Think Chicken Skin Is Unhealthy? Turns Out You’ve Got It All Wrong

Is chicken skin healthy? Turns out it's not as bad for you as you think.

Baking sheet of chicken thighs, veggies and diced potatoesPhoto: Taste of Home
Photo: Taste of Home

If you’ve been avoiding eating crunchy, crispy chicken skin because you think it’s unhealthy, here’s good news. There’s no need to steer clear of it. Leaving the skin on your chicken adds only 30 to 50 calories per serving and it packs a whole lot of juicy flavor, plus that irresistible crackle. And the little bit of added fat is mostly unsaturated—the good kind.

According to the National Chicken Council, a 3 1/2-ounce serving of cooked chicken breast with skin on and bone in contains only 34 calories more than its skinless, boneless counterpart. Even if you’re really hungry and you double that serving size to a 7-ounce portion, you only save 68 calories by stripping the skin. Plus, if you leave the tasty skin on, there’s no need to add a calorie-laden sauce or salt-heavy coating.

“Here’s the thing about chicken skin: Sure, it adds a little more fat and calories, but if you ask me, it’s a pretty good deal for the amount of flavor you get by leaving it on (plus it’s generally cheaper),” says Heather Ray, nutrition expert and registered dietitian based in Des Moines. “That said, I would lean toward baked, roasted or grilled chicken, and only reach for the fried stuff if Grandma made her secret recipe. Because as much as we’re sick of hearing it, moderation is key to good health.”

For a fab one-pan crispy-skin chicken dinner, check out this Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetable recipe. Or when you’re in the mood for a no-watch weekday or special Sunday supper, give this Slow-Cooker Roast Chicken a shot.

But if you’re not convinced, and you’re in a hurry, you might want to stick with skinless chicken breasts and try these quick recipes ready in 30 minutes.

Otherwise, feel free to indulge in skin-on chicken without feeling guilty. It’s not so bad for you after all.