Turkey vs. Chicken: Which is Better?

Turkey breast (white meat, no skin)Chicken breast  (white meat, no skin)
Iron0.7 mg (4% DV)0.45mg (2% DV)
Sodium99 mg (4% DV)360mg (26% DV)
Zinc1.7 mg (16% DV)0.9 mg (8% DV)
Magnesium32 mg (8% DV)28 mg (7% DV)
Phosphorus230 mg (18% DV)229 mg (18% DV)
Potassium249 mg (10% DV)359 mg (14% DV)
Copper0.063 mg (7% DV)0.047 mg (5% DV)
Selenium30.2 mcg (55% DV)30.6 mcg (55% DV)
Turkey breast  (white meat, no skin)Chicken breast (white meat, no skin)Turkey (dark, meat, no skin)Chicken (dark meat, no skin)
Calories147 calories161 calories173 calories178 calories
Protein30 g30 g27.7 g23.2 g
Total Fat2.1 g3.5 g6 g8.7 g
Saturated Fat0.6 g0.75 g1.8 g2.4 g
Sodium99 mg (4% DV)360mg (26% DV)104 mg (4% DV)95 mg (4% DV)
Niacin11.8 mg (74% DV)10.3 mg (63% DV)7 mg (44% DV)6 mg (38% DV)
Vitamin B60.8 mg (62% DV)0.87 mg (67% DV)0.44mg (34% DV)0.3 mg (23 % DV)
Zinc1.7 mg (16% DV)0.9 mg (8% DV)3.5 mg (32 % DV)2.1mg (19% DV)
Cholesterol80 mg (27%)98 mg (33% DV)128 mg (42% DV)75 mg (25% DV)

Turkey vs. Chicken: Overview

Chicken and turkey are both poultry meats that provide a healthy protein source

Protein is a crucial part of your diet. Protein is within every aspect of your body - muscles, skin, hair, cells, and enzymes. Protein helps your body to heal and build new tissues or cells.1 

Eating appropriate protein amounts is essential to life.1 

This article dives into the main differences and similarities between turkey and chicken and explains their nutritional facts and benefits.

Both chicken and turkey provide healthy protein. Generally, chicken tends to be higher in vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid, and turkey tends to be lower in calories, fat, and sodium while having more zinc, niacin, and vitamin B12.

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Key Insights on Poultry Consumption

Over the past twenty years, poultry has become the world’s most consumed animal protein source. Poultry meat includes chicken, turkey, duck, and geese. Chicken and turkey make up the largest portion of poultry consumption globally and in the United States.2 

Global poultry imports reached 14.2 million metric tons in 2021 and are expected to grow to 17.5 million by 2031. Pork and beef are increasing steadily but still lower than poultry.2 

In the United States, the USDA reports that the average adult ate 96.8 pounds of chicken in 2021. Americans eat chicken almost double that of beef and pork.3 

Americans eat less turkey than chicken at about 15.3 pounds per person in 2021. Interestingly, turkey consumption has doubled since 1970 as more people use ground turkey instead of ground beef.4 

Poultry consumption has increased for various reasons – it is more affordable than beef, has a quicker growing time than other animals, and has some nutritional positives. 

Turkey Cuts vs. Chicken Cuts

Since turkey and chicken are both birds, they have similar cuts of meat.  Most people describe chicken or turkey cuts as dark or white meat. 

The amount of myoglobin characterizes whether it is white or dark meat. More myoglobin is needed in muscles that do a lot of work.5 

Walking is the main work for chickens and turkeys; they fly less than other poultry. This makes the breast meat lighter in color due to less myoglobin, and the legs are darker since they have more myoglobin.5 

This table details the nutrition differences and similarities in 3.5 ounces (100 gm) of different cuts of meat.

Turkey breast (white meat, no skin)6

Chicken breast (white meat, no skin)7

Calories 147 calories 161 calories
Protein 30 g 30 g
Total Fat 2.1 g 3.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g 0.75 g
Iron 0.7 mg (4% DV) 0.45mg (2% DV)
Sodium 99 mg (4% DV) 360mg (26% DV)
Niacin 11.8 mg (74% DV) 10.3 mg (63% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.8 mg (62% DV) 0.87 mg (67% DV)
Zinc 1.7 mg (16% DV) 0.9 mg (8% DV)
Cholesterol 80 mg (27%) 98 mg (33% DV)

Turkey (dark meat, no skin)8 Chicken (dark meat, no skin)9
Calories 173 calories 178 calories
Protein 27.7 g 23.2 g
Total Fat 6 g 8.7 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g 2.4 g
Iron 1.4 mg (8 % DV) 1.3 mg (8% DV)
Sodium 104 mg (4% DV) 95 mg (4% DV)
Niacin 7 mg (44% DV) 6 mg (38% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.44mg (34% DV) 0.3 mg (23 % DV)
Zinc 3.5 mg (32 % DV) 2.1mg (19% DV)
Cholesterol 128 mg (42% DV) 75 mg (25% DV)

Protein is comparable among white meat cuts at 30 g in a 3.5-ounce serving. Protein content is slightly lower in the dark meat cuts, while fat content is higher. Calories and fat are lower in the turkey meat than the chicken cuts, which often gives a drier texture to the turkey.

