What Is Airline Chicken Breast?


Learn all about this juicy cut of chicken, including why you should be cooking it at home.

Chicken is one of our favorite meats to cook with because it’s economical, family-friendly, comes in many different cuts, and is always delicious. While cuts like breasts, thighs, and wings are generally the most popular, there’s another extra-special type of chicken to look out for, and that’s airline chicken breast. Airline chicken breast consists of a bone-in or boneless skin-on chicken breast that has the drumette attached. “Having the drumette still attached to the chicken breast is what makes this cut different than your average chicken breast,” says Colton Rockwell, marketing and operations manager for Porter & York. Ahead, we explain the origins of airline chicken breast and share tips for cooking and serving this cut of meat at home.

What Is Airline Chicken Breast?
While you may not find it on a modern-day aircraft as you jet-set across the country, its origins are linked to air travel. “Originally, airline chicken breasts were served on airplanes because the meat could be consumed by simply holding onto the drumette and eating it that way,” says Rockwell. However, some people believe that the breast can resemble an airplane and the drumette can look like the wing of a plane when it’s served. You may also find this cut labeled as “Frenched Breast” or “Statler Chicken,” says Rockwell.

When shopping for airline chicken breasts, you most likely won’t find it in a regular grocery store, but rather upscale butcher shops, says Jenni Harris, a fifth-generation rancher and director of marketing at White Oak Pastures. Some specialty butchers may sell this cut, but you are most likely going to have to ask a butcher in advance if they can prepare this for you. Expect to pay between $8 and $12 for one pound of airline chicken breast.

Why Should You Seek Out Airline Chicken Breast?
So, are you wondering why you should cook airplane chicken breast rather than regular chicken breasts? “Someone should cook an airline over a regular chicken breast if they are looking for a new way to enjoy chicken. The skin gets crispy and delicious when cooked, and the drumette adds a new place to hold the chicken if you wanted to turn it into finger food,” says Rockwell. Harris adds that a bone-in cut of airplane chicken breast will be more flavorful and stand out on the plate.

How to Cook and Serve It
To cook airline chicken breast, try grilling it skin side down and basting with barbecue sauce, or searing it in a cast-iron skillet. Before cooking the chicken, pat it very dry with paper towels to absorb excess moisture, which will help the skin to get extra-crispy. Let the chicken sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking it, which will help to keep the meat juicy and tender. Preheat the oven to 375°F. From here, sear the chicken skin-side up in a hot cast-iron pan on the stovetop with olive oil for three minutes, then flip it and cook for another three minutes. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165°F.


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