Is chicken feet high in calories?

Chicken feet, also known as chicken paws, are a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world. They are used in dishes like dim sum and chicken stock. Some people enjoy eating chicken feet for their unique taste and texture. But are chicken feet high in calories? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional content of this ingredient.

Calories in Chicken Feet

According to the USDA, a 3 oz (85 g) serving of cooked chicken feet contains:

  • Calories: 174
  • Protein: 15 g
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Carbs: 0 g

So in a typical serving, chicken feet provide 174 calories. To put this into perspective, here are the calories for 3 oz servings of some other common foods:

Food Calories
Skinless chicken breast 140
Ground beef (15% fat) 232
Salmon 175
Baked potato 161

As you can see, chicken feet are moderate in calories compared to other protein foods. They contain a bit more calories than a chicken breast, but less than an equal portion of ground beef.

Chicken Feet Are High in Cartilage

One reason that chicken feet are moderately high in calories is that they contain a lot of cartilage and connective tissue. The collagen in these tissues provides substantial calories (about 9 calories per gram, similar to protein).

Other cartilage-containing foods like pork ribs, lamb shanks, and beef knuckles also provide significant calories for this reason. So while chicken feet are not extremely high in calories, their cartilage content results in more calories than a piece of boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Chicken Feet Are High in Fat

Another factor contributing to the calorie content of chicken feet is their high fat content. Over 60% of the calories in chicken feet come from fat. This is significantly higher than most cuts of chicken.

For example, a skinless chicken breast is only around 5% fat calories. Chicken feet contain more unsaturated fat than chicken breast, but they are still fairly high in saturated fat as well.

The skin and subcutaneous fat are left intact on most chicken feet. All this fat means that chicken feet end up having a high calorie density for their weight.

Calories Can Add Up Quickly

While an average serving of chicken feet has a moderate 174 calories, the calories can accumulate quickly if you eat multiple pieces. For example:

  • 5 chicken feet would provide nearly 900 calories
  • 10 chicken feet would provide over 1700 calories

When enjoying chicken feet, it’s important to pay attention to portion sizes to keep your calorie intake reasonable. 3-5 chicken feet can make a good part of a meal.

How the Chicken Feet Are Prepared Makes a Difference

How chicken feet are prepared can also impact their resulting calorie content. Chicken feet are often boiled, stewed, or deep fried:

  • Boiling results in lower fat chicken feet and thus fewer calories.
  • Stewing in a flavorful sauce adds minimal calories.
  • Deep frying significantly increases the calories in chicken feet.

The cooking method can easily sway the calorie count by 50-100 calories or more per serving. Deep fried chicken feet should be enjoyed in moderation if you are concerned about calories.

Compare to Other Dim Sum Items

Chicken feet are commonly eaten as part of a dim sum meal. How do their calories compare to other popular dim sum menu items? Here are the calorie counts for some common choices (per piece):

Dim Sum Item Calories
Shrimp dumpling 50
Siu mai (pork & shrimp) 45
Chicken foot 87
Steamed pork bun 275
Fried pork wonton (4 pieces) 195

Chicken feet have a higher calorie count than dumplings and siu mai, but much less than fried wontons or steamed buns. For dim sum, chicken feet are a mid-range option in terms of calorie density.

Ways to Reduce Calories in Chicken Feet

If you want to enjoy chicken feet but reduce the calorie count, here are some tips:

  • Remove the skin and fat before cooking.
  • Boil or steam instead of deep frying.
  • Use low-calorie dipping sauces like mustard or hot sauce.
  • Balance with lower calorie dim sum items like dumplings.
  • Watch your portion and don’t overeat.

With some simple modifications, you can still enjoy the unique taste and texture of chicken feet as part of a healthy diet.

Health Benefits of Chicken Feet

Despite their calorie content, chicken feet have some great health benefits:

  • Collagen – Excellent source of collagen protein for youthful skin and joint health.
  • Gelatin – Contains gelatin which aids digestion and gut health.
  • Minerals – Provides minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.
  • Lean protein – Chicken feet have more protein than fat when skin is removed.

These nutrients can support bone strength, arthritis symptoms, skin and hair health, and immune function. So while chicken feet should be enjoyed in moderation, they do provide important benefits.

Are Chicken Feet Fattening?

Chicken feet are relatively high in calories and fat compared to other forms of chicken. But are they “fattening” as a part of your diet?

As with any food, chicken feet can contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess. However, enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet, chicken feet do not need to be fattening.

Here are some tips to enjoy chicken feet without overdoing the calories:

  • Eat reasonable portion sizes – 3-5 pieces or less per meal
  • Avoid eating multiple servings in one sitting
  • Balance with lower calorie foods like vegetables
  • Remove the skin to cut down on fat and calories
  • Don’t make chicken feet an everyday meal

The key is moderation and balance. Chicken feet can certainly be part of a healthy diet and should not lead to weight gain when consumed responsibly along with an active lifestyle.


Chicken feet contain a moderate number of calories – about 174 calories per 3 oz serving. This is slightly more than a chicken breast, but less than many fatty cuts of meat.

The high collagen and fat content of chicken feet contribute to their calories. Deep fried chicken feet are highest in calories, while boiled are lower.

Enjoyed in reasonable portions, chicken feet do not need to be fattening. Their unique texture and health benefits make them an excellent occasional treat. Pair chicken feet with lower calorie choices to balance their calorie count.

So savor chicken feet in moderation alongside an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle. With balance, you can enjoy their unique flavor without going overboard on calories.

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