Ground Turkey vs. Ground Chicken: Popular Uses, Health Benefits, and Major Differences


Ground turkey and ground chicken are two popular options when it comes to choosing lean meats for various recipes. While they may seem interchangeable, there are some important differences between them. In terms of nutrition, ground turkey is generally leaner than ground chicken, with higher iron content and lower sodium levels. On the other hand, ground chicken has a slightly stronger flavor and more cholesterol. In this article, we will explore the health benefits, popular uses, and major differences between ground turkey and ground chicken to help you make an informed decision when choosing between the two.

Ground Turkey vs. Ground Chicken: Popular Uses, Health Benefits, and Major Differences

Ground Turkey

Ground turkey is derived from grinding up the leaner parts of turkey meat along with skin and fat from the butchering process. There are various types of ground turkey available, including dark or white meat options. The ratio of lean meat to fat varies, with options like 93/7, 90/10, 85/15, 98/2, and even 99/1. Ground turkey has a milder taste compared to ground chicken and is a popular choice for dishes like meatloaf, meatballs, casseroles, and tacos.

History and Origin of Ground Turkey

Ground turkey first appeared in supermarket deli fridges in the 1970s. It was a convenient way to utilize excess turkey meat and skin, ensuring that no part of the bird went to waste. Ground turkey gained popularity in the 1990s due to its leanness in comparison to beef or chicken. Since then, it has become a staple in the cold meat aisle of grocery stores worldwide.

Uses for Ground Turkey

Ground turkey offers a wide range of possibilities in the kitchen. It can be used to create delicious and healthy recipes such as turkey chili, spaghetti with turkey meatballs in spicy tomato sauce, taco soup, and even turkey meatloaf. The versatility of ground turkey makes it a popular choice for various dishes.

Ground Chicken

Ground chicken, similar to ground turkey, is made by grinding up the extra meat from chickens. It is a lean meat option that is high in protein and offers a good base for seasoning. When cooking with ground chicken, it is important to add some form of fat to prevent it from drying out. Ground chicken is commonly used in dishes like meatballs, casseroles, chili, chicken burgers, and even as a topping or filling for pizza.

History and Origin of Ground Chicken

Ground chicken likely originated as a way to utilize all parts of the chicken, especially during periods of food insecurity. Chicken has been bred for its meat and eggs for thousands of years and is a widely consumed protein source. Ground chicken has become popular due to its affordability and versatility in various recipes.

How to Use Ground Chicken

When working with ground chicken, it is important to add some form of fat to the mixture to prevent dryness. This can be achieved by including full-fat yogurt, bacon fat, or incorporating fat while sautéing or cooking the seasoned ground chicken. Proper seasoning is also crucial to enhance the flavor of dishes made with ground chicken.

Nutritional Value

The nutritional value of ground turkey and ground chicken may vary depending on the specific fat content, skin inclusion, and cuts of meat used in the mixture. On average, 113 grams of ground turkey contains approximately 292 calories, 20 grams of total fat, 120 milligrams of cholesterol, 96 milligrams of sodium, and 28 grams of protein. Ground turkey is also a good source of vitamin D, iron, calcium, and potassium. On the other hand, 113 grams of ground chicken provides around 214.8 calories, 20 grams of total fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 96 milligrams of sodium, and 26.7 grams of protein. It also contains essential nutrients like calcium, iron, and potassium.

Ground Turkey and Ground Chicken Comparison

While ground turkey and ground chicken may appear similar in their ground form, they are not the same. They possess slightly different nutritional profiles and flavors, making them distinct meats. However, they can often be used interchangeably in recipes, depending on personal preferences and dietary needs.

Possible Alternatives to Ground Turkey or Ground Chicken

If ground turkey and ground chicken do not suit your preferences or dietary requirements, there are several alternative options available. Other types of ground meat, such as beef, lamb, pork, and veal, can be used as substitutes. These meats have their own unique flavors and characteristics that can bring a different taste to your dishes. Non-meat alternatives like Beyond Meat products, tofu, seitan, and tempeh offer plant-based options for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Additionally, various vegetables can be used as substitutes in certain ground meat recipes. Lentils, cauliflower, mushrooms, bulgur wheat, and eggplant can provide flavor and substance to dishes in place of ground meat.


When it comes to choosing between ground turkey and ground chicken, it is important to consider their nutritional profiles, flavors, and uses in different recipes. Ground turkey is leaner and milder, while ground chicken offers a slightly stronger flavor. Both meats can be used in a variety of delicious dishes, from meatballs to casseroles. However, if neither option appeals to you, there are alternative ground meats and non-meat alternatives available to suit your preferences and dietary needs. Explore the options and enjoy the versatility and health benefits that ground meats can offer in your cooking.