We Compared the Prices for Whole Chickens and Individual Pieces — Here's What We Found

We Compared the Prices for Whole Chickens and Individual Pieces — Here's What We Found

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Kelli Foster
Apr 20, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you're a frequent purchaser of chicken, then you already know firsthand that the price of this lean meat can really run the gamut, from budget-friendly to more spendy.

Pound for pound, whole chicken is often touted as being the most economical option. Is that really the case, though? We compared the national average prices of whole chickens and packages of individual parts to find out.

Weighing the Price of a Whole Chicken

Presumably, whole chickens give us a lot for our money and the most bang for our buck. We're getting two breasts and wings, two legs (which include the thighs and drumstick), along with the bones, skin, and innards. The meat and skin are totally edible, plus the bones can be cooked into stock or bone broth.

According to the USDA, whole chicken currently averages $1.28 per pound nationwide, which is considerably less expensive than boneless individual pieces, like thighs and breasts. The price is low because you're not paying for someone to take the time to butcher it. However, the whole chicken actually gives you a lower percentage of edible meat (only 65 to 70 percent) than other bone-in cuts like leg quarters, thighs, and breasts.

(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

A Less Expensive Chicken Choice

While boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts currently top the list as the most expensive individual cut, the leg quarters (the drumstick with the bone-in thigh attached) are hands-down the cheapest, currently averaging at just $1.07 per pound. Not only are the legs the least expensive cut of chicken, but they also give you the most meat for your money (70 to 75 percent of whole chicken legs are edible, making them a better value than other bone-in and even boneless pieces).

A Current Ranking of Average National Chicken Prices

  • Boneless, skinless thigh: $2.48 per pound
  • Boneless breast: $2.37 per pound
  • Bone-in breast: $1.65 per pound
  • Bone-in thigh: $1.36 per pound
  • Drumstick: $1.28 per pound
  • Whole chicken: $1.28 per pound
  • Leg quarter: $1.07 per pound

Do you have a go-to type of chicken when you're trying to save money?

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