Ground Turkey vs. Ground Chicken: Popular Uses, Health Benefits, and Major Differences

Minced chicken or turkey meat on wooden board with basil and spices, selective focus

Ground Turkey vs. Ground Chicken: Popular Uses, Health Benefits, and Major Differences

Considering your options between ground turkey vs. ground chicken? You may be wondering why you’d have to choose one over the other. While these ground poultry varieties may seem interchangeable and can be in certain recipes, they have some differences that are worth noting. In terms of nutrition, turkey meat can be overall the leaner choice of the two. It packs a higher iron and lower sodium content. Chicken has a slightly stronger flavor and more cholesterol to its name. Those are a few of the biggest differences. Now, let's get into the finer details in the discussion of ground turkey vs. ground chicken.

In this post, we’ll discuss the health benefits of both types of ground meat. You’ll learn a few recipe ideas and popular uses for ground turkey vs. ground chicken. Keep on reading to learn some of the history of why meat is ground up in the first place! By the end of this, you’ll know which to ask for. Whether you're at the butcher or your local grocery store, you'll be more prepared. Here we go and happy cooking! 

Ground Turkey vs. Ground Chicken: What Is The Difference?

Firstly, ground turkey and ground chicken come from two different types of poultry, also known as domesticated landfowl. Ground turkey is typically the leaner of the two types of meat. Certain cuts of ground turkey clock lower than chicken in terms of fat, and sodium content. There are even cuts of 99% fat-free ground turkey (via Healthline). Of the two types of meat, ground turkey has a milder taste. It can be a crumblier meat to work with than chicken. Chicken, on the other hand, also runs the risk of drying out if cooked incorrectly. But with the right ingredients, you can make delicious ground chicken dinners!

What is Ground Turkey?

Ground turkey comes from grinding up the leaner parts of turkey meat. These go into the grinder along with skin and fat from the butchering process. There are a lot of varieties of ground turkey meat, so here's a breakdown of the types. Some grocers or butchers will sell dark ground turkey meat or white ground turkey meat. This refers to the cut of meat included in the ground mixture. 93/7 ground turkey meat refers to the meat being 93% lean and 7% fat. The same ratio goes for 90/10, 85/15, 98/2, and 99/1 ground turkey meat (via National Turkey Federation). Whatever type of ground turkey you end up choosing, turkey is a mild meat. It takes on seasoning well and can become dry in the cooking process if not watchfully tended to. Ground turkey is popular in recipes like meatloaf, meatballs, casseroles, and even in tacos!

History And Origin of Ground Turkey

According to The Chicago Tribune, ground turkey was first introduced to supermarket deli fridges in the 1970s. Ground meat is a combination of excess turkey meat and leftover skin. Therefore, ground meat was a great way to effectively use all the meat from the bird. This way, grocers could sell the extra meat a form that could be easily turned into other delicious things. It hit peak popularity in the 1990s, partly because it was leaner than beef or chicken in ground form. Since then, ground turkey has continued to be a staple of the cold meat aisle in lots of grocery stores around the world.

Uses For Ground Turkey

The great thing about ground turkey is that they are so many ways to use it in delicious recipes. Try out meatballs, meatloaf, casseroles, and more. You can make seasoned ground turkey for fillings, and sandwiches, or you can use it in chili. Check out some of these great recipes for ground turkey:

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Turkey Chili

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


  • Author: Moms Who Think



1 pound ground turkey
½ pound ground beef
30 oz. tomato sauce
24 oz. tomato-vegetable juice
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 small jalapeno pepper chopped (optional)
14 oz. stewed tomatoes
½ cup uncooked wild rice
⅔ cup brown sugar
14 oz. chili beans
1 oz. chili seasoning mix


1. Brown ground turkey and ground beef. Drain well.

2. Place all other ingredients in a slow cooker and add the meat.

3. Cook on low for 6 to 9 hours. Serve with crackers or cornbread.

What is Ground Chicken?

Ground chicken, like ground turkey, comes from the extra meat of the chicken, ground up and ready for molding. Because ground meat is inherently leaner than its full-fat, whole-meat counterpart, it can be easy to overcook because there already isn't much moisture to it. Ground chicken is high in protein, good for seasoning, and can be easy to cook if you know how to work with it.

History and Origin Of Ground Chicken

Similar to the origins of ground turkey, ground chicken likely came into existence as a way of using all parts of the chicken. This would've been beneficial during periods of food insecurity in the States, as chicken was often marketed as an affordable meat product. These animals have been around for thousands of years. You can cook chicken in numerous ways and they are also one of the most bred animals for their meat, and their eggs (via The Smithsonian). It's no wonder ground chicken is so popular!

How To Use Ground Chicken

Bon Appétit offers a few helpful tips when working with ground chicken. The first is to include some kind of fat, you can put it directly into the mixture as you sauté or cook the seasoned ground chicken. Or, you can add items like full-fat yogurt, or bacon fat to the meatball mixture. The other recommendation is not to skimp on the seasoning. Popular dishes that use ground chicken include meatballs and casseroles, chilis, chicken burgers, as a filling or topping – try it on pizza. Check out some of these great recipes for ground chicken:

Nutritional Value

Keep in mind that there are different combinations of ground turkey and ground chicken that will have different nutritional values depending on the fat, skin, and what cuts of meat go into the mixture. 113 grams of ground turkey contains about 292 calories, 20 grams of total fat, 120 milligrams of cholesterol, 96 milligrams of sodium, and 28 grams of protein. It has beneficial amounts of vitamin D, as well as iron, calcium, and potassium. 113 grams of ground chicken clock in at 214.8 calories, 20 grams of total fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 96 milligrams of sodium, and 26.7 grams of protein. It also contains calcium, iron, and potassium (via Nutritionix).

Are Ground Turkey And Ground Chicken The Same Thing?

In short, no, ground turkey and ground chicken are not the same thing. However, they are quite similar in ground-up form, with only slightly varying nutritional profiles. They could be swapped out in lots of easy recipes, although they are definitely different meats.

Possible Alternatives To Ground Turkey or Ground Chicken

If ground turkey and ground chicken aren't speaking to you, try out other types of ground meat. There's beef, lamb, pork, and veal. Most of these will cook similarly, but be warned that the taste might be different for darker meats like beef and veal.

For a non-meat alternative, check out the Beyond Meat offerings for hamburgers. Firm tofu, seitan, and tempeh can all be sufficient swaps in certain ground meat recipes. There are also some great vegetable substitutes for certain ground meat recipes. Try out lentils in your casserole to give it flavor and substance. Cauliflower taco filling is a great alternative to ground meat and can be seasoned accordingly. Mushrooms make a great substitute in meatloaf, and they're packed with vitamin D. Bulgar Wheat is a filling and hearty substitute in stews. And, of course, eggplant, is a great alternative for meat filings (via Tasting Table). Pile on the veggies, add some seasoning and you've got your ground meat alternative meal, ready to serve!

A Quick Comparison of Ground Turkey vs. Ground Chicken

Infographic comparing ground turkey and ground chicken.
Both of these ground meat options are great for those watching their fat intake.

If you're looking to eat healthier, considering both ground turkey and ground chicken is worthwhile. Ground turkey is arguably the better choice for a diet, since you can get extremely lean packages of ground turkey. It's worth remembering that ground turkey has a milder taste than ground chicken, so seasoning it appropriately is very important. Ground turkey can be crumbly and a bit tough to work with, so exercise patience and give yourself extra time as you get used to working with it. Ground chicken, on the other hand, can dry out pretty easily if you aren't careful. Both of these meats can make excellent substitutions for ground beef, which is often much higher in fat.

To top