About how much does a chicken breast weigh? The answer depends on the size of the chicken it came from—and whether you’re buying a bone-in or boneless breast. Our guide to average chicken breast weight should prove useful when you’re planning your menu.
Average Chicken Breast Weight
On average, a whole bone-in skin-on chicken breast half will weigh about 10 ounces to 1 pound. A boneless and skinless chicken breast half, meanwhile, usually weighs somewhere between 3 and 8 ounces. The total weight will decrease by an ounce or two as the chicken cooks.
About Chicken Breast
This cut, which is taken from the pectoral muscle of the chicken, is one of the leanest portions you’ll find on the bird.
A whole chicken has one single breast, which can be divided into two halves. These are usually separated when the bird is butchered, so the classification is somewhat confusing.
When you buy a “single” chicken breast, you’re usually getting half of one breast. A whole chicken breast will be larger, with the breastbone serving as a divider between the two halves.
Boneless chicken breast is quite popular, thanks to its versatility and lean nature. These qualities also combine to make it a relatively expensive cut—at least compared to thighs, drumsticks, and wings.
Because it’s lean meat that contains B and D vitamins as well as calcium, zinc, and iron, chicken breast is considered a healthy protein source. The boneless and skinless variety is also low in calories, which is another plus.
Grilling is an excellent preparation technique for chicken breast, but it can be prepared in numerous other ways as well. Baking, roasting, and frying are just a few of the tantalizing options you’ll have when you buy this cut.
What’s The Best Internal Temperature For Chicken Breast?
This is the tricky part. Chicken breast needs to cook to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be safe to consume. That’s the temperature at which hazardous bacteria are killed off almost instantly.
Here’s the problem, though: The meat is so lean that it will dry out if you cook it too far past 165 degrees. Once that happens, there’s no way to save it. You can attempt to hide the texture by using a sauce or gravy, but that’s no substitute for properly cooked meat.
For optimum results, take the chicken off the heat when it achieves an internal temperature of 160 degrees. That way, the residual heat will ensure that it reaches the correct temperature without becoming too dry.
Average Chicken Breast Weight
As we mentioned, boneless skinless chicken breast is a popular option. These specimens will typically weigh between 3 and 8 ounces. Most should fall into the 5- to 6-ounce range.
If the breast is sold boneless with the skin on, the weight will be slightly higher. Expect a skin-on boneless breast to weigh 7 to 10 ounces.
The next-heaviest specimens are the skinless bone-in breasts. The bone contributes flavor to the meat, but as you might expect, it also makes the cut that much heavier. These chicken breasts weigh about 10 to 15 ounces on average.
If you’ve purchased a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast half, it could weigh up to a full pound. A full breast, consisting of both halves, may weigh between 1-1/2 and 2 pounds.
You can expect the total weight to decrease by about 1 to 2 ounces when the meat is cooked. Unlike fatty cuts such as beef brisket—which can lose up to 50 percent of their weight during cooking—chicken breast is very lean, so it doesn’t shrink down as much.
That said, the shrinkage factor will be more of an issue if the chicken breast still has the skin on it. The skin contains a lot of fat, which will render out as the meat cooks. That’s what gives the skin its luscious, crispy texture.
How Much Does a Whole Chicken Weigh?
Now that we’ve covered the average chicken breast weight, you might be wondering how much the bird itself weighs. After all, the weight of the breast is directly related to the weight of the entire chicken.
Ever since farmers began breeding chickens and turkeys for commercial sale, their average weight has seen a steady uptick. Birds that are allowed to mature naturally in the wild won’t grow as large as commercially raised specimens.
As recently as 2020, the average weight of a whole chicken fell in the 5- to 10-pound range. The size is affected by the age, breed, and gender of the chicken in question.
Bear in mind that this is the average weight of the chicken before it’s butchered and processed for sale. The ones you find on the shelf at the supermarket are bound to weigh slightly less—probably 3 to 8 pounds.
