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How Many Ounces Are in a Pound of Chicken? Let’s Find Out

Chicken can be a delicious source of healthy protein for meat lovers. But with both prices and calorie counting on the rise, you might be wondering how many ounces are in a pound of chicken? Read on to find out the answer to this and other questions.

How Many Ounces Are in a Pound of Chicken?

A raw pound of chicken will yield about 12 ounces when cooked. A pound of raw boneless, skinless chicken breast usually includes two to four pieces and costs about US $3.50. A typical chicken breast weighs about six ounces, contains about 50 grams of protein, and provides about 250 calories. Because of meat shrinkage, a raw pound of chicken will yield about 12 ounces when cooked (a 4/3 ratio of raw to cooked meat).

How Many Ounces Are in a Pound of Chicken?
How Many Ounces Are in a Pound of Chicken?

Number of Chicken Breasts in a Pound

In a US supermarket, each package of chicken comes wrapped and stamped with a weight and a price per pound. So why does it seem like some packages contain more chicken than others? The truth Is that the size and weight of the package have much to do with the nature of the meat.

Unlike birds that spend most of their time in flight, chickens have heavier bones. So bone-in chicken is heavier. But even boneless, skinless chicken breast can vary in size and weight due to the fat and moisture content of the chicken.

Despite this variation, an average chicken breast weights about four to six ounces, so a package that weighs a pound or so will typically contain two to four pieces.

A pound of chicken breast will typically contain two to four pieces.
A pound of chicken breast will typically contain two to four pieces.

Amount of Protein in a Pound of Chicken Breast

Chicken is a relatively lean meat. A juicy chicken drumstick provides about 80 calories. Those calories are 70 percent protein and 30 percent fat.

On the other hand, a boneless, skinless chicken breast delivers about 250 calories. The breast is a leaner cut, so those calories are 80 percent from protein and 20 from percent fat.

According to diet and health guidelines, an average (relatively inactive) male should consume about 2 ounces (56 grams) of protein per day, and an average female should consume about 1.5 ounces (46 grams).

If that sounds like not very much, consider this: the National Chicken Council reported that the average person in the US eats more than 97 pounds of chicken per year.

A juicy chicken drumstick provides about 80 calories.
A juicy chicken drumstick provides about 80 calories.

Cost of a Pound of Chicken Breast

In 2021, the price of a pound of chicken rose to its highest level in 14 years. 1 lb. of boneless, skinless breast cost 3.73 US dollars, on average. Of course, that price varies depending on the context and the nature of the chicken!

This increase in cost may relate to an increasing demand for chicken and other poultry. How else can one explain the fact that, in 2018 there were an estimated 33 billion chickens living on the Earth (triple the amount in 1990)?

The US alone produced 44 billion pounds of chicken. And by the way, chickens are four times heavier than they were in the 1950s, according to a national study. Moreover, production has been increasing every year since 2009. Now let’s talk turkey: US turkey production has also skyrocketed, increasing by 2 billion pounds since 2017. That’s no paltry poultry!

A pound of boneless chicken breast costs 3.73 dollars on average.
A pound of boneless chicken breast costs 3.73 dollars on average.

Weight of a Pound of Chicken after Cooking

Ever notice that a pound or so of chicken in the supermarket package looks like less when it’s cooked? That’s because the moisture and fat in the chicken breast transform during cooking (that’s right—it’s the sizzling you’re hearing). The moisture evaporates, and some of the fat is rendered, giving the chicken its familiar tender chew and savory taste.

Typically, a pound of raw boneless, skinless bird will result in 12 ounces of cooked chicken. That means a chicken breast loses roughly 25 percent of its weight through cooking (or that the cooked weight is ¾ of the raw weight).

Of course white meat cooks differently than dark meat (breasts cook faster than thighs), so the final weight depends, as always, on the circumstances.

For example, oven-roasting, frying, and grilling all cause raw chicken to shrink as it’s cooked. But this is less true for boiling or braising—those cooking methods rely more on moisture.

Oven roasting, frying and grilling all cause raw chicken to shrink when cooked.
Oven roasting, frying and grilling all cause raw chicken to shrink when cooked.

Frequently Asked Questions to How Many Ounces Are In A Pound of Chicken?

Can You Eat Too Much Chicken?

Not in some households! As with other questions like this one, the answer depends on the audience. But according to diet and health guidelines, the recommended portion is 4 oz of chicken. That’s about the size of a deck of playing cards. Another way to measure is to portion by the size of the palm of your hand.

What About Canned Chicken?

Canned chicken typically weighs in at about 12 ounces–the weight of a pound of raw chicken when cooked. Those 12 ounces of canned chicken usually add up to one and a half cups of chopped or shredded chicken, according to the USDA.

How Can I Measure the Weight of a Chicken Breast?

If the weight of the chicken is stamped on the package, divide the total weight by the number of chicken breasts. If you don’t know the weight, try a kitchen scale: even a cheap one will give you an estimate that’s workable for cooking meat. No scale? A cup of chicken is 8 ounces, so if your raw or cooked chicken can be cubed or shredded into a measuring cup, you’re on your way.

What If I Want to Use Chicken Thighs or Chicken Tenders?

Chicken breasts are the leanest part of the bird, with the best protein to fat ratio. But thighs are a close second and the extra fat makes for great flavor. Plus, they can stand up to high heat—useful in some recipes. Chicken tenders are just tender cuts of breast meat. These select cuts often cost more and come in smaller sizes. For some, the texture is worth the extra expense.

Conclusion to How Many Ounces Are In A Pound of Chicken?

In short, a pound of chicken isn’t like the proverbial pound of feathers vs. the pound of lead: the number of breasts can differ, and the ratio of protein to fat is also variable. And a pound of raw boneless, skinless breast will only produce about 12 ounces of cooked bird. But chicken remains a popular, flavorful meat-lover’s choice that’s clearly in high demand.