Is it weird to wonder what rib meat in chicken is? Or how is it used?
At first, you might think it is. After all, rib meat from chicken would often indicate it’s meat from a chicken’s ribs, right? Well, not exactly. It’s not as glaringly inaccurate compared to a Boston Butt, which is a portion of pork shoulder and not, you know, the rear end of a pig.
That being said, it’s not as easy as saying chicken rib meat comes strictly from a chicken’s ribs.
In actuality, rib meat in chicken refers to the meat along the ribcage of a chicken. In this case, meat along the rib cage can include pieces from the chicken’s breast as well as sections from the chicken’s shoulder and back.
It kind of depends on how the chicken is butchered and how the meat is cut and sold. Like most chicken meat, rib meat is used in a variety of dishes, ranging from soups and casseroles to chicken nuggets.
Now that you have a broad sense of what rib meat in chicken is and how it’s used, let’s dive into some finer details that will tell us more about a chicken’s rib meat, how it’s used, and why it includes other sections of the chicken outside of the ribs by themselves.
Chicken Rib Meat is More than Just Rib Meat
The thing to remember when it comes to chicken is that once butchered, there are only so many sections with thick chunks of meat on them. Traditionally, these are the breasts, thighs, and legs. The wings are next in line, but the drums aren’t exactly packing on the pounds when it comes to meat.
After those, you have sections that may or may not be carved out and served on their own. Those include the breast tenderloins, portions of the back, and organs such as gizzards and the heart.
The breast is the meatiest section and offers the broadest type of cuts. These types include boneless, with the ribs, and with or without the tenderloin. Where rib meat usually comes into play is when the breast is cut to be boneless.
The ribs themselves, without the breast, don’t have much meat on them. Some leftover rib portions may also have pieces from the breast, depending on how good the butchering was. Still, not a lot of meat.
However, there’s some healthy, tender meat on the ribs, back, and shoulder that could be overlooked if it weren’t used in a ton of products. These are often combined to make “rib” meat.
What is Chicken Rib Meat Used For?
If you strip the meat from the ribs and combine it with whatever’s left from the breast, shoulder, and back, you’ll end up with a fair amount of “rib” meat to use in other products such as ground chicken, premade chicken products, chicken soup, or canned chicken, to name a few.
The bottom line is that rib meat is a tasty and affordable option for many chicken-based products, making it a popular ingredient for food companies and consumers.
If you’re interested in using chicken rib meat for your own dishes, the easiest way to get it is either to buy chicken breasts with the rib portions included or to buy a whole chicken. Not a whole live chicken, mind you. But whole chickens at the store, either frozen, fresh, or cooked like rotisserie chickens.
When you cut them up, remember to set aside the rib, shoulder, and back meat to enjoy separately or in a homemade soup or casserole.
Is Chicken Rib Meat Considered White Meat?
In poultry products like chicken, white meat is a leaner cut of meat compared to dark meat. It also, due to its lower fat content, tends to dry out if overcooked. Chicken breasts and wings are the primary areas you’ll find white meat on a chicken.
Dark meat, on the other hand, has a higher fat content and can be found in the thighs and legs. It’s also moister, more tender, and will not dry out while cooking like white meat can.
Because chicken rib meat is found near the breast, it’s also considered white meat. That being said, rib meat, shoulder meat, and back meat are not quite as lean. This means they’re more tender and are less likely to dry out than breast meat.
Are Chicken Nuggets Made with Rib Meat? Chicken Tenders?
The short answer is, “They could be.”
What chicken nuggets and chicken tenders are made from comes down to affordability, flavor, and marketing. The cheaper the chicken nugget, the more likely they are to be made from more chicken rib meat.
It doesn’t mean the meat comes from poor-quality chickens or anything. It’s just the area of the chicken that makes them more affordable.
Companies that sell higher-priced chicken nuggets tend to market them as being made from chicken breast meat. Which they usually are. However, remember cuts of chicken breasts can include portions of the ribs.
So, chicken nuggets made from chicken breasts probably also have chicken rib meat in them as well. The key difference is the majority of the meat comes from the breast.
Chicken tenders are often made from the chicken tenderloin portion. These products are also called chicken fingers because, well, they’re shaped like fingers. Although chicken tenders are primarily made from the tenderloin, they can also include rib meat in their ingredients.
Why are Chicken Breasts with Ribs Cheaper than Boneless?
The simple answer is that the less processing that needs to be done, the more affordable the cut of chicken.
Can You Buy Chicken Ribs Like Pork Ribs?
Not usually. However, some companies market BBQ chicken ribs. They’re just a special thigh cut meant to be eaten like BBQ ribs, though.