White Meat vs. Dark Meat
You probably already know that chicken contains both white and dark meat. But did you know what distinguishes one from the other, aside from the color and the texture?
Myoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to the muscles, is what gives meat its reddish hue. The higher the myoglobin levels are, the darker the meat will be.
On chickens and turkeys, the dark meat can be found in the thighs and drumsticks. That’s because these muscles get more of a workout during the chicken’s lifetime, so they require more oxygen.
By contrast, the breast doesn’t get much to do while the chicken is alive. This lack of exercise contributes to its lean texture and lighter color.
What about the wings? They don’t get much exercise either, which is why they’re technically classified as white meat (at least on chickens). But you’re bound to notice a difference in the flavor and texture of the wings versus the breast.
In terms of nutritional value, there’s something to be said for both white and dark meat. White meat, as we’ve mentioned, is leaner, especially when the bone and skin have been removed. Therefore, it’s a better choice if you’re trying to cut back on fat.
On the other hand, dark meat contains more iron and zinc, thanks to the increased oxygenation of the thigh and leg muscles. As a bonus, it’s also much juicier. So if you want your chicken to have a higher mineral content, then dark meat is a good option.
How To Handle Raw Chicken
It’s always important to take care when handling raw meat, and chicken is no exception.
Wash your hands with antibacterial soap immediately before and after handling raw poultry. Also, be sure to wash any utensils and surfaces that have come into contact with the meat.
When grilling, use clean plates and utensils to handle the cooked chicken. Don’t re-use the same ones you used when the meat was raw, unless you’ve had a chance to wash them in between.
How Long Does it Take To Grill Chicken Breasts?
Since the total cooking time depends on what type of chicken breast you’re working with, we’ve divided this section into two subcategories.
Boneless and skinless chicken breasts are easy to find, as are bone-in skin-on specimens. The ones that have bones but no skin or vice versa, meanwhile, aren’t as prevalent. For the sake of brevity, we’ve included just the first two here.
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
It takes about 10 minutes total to grill an average-sized boneless and skinless chicken breast. Because the process is so fast, this cut makes an excellent weeknight meal.
Set the grill to medium, or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While you’re waiting for it to be ready, trim any excess fat from the chicken breasts, if necessary. Season the meat as desired, and prepare the grill by coating the cooking grates with a neutral oil.
When the grill has reached the correct temperature, grill the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until they’ve achieved an internal temperature of 160 degrees. If you’d like, add a sauce or a glaze during the last couple of minutes of cooking.
Remove the chicken from the heat and set it on a platter, loosely tented with foil. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Bone-In Skin-On Chicken Breasts
The grilling process takes roughly twice as long when you’re dealing with bone-in chicken breasts. Depending on the size of the breasts, it may take even longer. But you’ll be rewarded with meat that’s bursting with flavor and savory juices.
You’ll want to start the grill at medium, or around 375 degrees Fahrenheit, to avoid burning the exterior. Once the chicken has approached the target temperature, you can increase the heat if you need to crisp up the skin.
Trim and season the chicken breasts as desired. When the grill is hot enough, oil the cooking grates, then add the chicken with the skin side facing down.
Close the lid of the grill and cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes. Flip the breasts using a pair of sturdy tongs, then close the lid and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked to 160 degrees.
If desired, increase the heat to high and sear the chicken until the skin has achieved a nice crisp texture. This should only take a few minutes. When the meat is done, remove it to a platter and tent it with foil to rest for about 10 minutes.
The Bottom Line
Boneless and skinless chicken breasts are popular for many reasons, but one of the best things about them is their diminutive size. Once cooked, a boneless and skinless chicken breast half is often the ideal size for a single portion.
If you opt for bone-in breasts, you’ll have more meat—and therefore more options. Try using the leftovers as filling for a baked potato or a topping for a salad. The possibilities are endless.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!