Overall, both chicken and poultry provide similar nutrients in slightly different amounts. 

Turkey Broth vs. Chicken Broth

Bone broth (or stock) and broth are liquid bases for many recipes. 

The key word to distinguish between the two is “bone.” Bone broth or stock is made by combining the animal bones, meat left on the bones, and the connective tissue and simmering it in water for many hours. Bone broth or stock is heartier and can be used alone or with other components to make a meal. 

The broth combines the meat (no bones), spices, and vegetables and simmer for fewer hours than a bone broth or stock. They are generally lighter and provide a liquid to mix your ingredients in. 

Turkey broth uses turkey meat, whereas chicken broth uses chicken meat. The resulting flavor relies on the meat used. 

You would use chicken or turkey bones to make a bone broth or stock. Again, the flavor reflects turkey or chicken, depending on the bones used. 

Turkey vs. Chicken Cost

The price difference and availability influence why people choose chicken over turkey. Turkey is more seasonal and available in November and December, whereas chicken is available year-round in all grocery stores. 

Boneless chicken breast costs about $4.18 per pound9, whereas boneless turkey breast is around $6.49 per pound10. Boneless turkey breast is harder to find unless you buy a whole turkey or use a butcher shop.

Buying a whole turkey is more affordable. But now you have 15 to 30 pounds of turkey to eat! Chickens are smaller birds and provide about 5 pounds of meat. It is more practical for most people to purchase chickens due to their size and availability. Their cost is a less critical factor. 

Which is Better: Turkey or Chicken Broth?

One cup of commercial turkey broth provides:11

  • 19 calories
  • 5 g of protein
  • 2% DV of iron 
  • 4% DV of sodium

One cup of commercial chicken broth provides the following:12 

  • 10 calories
  • 1 g of protein
  • 2% DV of iron 
  • 24% DV of sodium

Chicken broth is slightly lower in calories and contains more sodium, whereas turkey broth is higher in protein. 

Since the nutritional components are similar, flavor preference is the main deciding factor between chicken or turkey broths. 

If you were trying to increase protein intake, turkey broth would be a better choice. Sodium content is higher in chicken broth; you could choose a lower salt version of chicken broth or use turkey broth. 

Limited research exists on broth and humans. Preliminary research shows that components found in bone broth can support digestive health by reducing cell damage, enhancing the immune response, and providing small amounts of easily digestible nutrients.13,14,15

Hot drinks and soups relieve nasal congestion and reduce mucous production.16 These unpleasant side effects of illness can be alleviated by drinking broths. 

A nutritious broth alone or with noodles, chicken, and vegetables can help you feel better sooner. 


This next section will dive a little deeper to compare the nutritional content of turkey and chicken. We will also look at their vitamins and minerals. 

Both turkey and chicken provide the same amount of protein per serving and offer a rich protein source. Turkey has fewer calories due to the low-fat content. 

This makes turkey a good option for people monitoring their calorie and fat intake closely. 

When looking at the types of fat in each meat source, they are both low in saturated fat and trans fats and contain similar amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. All are optimal levels beneficial to health. 

Like most meat, turkey and chicken are not a source of carbs, fiber, or sugar. 

Compared to turkey, chicken has a slightly higher amount of cholesterol and sodium. Individuals monitoring their sodium intake should keep in mind chicken contains sodium.

Turkey breast (white meat, no skin)6 Chicken breast (white meat, no skin)7
Calories 147 calories 161 calories
Protein 30 g 30 g
Total Fat 2.1 g 3.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g 0.75 g
Trans Fat 0.02 g 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.63 g 0.93 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.53 g 0.57 g
Cholesterol 80 mg (27%) 98 mg (33% DV)
Sodium 99 mg (4% DV) 360 mg (26% DV)
Total Carbohydrates 0 g 0 g
Fiber 0 g 0 g
Sugar 0 g 0 g

Glycemic Index

Both turkey and chicken are low glycemic index foods (glycemic index of 0) due to the absence of carbohydrates and high protein content. All un-breaded meats have a glycemic index of 0. 

Protein sources are essential to meals to help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you full longer. Adequate intake of protein at meals and snacks can help with weight loss.

Turkey Optimal Glucose Range

Chicken Optimal Glucose Range


Since both types of meat are from birds, they have similar vitamins. Both turkey and chicken provide equal amounts of vitamin B6 and riboflavin. 

When looking closer, chicken meat is the richest in pantothenic acid. On the other hand, turkey meat contains more niacin and vitamin B12. 

Turkey breast (white meat, no skin)6Chicken breast (white meat, no skin)7
Niacin11.8 mg (74% DV)10.3 mg (63% DV)
Vitamin B60.8 mg (62% DV)0.87 mg (67% DV)
Riboflavin0.21 mg (16% DV)0.21 mg (16% DV)
Pantothenic acid0.9 mg (18% DV)1.58 mg (32% DV
Thiamin0.04 mg (3% DV)0.09 mg (7% DV)
Vitamin B120.39 mcg (16% DV)0.18 mcg (7% DV)


There are only two significant differences in minerals between turkey and chicken. Turkey is richer in zinc and iron, whereas chicken is higher in sodium. 

