Chicken breasts are the classic “healthy” meat, but if you’re looking to make a cheap and healthy meal, don’t sleep on chicken thighs. They’re one of the most affordable meats in the supermarket, especially if you buy them with the bones still in, and are nearly foolproof to cook. If you’re the kind of person who only ever buys breasts, let me attempt to win you over.
So why not eat chicken thighs next time you’re preparing a healthy meal? I can hear you all shout at me in unison: Because thighs are higher in fat and calories. This is true, but only just barely.
The difference is truly overrated. A boneless, skinless chicken breast is 142 calories, with 3 grams of fat and 27 grams of protein. A boneless, skinless chicken thigh has 206 calories, 10 grams of fat, and a very similar 28 grams of protein. That’s only a 64 calorie difference. Keep the skin on that thigh, and you’re looking at 239 calories in total (including one more gram of fat and four more grams of protein, by the way). That’s a difference of less than 100 calories between a savoury, skin-on delight, and a dry-arse chicken breast.
You can easily make room in your diet for that extra 100 calories. In fact, when your main dish is tastier, you have less need to add things like sauces for extra flavour.
What’s more, you don’t have to be literally starving yourself to be healthy. It is OK to give your body enough calories to live on. Have chicken thighs if you like them, and add vegetables, whole grains, and other healthy delicious items to your meal.
You can make chicken thighs into a fancy dinner entree. You can marinate them in yogurt and garlic salt. You can even cook a small portion in your Instant Pot, and you can learn the secret to browning all the sides of them. You might, dare I say, enjoy cooking and eating chicken if you had thighs more often. Give it a try.