Dark Meat vs White Meat | What is Myoglobin?

Dark Meat vs White Meat

Dark meat vs white meat? I can remember as a kid hearing these words tossed around while standing in line at KFC. I had no idea what it meant then, only that it somehow affected how many drumsticks – my personal favorite – ended up in the bucket. At some point I figured out that white meat referred to the oft-overcooked chicken breast and wings and the moist, juicy legs and thighs were the dark meat. And here’s why…

Dark Meat vs White Meat

Dark meat’s darker in color because of a protein called myoglobin. Myoglobin supplies oxygen to the chicken’s muscles, so the more the muscles used, the more myoglobin in the muscle. Chickens don’t fly so the breast and wing aren’t put to much use, requiring very little myoglobin. The thigh and leg muscles are worked frequently, (all that running around like a chicken with its head…well, you get the picture) requiring more myoglobin. The additional protein gives dark meat its richer taste and texture, which makes it my favorite to cook with. It’s super tender and juicy and is extremely difficult – though not impossible – to overcook.

Now that you’ve got it figured out, you can cook up one of these chicken dishes!

Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken

Lemon Parmesan Chicken

Lemon Parmesan Chicken

Orange Tarragon Chicken Salad

Orange Tarragon Chicken Salad

Here are a few of the tips, tools and techniques you’ll need to make all my chicken faves!


Don’t rinse raw chicken. Odds are you’ll end up spreading any bacteria present around your kitchen instead of getting rid of it.

Cook chicken to its safe temperature of 165F to kill any bacteria present.


Meat Thermometer

Roasting Pan

Chef’s Knife


How to Grill Chicken Breasts



Dark Meat vs White Meat

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