Other than that, the similarities between the two meats are identical for magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and copper; both are exceedingly rich in selenium.

Turkey breast (white meat, no skin)6 Chicken breast (white meat, no skin)7
Iron 0.7 mg (4% DV) 0.45 mg (2% DV)
Sodium 99 mg (4% DV) 360 mg (26% DV)
Zinc 1.7 mg (16% DV) 0.9 mg (8% DV)
Magnesium 32 mg (8% DV) 28 mg (7% DV)
Phosphorus 230 mg (18% DV) 229 mg (18% DV)
Potassium 249 mg (10% DV) 359 mg (14% DV)
Copper 0.063 mg (7% DV) 0.047 mg (5% DV)
Selenium 30.2 mcg (55% DV) 30.6 mcg (55% DV)
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  1. The Nutrition Source. (n.d.). Protein. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
  2. Miller, M., Gerval, A., Hansen, J., and Grossen, G. (2022, August 1). Poultry expected to continue leading global meat imports as demand rises. US Department of Agriculture. https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2022/august/poultry-expected-to-continue-leading-global-meat-imports-as-demand-rises/
  3. National Chicken Council. (n.d.). Nutrition & health. https://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/policy/nutrition-health/
  4. National Turkey Federation. (n.d.). Turkey by the numbers. https://www.eatturkey.org/turkeystats/
  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2023, March 23). Are duck and good “red” or “white” meat? https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Are-duck-and-goose-red-or-white-meat#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20proteins%20in,as%20dark%20as%20leg%20meat.
  6. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019, April 1). Turkey, whole, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171496/nutrients
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2022, October 28). Chicken breast, baked, broiled, or roasted, skin not eaten, from raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2341362/nutrients
  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019, April 1). Turkey, whole, dark meat, cooked, roasted. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171091/nutrients
  9. FRED Economic Data. (2023, October 12). Average price: Chicken breast, boneless (cost per pound/453.6 grams) in U.S. city average. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/APU0000FF1101
  10. The Fresh Market. (n.d.). Boneless turkey breast. https://www.thefreshmarket.com/products/boneless-turkey-breast-oo
  11. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2022, April 1). Organic broth, turkey. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2240127/nutrients
  12. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2022, April 1). Chicken broth. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2239717/nutrients
  13. Mar-Solís, L. M., Soto-Domínguez, A., Rodríguez-Tovar, L. E., Rodríguez-Rocha, H., García-García, A., Aguirre-Arzola, V. E., Zamora-Ávila, D. E., Garza-Arredondo, A. J., & Castillo-Velázquez, U. (2021). Analysis of the Anti-Inflammatory Capacity of Bone Broth in a Murine Model of Ulcerative Colitis. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 57(11), 1138. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina57111138
  14. Razak, M. A., Begum, P. S., Viswanath, B., & Rajagopal, S. (2017). Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2017, 1716701. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/1716701
  15. Wijnands, K. A., Castermans, T. M., Hommen, M. P., Meesters, D. M., & Poeze, M. (2015). Arginine and citrulline and the immune response in sepsis. Nutrients, 7(3), 1426–1463. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7031426
  16. Sanu, A., & Eccles, R. (2008). The effects of a hot drink on nasal airflow and symptoms of common cold and flu. Rhinology, 46(4), 271–275.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions left, please keep reading! Below, we answer frequently asked questions regarding the differences between chicken and beef in terms of healthiness level and nutrient intake:

Which Has More Protein: Turkey or Chicken?

Turkey and chicken breast have identical amounts of protein. In a 3.5-ounce serving, both provide 30 g of protein and are a rich source of protein.

When comparing dark meat, turkey contains four more grams of protein than dark meat chicken. But in reality, they are still very comparable.

Which Has More Cholesterol: Turkey or Chicken?

It depends on whether you are eating dark meat or white meat for the answer.

Chicken contains 18 mg more cholesterol per serving in white or breast meat than turkey breast meat.

When comparing dark meat, turkey has 128 mg of cholesterol per serving, whereas chicken dark meat has 75 mg per serving.

Which Has More Iron: Turkey or Chicken?

Both turkey and chicken contain iron. There is more iron in the dark meat since muscles are used more often, and iron is present in the muscles (legs of these birds). It ranges from 2% of the daily value up to 8% of the daily value for iron.

Which Is A Healthier Option: Turkey vs Chicken?

Both turkey and chicken breast are healthy meat options. Both are high in lean protein, low in saturated fat and provide comparable amounts of most vitamins and minerals.

Chicken breast is higher in pantothenic acid but has slightly more sodium and cholesterol than turkey breast.

Turkey contains more zinc, iron, niacin, and B vitamins than chicken. If you consume dark meat turkey, cholesterol is higher than in all chicken and white meat turkey types.

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