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Before you start cooking, start with the right cuts of chicken.

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Choosing a Cut

BreastsIf you're looking for a convenient main dish, this is the go-to lean protein for any cook in the kitchen. A quicker-cooking option is Thin Sliced Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts.
WingsPacking lots of flavor, these are great for a snack or a meal. Breaded or unbreaded, they're great deep fried and coated in any sauce you can think up.
ThighAll dark meat here in the portion of the leg above the knee. Chicken thighs are easy to work with — you can grill 'em, bake 'em, or toss 'em in the slow cooker bone-in or boneless.
DrumsticksJuicy, simple to cook and simple to handle. Remove the skin and let a marinade really sink into the dark meat, or put them in the oven skin-on and let it crisp up. Great grilled or fried, too.
Leg QuartersYou get the dark meat from both the thigh and the drumstick in this cut. You can bake them in the oven or barbecue them on the grill.
Bone-InThis is classic comfort food, great for picking up with your hands and taking a bite. The bone gives the meat tons of great flavor, and it's well worth a little extra cooking time.
BonelessIf time's limited, you can make lots of delicious dishes in 30 minutes or less using boneless chicken. It makes for easy prep — just cut it into cubes or strips, find a good stir-fry or pasta recipe, and you're all set.

White and Dark Meat

Dark meat or white meat? Pretty much everyone has a favorite, and each has its pros and cons.

White meat (breasts), is lean and high in protein. But it can become a little dry if not cooked carefully and bland without enough seasoning.

Dark meat (thighs and drumsticks), is more moist and flavorful. It has a little more fat than white meat (but still less than pork or beef).

What about wings? While technically white meat, they also tend to contain some dark meat qualities. That might be why so many people love 'em.


Whole Birds

A whole chicken is perfect if you're cooking for multiple people, and it's not as difficult to make as you might think. A skin-on, bone-in bird provides tons of flavor, and being able to serve dark and white meat means everyone's tastes are covered. Plus, you get to brush up on your carving skills. Depending on how many people you're serving, pick up one of the following (plan 1 to 2 servings per pound):

Family Roaster: 5.5 pounds or greater (includes neck and giblets)

Young Chicken: 2 pounds or greater (packaged with or without neck and giblets)

Cornish Game Hen: Up to 2 pounds

Real Tip: Cornish game hens are great for grilling.