            2. Dark meat for me, always. It's the norm in my family. Grandma's chicken and noodles is made with the hindquarters. I once suggested turning some leftover chicken breasts into chicken salad. She looked at me as though I were crazy "It'll have no FLAVOR!" We threw them in a pan with some marinara and mozzarella instead lol

                                              1. Thanks all. This is a big help!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: NeNePie

                                                  NeNe, definitely dark meat for me. I live in Montréal near the Jean-Talon market, Italian shops, East and southeast Asian shops, North African and Lebanese shops, South Asian shops and Latino shops. All but the fancier places at the market sell either whole chickens or legs. I just made wonderful chicken soup boiling bones and then adding some grain fed legs which I gently poached... The meat will go in soups or salads for a week.

                                                  That said, while your pizza and chicken sound great, I don't like chicken on pizza, nor do I much like any meat on pizza...

                                                2. I'm with you NeNe. Anytime I get to have a choice, it's dark meat for me. But if I am making something for others, I try to use a mix since most people seem to prefer white meat. I would love to try your pizza restaurant. What part of the country are you in?

                                                  1. I'm a white meat chicken girl. The dark meat parts always taste stinky-footy and chew very rubbery to me. I further dislike the crazy veins that I may bite into, say in a leg (which I stopped eating in the 80's)
                                                    I have to sit in the "objectionable" booth and ask for white meat on my salad (just keep it away from my pizza pie!)

                                                    1. Dark meat chicken looks icky to me. I can't eat it. But, my husband loves it.

                                                      1. FYI - skinless dark meat has marginally more fat (7g vs. 4g in one cup cooked, diced), and significantly more iron than skinless white meat. For this reason, and for reasons of taste, I prefer dark meat.

                                                        1. I'm white and my wife is Asian, and our whole family loves Church's Fried Chicken. One night, after a long hard day shopping at Detroit's suburban malls, we decided to pick up some Church's before heading home to Windsor. We pulled off I-75 when we spotted a Church's sign. I went in to order.

                                                          It was quite amusing; I was the only white person in place, and I got a lot of astonished looks from the other customers. I took my place in line, and when I ordered a 12 piece to go, the counterman asked "All white?". When I replied "No, all dark", he looked even more astonished, but he smiled at me as he handed my order.

                                                          None of us hate white meat, but we all find dark meat better tasting.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: KevinB

                                                            I'm with you, NeNePie, dark meat it is. Turkey or chicken.

                                                            Then again, I eat gizzards and chicken feet and the small bone on the chicken wing and the gristle off of the legs and breastbone, so you can't go by me.

                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                              Real (organic, small-farm reared) chicken tastes much more like dark meat.

                                                              Well, if people are prepared to spend more for the tasteless white meat, that keeps the dark at a good price for us!

                                                              And obviously, if I'm using it in a salad, soup etc, I remove any veins and such... Feed them to my cat.

                                                          2. I grew up in a dark-meat-preferred family, and married into a dark-meat-ONLY one; the TG turkey is a "four-legged" one (cooked with an extra set of "landing gear"), as the breast is considered fit only for sandwiches. As for chicken salad, I feel short-changed if there isn't some dark meat in there, and almost got into a fistfight one afternoon with a food/restaurant writer on exactly that subject, as she insisted that anything but white meat in there was simply unacceptable. Of course, she was also known to write disparagingly of restaurants whose lamb tasted too much like lamb, nor would she consider tasting tripe. I have noticed that those respondents who dislike dark meat similarly are repelled by earthy, gamy or "heavy" tastes, or of anything that reminds one too much of the meat's animal origins, whereas I and (almost) all of my family mostly take great delight in such things. Chacon á son goût...

                                                            1. Dark meat for me, please. I've got nothing against white meat, if it's well-cooked (i.e., not overcooked and dry). But I agree with you - dark has more flavor.

                                                              1. Dark meat all the way. I'm all about flavour ...

                                                                In order of preference:

                                                                1. The oysters and lovely bits of back meat
                                                                2. Wings
                                                                3. Thighs
                                                                4. Drumsticks
                                                                5. Tenderloins
                                                                6. Rest of the breast
                                                                7. Oh and let's not forget feet, liver, gizzards, hearts and all those neglected good bits !!!!

