Chicken leg quarters are a delicious and nutritious part of the chicken that includes both the leg and the thigh. With the bone in, leg quarters make for a hearty, savory meal. But how many calories does a chicken leg quarter contain? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is A Chicken Leg Quarter?
A chicken leg quarter contains both the leg and the thigh portions still attached together with the bone. It is essentially half of a whole chicken leg. Chicken leg quarters contain a good mix of both white and dark meat and are known for being juicy and flavorful.
Leg quarters are often sold with the skin on to help keep the meat moist during cooking. The skin also provides added flavor. Chicken leg quarters can be prepared many different ways including roasting, grilling, baking, and broiling.
Calories In A Chicken Leg Quarter
According to the USDA, one skin-on, bone-in chicken leg quarter contains the following calories and macronutrients:
So a skin-on, bone-in chicken leg quarter contains 185 calories. This is for a leg quarter that is about 5-6 oz (140-170g) without the bone. Keep in mind that different brands and cuts may have slight variations in their nutrition information.
Calories With And Without Skin
The skin makes a significant difference in the calorie count. Here’s how the calories compare for a chicken leg quarter with and without skin, according to the USDA:
Removing the skin removes a good portion of the fat, dropping the calories by about 37 per leg quarter. The skin contributes a lot of flavor, but ditching it can save quite a few calories.
Calories With Bone vs Boneless
Taking the bone out also reduces the calorie count. Here is the nutrition data for boneless chicken leg quarters according to the USDA:
Removing the bone cuts about 25 calories per leg quarter. The weight of the bone contributes to the overall ounce weight, so boneless quarters contain a bit less actual meat.
Comparing Leg Quarters To Chicken Breasts
How do leg quarters compare calorie-wise to other parts of the chicken, like the breast? According to the USDA, here are the calories for a boneless, skinless chicken breast versus a leg quarter:
A boneless, skinless leg quarter does have more calories than the same weight of a boneless, skinless chicken breast. But chicken leg quarters tend to have more flavor and be more moist. The 18 extra calories may be worth it for the added juiciness and flavor the leg and thigh meat provides.
Calories In Whole Chicken Leg
What if you are cooking a whole chicken leg instead of just a quarter? Here are the nutrition facts according to the USDA:
|Skin-on, bone-in chicken leg
|Skinless, boneless chicken leg
A whole leg contains a few more calories than just a quarter leg. But the differences are minor when comparing the same skin-on vs skinless and bone-in vs boneless preparations.
Calories In Other Chicken Cuts
For comparison, here are the calories for some other common chicken cuts, according to USDA data:
Chicken wings and drumsticks are significantly lower in calories than leg quarters or chicken breasts. The thigh is lower in calories than the whole leg quarter as well.
How Much Protein In A Chicken Leg Quarter?
In addition to being fairly high in calories, chicken leg quarters also contain a good amount of protein:
|Skin-on, bone-in quarter
|Skinless, boneless quarter
Protein helps you feel full and satisfied after eating. It also provides amino acids that help maintain and repair muscles. Chicken leg quarters make an excellent high-protein option.
Benefits Of Chicken Leg Quarters
Here are some benefits chicken leg quarters offer:
- Provide a good balance of dark and white meat
- Are moist and flavorful
- Are budget-friendly compared to chicken breasts
- pack nearly 20g protein per quarter
- Are simple to prepare
- Make tasty leftovers
The combination of juicy meat, crispy skin, nutritional value, and savory flavor make chicken leg quarters a satisfying meal option.
Best Cooking Methods For Chicken Leg Quarters
Chicken leg quarters can be prepared using a variety of cooking methods. Here are some top options:
Roasting makes the skin crispy and browns the outside while keeping the meat moist. Season the quarters and roast at 400°F for 45-60 minutes.
The grill gives quarters nice char marks. Grill over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally.
Bake seasoned quarters on a sheet pan at 375°F for 40-50 minutes until cooked through.
Broil leg quarters 4-5 inches from heat for 18-22 minutes, flipping halfway through. Watch closely to avoid burning.
For tender, juicy quarters, cook 1-2 hours at 165°F then sear the outside.
Add quarters to a slow cooker with seasoning and liquid. Cook on low 4-6 hours.
pressure cook quarters in the Instant Pot with broth or sauce for 18-25 minutes with a quick release.
Does Cooking Method Change Calories?
The cooking method doesn’t directly affect the calorie content of chicken leg quarters. However, how much additional fat or oil you use can increase the calories. Roasting, grilling, baking, and broiling don’t require any added fat. Pan frying, deep frying or cooking in a lot of oil will increase the total calories.
How To Reduce Calories In Chicken Leg Quarters
For those watching their calorie intake, there are some simple ways to reduce the calories in chicken leg quarters:
- Remove the skin before or after cooking
- Trim off any excess fat
- Use a rack when roasting or baking to allow fat to drip away
- Don’t bread or coat in batter before cooking
- Cook using a lower calorie method like roasting, grilling or baking
- Avoid frying
- Be mindful of high calorie sauces or seasonings
Preparing quarters without the skin and trimming excess fat can make a significant difference in the calorie count. Opting for dry heat cooking methods can also keep the calories down.
Healthy Ways To Prepare Chicken Leg Quarters
While delicious on their own, chicken leg quarters pair well with all sorts of healthy sides and flavors. Here are some healthy preparation ideas:
- Roasted lemon garlic quarters
- Tandoori spiced baked quarters
- Quarters glazed with apricot preserves
- Quarters cooked with mushrooms and onions
- Quarters served over arugula salad
- Balsamic grilled quarters
- Quarters baked with cherry tomatoes and squash
- Jerk spiced quarters
Get creative with fresh herbs, spices, fruits and veggies to make scrumptious and nutritious chicken leg quarters. Serve with healthy sides like brown rice, quinoa or a green salad.
Are leg quarters white or dark meat?
Chicken leg quarters contain both the dark meat of the leg and the white meat of the thigh so they provide a good combination of both.
Can you eat chicken leg quarters pink?
It’s best to cook chicken leg quarters until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the meat is no longer pink. Undercooked chicken can potentially harbor harmful bacteria.
Which is healthier breasts or leg quarters?
Chicken breasts are a bit lower in fat and calories than leg quarters. But leg quarters contain more vitamins and minerals. Both can be healthy options.
How long do leftover leg quarters last?
Cooked chicken leg quarters will keep 3-4 days refrigerated and 4-6 months in the freezer. Reheat fully until steaming hot.
Chicken leg quarters make a tasty, protein-packed meal. A skin-on, bone-in leg quarter contains about 185 calories, with 19g of protein. Removing the skin and bone reduces calories slightly. Compared to breasts, leg quarters are a bit higher in calories but provide juicier, more flavorful meat. Roasting, baking, grilling and broiling are healthy cooking methods. Chicken leg quarters can be prepared myriad flavorful ways while providing an affordable and nutritious dinner option.