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The Best-Tasting Chicken Brands

Photo: Brian Woodcock

Pretty much anything mild and meaty earns the comparison of "tastes like chicken." But does the pricier organic chicken really taste better than the cheaper conventional? Or do we just like to think that it does? Here, we put the labels to the taste test.

Pretty much anything mild and meaty earns the comparison title of “tastes like chicken.” But how much does one chicken compare to another chicken? Does the more expensive organic chicken really taste better than cheaper conventional? Or do we just like to think that it does? To find out, we sat a team of tasters down to 12 chicken breasts, a fork, and a notepad. To eliminate labeling biases, we kept the tasting blind, choosing skinless, boneless breasts over the whole bird, because that’s what our readers most often cook. Ratings were based on a scale of 1 to 5, and all chicken was poached to 160° for consistency.


Springer Mt. Farms
About this chicken: Antibiotic-free, cage-free, vegetarian diets
What we thought: Good mellow flavor, meaty yet tender, slices well


Publix
About this chicken: All-natural
What we thought: Mild chicken flavor, pleasantly meaty texture


Bell & Evans Organic
About this chicken: No GMOs, free-range, air-chilled
What we thought: Very tender, thigh-like texture and rich, meaty flavor


Target Market Pantry
About this chicken: All-natural
What we thought: Near vegetal flavor, slightly chalky in chew



Coleman Natural Foods Organic (Costco)

What we thought: Mildly gamey with a bit of earthiness, juicy and succulent


Just BARE Gold'N Plump
About this chicken: No antibiotics, vegetarian diet, American Humane Certified
What we thought: Rich texture but slightly dry, mild neutral flavor


Gold'N Plump

About this chicken: All-natural
What we thought: Robust, slightly sweet flavor but very dry—needs a sauce


Kirkland Fresh-Harvested (Costco)

What we thought: Hearty roasted flavor, but dense and doughy texture


Perdue Fit & Easy
About this chicken: Vegetarian diet, cage-free
What we thought: Moist but slightly rubbery, grassy flavor


Bell & Evans
About this chicken: Antibiotic-free, vegetarian diet, all-natural, air-chilled
What we thought: Brothy flavor but dry texture


Sanderson Farms

About this chicken: 100% natural
What we thought: Slightly tacky texture, flavor unmemorable


Perdue Harvestland
About this chicken: No antibiotics, vegetarian diet, cage-free
What we thought: Lots of minerality with a tough texture

Bottom line: Not all chicken brands are created equal, and a more virtuous label does not always mean a better-tasting chicken. Avoid basted birds, and for a more robust, meatier flavor, seek out organic chicken. Our best advice? Buy a couple of chickens, taste for yourself, and find a brand that works for your family, your conscience, and your budget. Come dinnertime, the best thing you can do is buy the bird you have confidence in.

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