                                                                This question is similar to the question of people's favourite cuts of hoofed animals. Ask most people, they'll tell you they like tenderloins, fillets and sirloin the best. But me .... Gimme lamb shanks, osso buco, beef brisket, spare ribs and pork belly. That's where the flavour's at.

                                                                1. I won't touch dark meat chicken. Only white meat for my husband and myself. If it is cooked properly it is very moist. I just made oven fried chicken the other nite. I coated the chicken (boneless skinless) with mustard and rolled it in flavored bread crumbs. I add some spices and bake it for 25 minutes in a 375 oven. It is so moist and flavorful that way.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Smileelisa

                                                                    A boneless skinless thigh will be three times as moist and flavorful as your breast comes out. Too bad you won't touch it.

                                                                    1. re: gordeaux

                                                                      It may be moister, but I think the taste is simply a matter of personal preference. I cook both, as my husband prefers dark meat, and I just don't.

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        Isn't that moistness from fat? Just wondering.

                                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                                            You say that like it's a bad thing! ; )

                                                                            Probably most of it's from fat, but some is from collagen and/or connective tissue.

                                                                    2. I'm with you but agree we're in the minority. I would think CHers would slant more toward dark meat than the general population. Tasteless boneless skinless breasts are even showing up in Indian and Mexican stews and the like, and those folks know better...

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. I only eat white meat. It's a childish aversion, but I can't get over it. My dogs and cats benefit, as I always cook the whole chicken or turkey but only want the breast meat. I find that cooked properly it is never dry or tasteless as some people claim.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                          Exactly Catskill! I don't get how people claim it is tasteless. I say they just don't know how to do it correctly. Mine is delicious.

                                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                                            catskillgirl and danhole:
                                                                            The issue I have with chicken breast does not stem from MY kitchen. I really know how to cook it up nice and juicy. It's when I go to restaurants that have no idea how to cook it, (or can't cook it to a perfect medium)that it is problematic. Dark will always have more flavor, and be juicier since it has more fat. White will be more susceptible to drying out, and have less flavor because of the same reason. I can do both, and prefer dark, because more often than not, it will be juicier and more flavorful. If I'm cooking the white meat, however, it will be done nice and juicy too.

                                                                            1. re: gordeaux

                                                                              I wasn't singling you out at all. You're right, even restaurants can mess up a perfectly good chicken breast. I just can't get past the taste of dark, and I have tried to.

                                                                        2. I enjoyed reading this thread. I always felt I was an inferior foodie for strongly preferring white meat. Maybe I am still, but I'm happy to see I'm not alone.

                                                                          White chicken meat is typically not very flavorful, I agree. (It is probably more accurate to say that it has a strong, but one-dimensional, "white chicken meat" flavor.) But at a restaurant that uses high quality chickens, it is delicious. It takes on some of the flavors of dark meat without being slimy and gamey. Also, white meat chicken can easily be used as a somewhat neutral, textural protein base for other flavors (see chicken tikka masala).

                                                                          I only enjoy dark meat chicken in rare circumstances. A typical one is when it is shredded in a dry, spicy ethnic dish. In such a dish, the extra flavor is needed to allow the chicken to sing through the spices. Shredding it gets rid of the sliminess. I also enjoy dark meat chicken when it is smoked (again, getting rid of the sliminess, and adding flavor to counterbalance). If there is chewy gristle or weird things going on beyond just dark muscle, then I am always, without a single exception, displeased.

                                                                          To answer the original poster's question, I wouldn't consider your use of dark meat an objective flaw, because I recognize that many people consider dark meat superior. I just wouldn't come back to your restaurant. It is possible, however, that I might like dark meat on the pizza, depending on how it is prepared.

                                                                          1. I see it as a perceived value issue. People see white meat (breast) and being better because it's usually more expensive. Therefore they expect it when ordering out. Also appearance wise breast can be more appealing because it's easier to uniformally cut/cube, while it's hard to make thighs look as good (unless shredded).
                                                                            Personally I expect to see white meat, but perfer to eat dark.

                                                                            1. I LOVE DARK MEAT!

                                                                              I truly believe that many people don't like white meat because there's a stigma attached to it. Dark meat seems "dirty" and "cheap". You know what I say? "Mooooo!" I love dark meat and I'm so glad I am not influenced by norms to be able to discern true quality:)