When looking for healthy protein options for your family, turkey and chicken are both great choices, but they do differ. Chicken is smaller and lighter, and has more calories, fat, and cholesterol than turkey. Turkey, on the other hand, is darker and, typically, juicier than chicken. Let’s take a deeper look into turkey vs. chicken and find out how to best utilize what both of these options offer.

 a chicken sunset
Turkey and chicken offer a similar protein option but they are very different-looking birds! Chickens are commonly white, light brown, or black. Turkeys are commonly dark brown or black and can have iridescent feathers. Turkeys do not have feathers on their head, this is an easy way to tell the difference between a turkey and a chicken.


Turkey vs. Chicken: What is the Difference?

Turkey is larger and heavier but it is a leaner meat that has significantly fewer calories, fat, and cholesterol than chicken. Roasted turkey is especially popular during Thanksgiving and Christmas, whereas chicken is used frequently throughout the year.

Different cuts of chicken displayed on cutting boards
Turkey and chicken have some differences that are important to know based on what you are trying to accomplish with your meal.

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Turkey vs. Chicken: Nutritional Facts

Turkey is a leaner meat and is often used as a healthier substitute for chicken for anyone who is really keeping an eye on calories, fat, and cholesterol. Here is a turkey vs. chicken nutritional comparison chart to learn more:

Turkey vs. Chicken nutritional information

Turkey vs. Chicken: Taste

Turkey and chicken are two different birds so although they are similar they do taste different. Turkey has a richer and darker taste than chicken and it is also usually juicier which many people love. Turkey can also sometimes be described as gamier than chicken. If looking for a protein that is neutral to go with anything, many opt for chicken. 

Closeup of a raw chicken and stuffing in a pot. Closeup of fresh catnip leaves growing—Closeup of the center of clematis flower petals. Two thistle plants grow in the garden.
Turkey and chicken can be prepared and cooked similarly. They both have dark meat and light meat which offer different flavors. Chicken is often baked or grilled, whereas turkey is most commonly baked.


Turkey vs. Chicken: Preparation

Because turkey and chicken are a similar bird they can be prepared very similarly. Turkeys are usually significantly larger than chickens so you would use a bigger pan, more seasonings, brine it for a longer period of time, and roast it longer than you would a chicken.

For both birds, after preparing it you can easily throw it in the oven and keep an eye as it starts to become golden. The safe cooking temperature for all poultry is 165 ºF. After roasting your bird, it is important to allow it rest time. This allows the turkey or chicken time to remain at the temperature or continue to rise for a few minutes to destroy any harmful bacteria.

Turkey in Michigan forest, Michigan wildlife
Turkeys are native to North America and are raised on farms for meat but can also be found in the wild.


Turkey vs. Chicken: Origin

Turkeys were domesticated around 2,000 years ago in Southern Mexico. The primary ancestor of the turkey is the wild turkey and it’s believed the Mayans were the first to domesticate this animal. The domesticated birds were taken to Europe by Spanish explorers and before long they were in farm yards all over the world.

Chickens were domesticated around 7,000-10,000 in Southeast Asia. The primary ancestor of the chicken is the Southeast Asian Red Junglefowl. The distribution of chickens happened very quickly as they not only provided meat but also produces eggs. It is also believed that they had a quick widespread because of the Cockfighting sport.

Our Favorite Turkey Recipes

Our Favorite Chicken Recipes

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