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Jan 9, 2012 09:07 AM

Why are chicken breasts so HUGE?

Am I the only person that thinks the size of chicken breast halves have gotten to be ridiculously huge? My family consists of just me, and my 15 year old daughter. We both have small to average appetites. Because we're on a budget, we eat a lot of chicken.

in the US, the majority of adults are dealing with weight issues. Luckily, we're not. But the serving size for chicken is 4 oz. It used to be the "average" boneless chicken breast weighed in at about 4-5 oz., but in the past few years I've noticed they're getting larger and larger. Now I'm bringing home breasts that often weigh in at 12+ oz. each!!!

How many families cook ONE chicken breast half, and divide it among three people? None, I bet. So people are either eating MUCH more than they should, or wasting a whole lotta food.

The bone-in breasts are just as bad. I bought a package of three bone-in breast halves yesterday - and the package weighed 4.25 ibs. That means each breast half weighs almost 1.5 lbs.!

Most recipes which use whole boneless (or bone-in) breasts are written for breasts iin the 4-6 oz. range. I used to make a lot of stuffed boneless breasts for freezing (such as Chicken Kiev, Chicken Cordon Bleu, etc.) but I can't do that anymore because there is NO way either one of us can eat an entire 12 oz. breast. I've been unsuccessful in my attempts to cut the boneless breasts in half before stuffing (wrong shape - I can't get the stuffing properly enclosed). Cutting them in half after cooking makes the fillling leak out - so one of us gets it all, while the other gets none.

It's aggravating. If I knew who to complain to, I would.

Maybe we should start a petition or something!

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  1. Yeah, I've wondered about this, too. "How big was that whole bird?" I've asked myself.

    Make Chicken Kiev out of one of those things and you've got trouble: Chicken Kiev-zilla, the Attack of the Killer Kiev, something like that.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Bada Bing

      I remember when I used to buy the "family pack" of boneless breasts at Stop & Shop, there would be 10-12 breast halves in the package. Now there are six, but the package weighs the same. It's crazy.

      1. re: Bada Bing

        "How big was that whole bird?" I've asked myself.
        sadly, probably not much bigger than its ancestors in any area other than the breast...and as a result it likely spent most of its life barely able to move or walk around because its breast area was too disproportionately enormous and heavy for its frame to bear. if you ever see a video of those Frankenbreasted chickens it'll break your heart.

        1. re: Bada Bing

          And where are the giant thighs???

          1. re: Nanzi

            I think they're there. Chicken thighs have definitely gotten bigger as well. Not so on the drumsticks.

            Hmmm...spindly little legs?? ;-)

            1. re: jbsiegel

              Really? Spindy little legs? Recently an area store near the capital of Pennsylvania had a sale on chicken legs at 49¢/lb. min. of 10 lb. Even so, that 10 lb. bag of chicken legs was under $5 and look at how much chicken that was, and the size of those spindy little legs... OH... for those uneducated about it, use of hormone use in poultry is illegal in the United States.

        2. I used to portion them down, but finally got so grossed out by the thought of what hormones are going into them to get them so large, I stopped. But if you're eating them for budget reasons, it's not reasonable for you to turn around and buy free range, non hormone chickens either. I totally sympathize. They're quite gross to think about, and I also think they end up without flavor.

          3 Replies
          1. re: katecm

            Federal law prohibits the use of hormones in poultry.

            1. re: NotJuliaChild

              Most people don't realize this and continue to falsly purport that hormones are being injected in their poultry.

              1. re: JayL

                Every chicken in the USA can legally be labeled "all natural".

          2. I regularly cut them in half. I don't like chicken so it is all I can do to choke down half of one for dinner. I can't imagine anyone eating a whole one.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Njchicaa

              Why do you eat chicken at all if you don't like it?

            2. I had the same thought and used the buy the frozen chicken breasts from Costco. I switched to the frozen chicken tenderloins which are perfect size - 2 chicken tenderloins are perfect for me in my dinner dish. Of course that means I can't do stuffed chicken breast and have to modify my cooking times a bit, but it's worth it.

