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What is Airline Chicken? 




An Airline Chicken Breast?

(Airline Chicken ) While the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization named pork the world’s most consumed meat, poultry was listed as a close second; according to a 2019 post by the USDA, chicken is included in the latter category. It’s versatile, budget-friendly, and goes with just about anything savory. There are many ways to prepare it, from roasting and grilling to poaching and frying. And believe it or not, it’s a healthy meat to eat, boasting little fat when the skin is removed (via Verywell Fit).

Recent research indicates that Americans have shifted from beef consumption to chicken, averaging about 8 billion chickens consumed annually (via Vox). To put it in perspective, in the 1970s, on average, a person would consume 50 pounds of chicken meat per year, whereas now, people eat over 100 pounds.

It’s important to know the different parts of the chicken. It comes in many different cuts, with breasts, legs, thighs, and wings being the most popular, but there’s another special cut to look out for – airline chicken breast.

A chicken breast with a drumette attached

Karen Culp/Shutterstock

Euro Poultry says an airline chicken breast is a hand-cut chicken breast with the first wing joint. Other common names are Statler chicken, Frenched breast, and chicken supreme. But how did it get its unique name? Martha Stewart states that airline chicken breasts’ origins are linked to air travel. They were served on airplanes because they were easier to eat without utensils. Passengers could hold onto the drumette and eat the meat. Another theory is that the shape of the meat resembles an airplane, and the drumette resembles the plane’s wing.

Either way, it’s a delectable cut of meat and one you may not find in your typical grocery store. Jenni Harris, director of marketing at White Oak Pastures, states that airline chicken breasts are found in more “upscale butcher shops.” If you’re willing to break down a chicken and create the airline breast yourself, chef Jacob Burton has a YouTube video on how to do it. From there, you can sear it in a skillet like an ordinary chicken breast, adding a few more minutes to the timer to account for the extra meat.

Airline Chicken Breast Recipe

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 50 mins

Yield: 2 airline chicken breasts


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pinches herbes de Provence, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ½ cup chicken stock, or to taste


  • Slice off 1/2 of each chicken wing by cutting through the joint where the wing meets the drumette. Slice through the skin between the thighs and breasts. Make a shallow cut along the breast bone and 2 deep cuts on either side, separating the breasts.
  • Slice each breast off the carcass using the tip of the knife, keeping the blade pressed against the bone. Cut through the cartilage to remove the breast with the wing attached.
  • Remove the tenders and trim as needed—season with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbes de Provence, and cayenne pepper.
  • Push your finger gently under the skin of each breast, right next to the wing bone, to separate it from the meat. Slide 1 tender under the skin, center it and smooth over the skin. Sprinkle salt over breasts.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, skin-side down. Cook until the bottom is browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Flip, reduce heat to medium, and cook until no longer pink on the inside, 7 to 10 minutes more. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, rosemary, and thyme. Baste chicken with the butter. Remove chicken from the skillet.
  • Pour the stock into the pan; increase heat to high. Boil until reduced to desired thickness, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the remaining butter. Slice each chicken breast into thirds and spoon the pan sauce on top.

Chef’s Notes:

Feel free to use whatever spices and seasoning you wish since that will not affect the technique. Cover the chicken in plastic wrap to prep and refrigerate it after seasoning.

You’re usually told to cook the chicken to 165 degrees F (74 degrees C), but I usually stop at 150 degrees F (66 degrees C) for more tender results. This is the recipe for airline chicken breast.