Are Chicken Wings White Or Dark Meat? An In-Depth Answer!

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Chicken wings are one of the most popular snacks and appetizers. While most people savor their deliciousness without pondering too much about their meat type, it’s an interesting culinary fact to know whether chicken wings belong to the category of white or dark meat.

Are Chicken Wings White Or Dark Meat?

Chicken wings are indeed a blend of both white and dark meat.

The drumette, resembling a miniature drumstick, is primarily composed of white meat like chicken breast. It’s leaner and has a milder flavor compared to dark meat like chicken thighs. Conversely, the flat or wingette, the larger part of the wing with two parallel bones, combines white and dark meat. Although it leans closer to white meat in composition, it retains slightly more connective tissue and flavor, reminiscent of dark meat.

  • Drumette: The drumette is easily recognizable as the smaller part of the chicken wing, resembling a tiny drumstick. It features a single bone running through the center. This section boasts a higher concentration of meat, making it a preferred choice for those seeking a meaty bite.
  • Flat (wingette): The flat, also called the wingette, constitutes the larger part of the chicken wing. It distinguishes itself with its unique “V” shape and contains two parallel bones. Unlike the drumette, the flat provides a larger surface area for meat.
  • Tip (flapper): The tip, known as the flapper, occupies the pointed and slender end of the chicken wing. It is thinner and contains minimal meat. Instead, the tip comprises skin, tendons, and cartilage. Due to their limited edible content, many cooking recipes recommend removing the tips before preparation.
the composition of chicken wings
Chicken wings

Are Chicken Wing Drumettes White Meat?

Chicken wing drumettes are generally considered white meat. White meat is leaner, milder in flavor, and has a lighter color compared to dark meat. Chicken wing drumettes include all these features:

  • Muscle type: White meat in poultry usually comes from muscles utilized for short bursts of activity, such as flying or brief movements of the wings. These muscles also have a low-fat content. The muscle groups in the drumette align with the characteristics of white meat due to their usage patterns. 
  • Leanness: White meat is known for its leanness, lower fat content, and fewer calories than dark meat. The drumette’s lean quality results from the muscle’s limited fat accumulation. This leanness contributes to the drumette’s relatively mild flavor and lighter texture. Thus, this part of chicken wings is pretty similar to breast meat.
  • Color: The term “white meat” derives from the pale color of the meat. This coloration is due to the lower presence of myoglobin, a protein responsible for the reddish hue in muscles used for sustained activities like standing or walking. The wing muscles, including those in drumettes, are not heavily engaged in continuous exertion, resulting in a lower myoglobin content and a whiter appearance.
are chicken wing drumettes white meat
Chicken wing drumettes

Are Chicken Wing Flats Dark Meat?

Chicken wing flats, often called flats or wingettes, are unique in that they encompass white and dark meat within a single piece. This classification arises from their specific anatomical location within the chicken wing and the distinct muscle groups they contain.

In particular, in the chicken wing flats, there are two different muscle groups:

  • Pectoralis major (white meat): This muscle is responsible for rapid, forceful wing motions and is characteristic of white meat. It contributes to the tenderness, mildness, and lighter color observed in the flat’s white meat portion.
  • Supracoracoideus (dark meat): The supracoracoideus muscle is considered dark meat and involves continuous flapping and gliding motions. Dark meat typically boasts a richer flavor profile and slightly denser texture, which are present in the dark meat section of the flat.

However, this part of chicken wings is considered dark meat by many people because its flavor and texture are more similar to chicken legs and thighs than the meat found in the breasts.

are chicken wing flats dark meat
Chicken wing flats


Why are chicken wings dark inside?

The darkening around the bones of chicken wings is a phenomenon primarily observed in young broiler-fryers. This occurs because their bones haven’t fully calcified, allowing pigment from the bone marrow to permeate the porous bones. This pigment transforms when you cook the chicken, resulting in a darkening effect.

Is white meat better than dark meat?

Both white and dark meat offer valuable nutritional benefits. White meat is notably lower in fat and calories compared to dark meat.

Are chicken wings good?

Chicken wings are a nutritious source of protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. However, traditional crispy chicken wings are usually deep-fried and coated in flour or starch. This preparation method increases calorie and fat content and introduces potentially unfavorable byproducts from the frying process. Thus, chicken wings are good if cooked properly.


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