              Your voice may have been heard though! I saw a new offering at Costco (yes.. I'm addicted) a few weeks ago - smaller chicken breasts. It was called half chicken breasts or something like that, but was half the thickness of regular chicken breasts and sounded like a good idea! Maybe regular grocery stores will start selling that as well?

              6 Replies
              1. re: bobabear

                "half-chicken breasts" just sounds like costco is already cutting them up for you.

                these pamela anderson birds are from genetic engineering and generous amounts of antibiotics in the feed:

                Antibiotics have been used on poultry in large quantities since the 1940s, when it was found that the byproducts of antibiotic production, fed because the antibiotic-producing mold had a high level of vitamin B12 after the antibiotics were removed, produced higher growth than could be accounted for by the vitamin B12 alone. Eventually it was discovered that the trace amounts of antibiotics remaining in the byproducts accounted for this growth.

                americans prefer white meat. careful what you wish for.

                we prefer legs and thighs which don't seem to have gotten larger in proportion, so i am unsure that these birds are able to stand up well at all. the dark meat remains much cheaper too, thanks to all you breast buyers. :)

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Err... Careful what you say -- I am unaware of any genetic engineering going on in poultry these days. I am curious about the antibiotic and growth link, do you have a source for that?

                  1. re: mateo21

                    Probably not "genetic engineering" in the creepy splicing-weird-genes-into-the-mix sense, but definitely the product of deliberate breeding for disproportionately large breasts. Bleahhh.

                    1. re: benbenberi

                      Yes, I think so, too. The lifespan of a chicken being relatively short, several generations of changes can happen pretty fast.

                    2. re: mateo21

                      if the phrase "genetic engineering" makes you uncomfortable, call it "selective breeding", maybe. same difference. just like pedigree dog and cat breeders "select" for certain traits.

                      this happens with ALL food-producing animals.

                      links to articles about antibiotics and chicken growth.


                      in the "normal" life cycle of a chicken, it takes about 20 weeks to reach maturity. commercial birds are ready in 5-6 weeks.

                      1. re: mateo21

                        PBS recently did an interesting "Frontline" documentary on the subject. You can check it out here:


                        And here is a paragraph taken out of context:
                        "Some, including the FDA, believe the overuse of Baytril, an antibiotic used to treat sick birds, led to an increase in treatment-resistant bacterial infections in humans. Baytril is used by poultry growers to protect chickens and turkeys from E. coli infection. The size of commercial chicken flocks precludes testing and treating individual birds, so when a veterinarian diagnoses one infected bird, farmers treat the whole flock by adding the drug to its drinking water. General use of Baytril, therefore, falls in the gray area between therapeutic and sub-therapeutic."

                        I know for sure, based on agribusiness' practice of misleading and spin-doctoring any way they can in order to maximize their bottom line, that I would be stupid to believe much of what agribusiness SAYS about their food products' quality.

                        For example, consider Foster Farms chicken. Here is a link to their webpage. Read carefully what they say about their chicken:


                        Be sure to read their statement on probiotics. I copy and paste it here:

                        Foster Farms chickens are fed probiotics to naturally improve their ability to fight Salmonella."

                        And that practice also accomplishes the desired side effect of promoting growth through the use of antibiotics. Coincidence? Not in my book!

                        They also feed their chickens a "healthy" diet of soybean meal. Soybeans are one of the most plant estrogen rich foods on the planet. So much so that those plant estrogens are used to treat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms in human females! Estrogen (more specifically estradiol) is the HORMONE OF CHOICE used to promote rapid growth in commercially raised food animals. Another coincidence here? Fat chance!!!

                        It is ever more difficult to sustain a truly healthy diet, in the clinical sense of the word, by feeding your family with mass produced, mass marketed "grocery store" foods from American agribusiness suppliers. Sad, but true!

                  2. Suggestion: chicken salad