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Are Drumettes or flats better?

Chicken wings are a beloved appetizer and snack food. They come in two main types – the drumette, which is the meatier upper segment, and the flat, which is the thinner middle segment. Both drumettes and flats have their passionate fans, so which is really better?

What are chicken wings?

Chicken wings are the actual wings of chickens. The wings are divided into three segments – the drumette, the flat, and the wing tip. The drumette is shaped like a small drumstick, with more meat and a single bone. The flat is thinner and contains less meat, with two smaller bones inside. The wing tip is mostly skin and cartilage, with very little meat. It is usually trimmed off before cooking.

Chicken wings can be prepared in many ways, but they are most famous for being deep fried and coated in a spicy sauce. This preparation originated as an appetizer in American bars and pubs in the 1960s. The spicy, crispy wings paired perfectly with beer. Buffalo wings, as they came to be known, soon became a sensation across the United States.

Differences between drumettes and flats

Drumettes and flats have some key differences that affect their taste, texture, and eating experience:

Amount of meat

Drumettes contain more meat than flats, since they come from the thicker upper wing segment. The meat on a drumette is also more tender and easier to eat off the bone.

Skin to meat ratio

With their thinner profile, flats have a higher ratio of crispy skin relative to meat. Drumettes have a higher meat to skin ratio.


Drumettes contain one larger bone, while flats contain two smaller bones. The bone-in drumette gives you a meatier mouthfeel when eating it. The bones make flats a bit trickier to eat neatly.

Cooking time

The thicker drumettes take several minutes longer to cook than the thinner flats. Drumettes may need 6-8 minutes in an air fryer, while flats need only 5-6 minutes.


Drumettes and flats have very similar nutritional values. Here is a comparison of the nutrition facts for 3 oz cooked servings of each:

Nutrient Drumettes Flats
Calories 221 218
Fat 16 g 15 g
Protein 17 g 16 g
Carbs 0 g 0 g

As you can see, drumettes and flats are nearly identical when it comes to calories, protein, fat, and carbs. The drumettes edge out the flats slightly for protein content thanks to their greater amount of meat. But overall, both offer protein-packed, low carb options for snacking.

Eating experience

Beyond nutrition, drumettes and flats offer some differences in eating experience:


With more surface area and crispy skin relative to meat, flats tend to get more seasoned and absorb sauces deeply. Drumettes have bolder, meatier flavor coming through. If you want to highlight wings with an intense dry rub or sauce, flats may be the better canvas.


The thinner profile and two bones of flats make them a bit messier and trickier to eat than drumettes. Lots of people still feel that getting their fingers saucy is part of the fun though!


The meatier drumettes provide more filling satisfaction per wing. Their heft makes them more of a substantial snack or appetizer.


Due to their greater amount of meat, drumettes are often more expensive per pound than flats. Based on average grocery store prices, drumettes cost about $1 more per pound:

Type Average Cost
Drumettes $6/lb
Flats $5/lb

However, when buying prepared wings from a restaurant or takeout place, drumettes and flats are often priced the same per order. So in that case, drumettes give you more meat for your money.


In the battle between drumettes vs. flats, drumettes come out as the more popular option. According to data from the National Chicken Council, among customers who have a preference, 65% prefer drumettes compared to 35% who prefer flats.

The main reasons for drumettes’ greater popularity seem to be their meatier, more satisfying bite and larger portion of meat per wing. Flats do have their die-hard fans though thanks to their unique texture and sauce absorbing qualities. A market does exist for flats among wing enthusiasts who don’t mind navigating the bones.

Preparing and cooking methods

Drumettes and flats can be used interchangeably in most typical chicken wing recipes, but there are some preparation tips to note for each:


  • Take a couple minutes longer to cook than flats
  • Can be quickly seasoned since the sauce adheres easily to the meat
  • Great for grilling since they won’t dry out quickly
  • The thicker shape holds up well to frying and deep frying


  • Only need about 5-6 minutes to cook through
  • More surface area means faster crispiness when frying in oil or air frying
  • Benefit from marinades since the sauce flavors really seep in
  • Brushing sauce on while cooking helps it adhere to the skin

Verdict: which is better?

So in the battle of drumettes vs. flats, is there a clear winner? Based on all the factors, here is a summary:

Drumettes pros:

  • More meat per wing
  • Easier to eat
  • More tender, juicy meat
  • More flavor from the meat
  • More filling as a snack / appetizer

Flats pros:

  • Get crispier from frying
  • Absorb sauces and flavorings well
  • Offer great skin to meat to bone ratio
  • Are often cheaper
  • Provide unique wing eating experience

Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. Drumettes win out slightly overall thanks to their meaty satisfaction. But flats have their devotees as well. The best solution is to enjoy both types of wings to get the full chicken wing experience!


Drumettes and flats each have their pros and cons. Drumettes offer juicier, meatier bites, while flats have a great skin to meat ratio for maximum crispiness and sauce coverage. Flats provide a unique eating experience thanks to their two bones and potential for messiness. Drumettes are more popular overall though, with 65% of wing eaters favoring them. You can’t go wrong with either option – just choose based on whether you prefer bigger, meatier bites or maximum crispiness and sauce absorption. The ideal solution may be to order a 50/50 drumette and flat mix to get the benefits of both in one order!