Black Chicken

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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a raw black chicken with head on before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat black chicken?

Black chicken may be offered as soon as baby is ready for solids, which is generally around 6 months old. Black chicken is a great way to introduce a special color that’s rarely seen in food, which, when added to a variety of other colorful foods early in a baby’s eating journey, can help the child be open to colorful foods later on.

Like the widely available white chicken meat, black chicken has countless uses in the kitchen: roasted whole, used to make protein-rich stocks, shredded, grilled, and much more. In China, black chicken is often cooked in simple soups with strong flavors like ginseng and ginger, and a Hmong recipe in Vietnam calls for grilling black chicken with honey and galangal.

★Tip: Black chickens tend to have a lot less meat than white chickens from factory farms. For a family of three, you may want to purchase two black chickens. Keep those carcasses: they make a fantastic bone broth.

History and uses of black chicken

Black chicken is the meat from—that’s right—black chickens. There are many breeds of chicken, but it’s the naturally occurring black skin and meat under the feathers of certain breeds that give this bird its classification, thanks to a dominant genetic trait known as fibromelanosis. For example, the Silkie chicken, which is commonly bred in China, has fluffy feathers, jet-black skin, and blue-to-black meat and bones, and the Kadaknath chicken hailing from India has midnight blue-black feathers and dark black skin, meat, and bones.

Associations with black chickens are deeply culturally specific. In many parts of Asia, they are often not bred for commercial use but instead raised for local consumption or cultural ceremonies. The Ayam Cemani chicken is used mostly for ceremonial purposes in Indonesia, for example, and has only recently become more globally bought, bred, and sold. The Silkie chicken was regularly eaten in China long before it became popular in the United States as a pet and backyard layer. If choosing to consume black chicken, aim to make that choice with mindfulness and respect for the way others’ cultural contexts might be different.

Amelia, 7 months, eats a black chicken drumstick with the skin removed.
Zuri, 9 months, eats a black chicken drumstick with the skin removed.

Is black chicken healthy for babies?

Yes. While nutrition information is limited, Black chicken has a similar nutrient profile to the common chicken (high in B vitamins, choline, iron and zinc) and some studies show extra antioxidant activity in black chicken from carnosine and anserine—nutrients that are essential for tissue growth, especially in the brain and muscles, and protect cells from damage.1 2 Interestingly, while some varieties of black chicken may be lower in fat than the common chicken, they can contain more essential fats, which are key for the early development of cells, tissues and organs.3 4

★Tip: Keep chicken in the refrigerator or freezer and store it separately from produce. When you are ready to cook, thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator (never on the counter) and thoroughly wash your hands and surfaces that come into contact with the raw meat. Chicken is often associated with food-borne illness from bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter and can contaminate other food it touches.5

Is black chicken a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Like all meat and poultry, chicken is a common choking hazard, so avoid offering large chunks or cubes to babies. To minimize the risk, refrain from cutting chicken in cubes and instead, follow our age-appropriate guidelines. Also, be sure not to overcook chicken as this causes it to be dry and more challenging to chew and swallow. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment and stay within arm’s reach of baby during meals.

For more information on choking, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Is black chicken a common allergen?

No. Black chicken is not a common food allergen. However, cases of poultry allergy have been reported.6 7 Chicken has been reported as a trigger for FPIES (Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome), which results in delayed vomiting with or without diarrhea 2 to 4 hours after the ingestion of chicken meat.

Additionally, certain individuals with fish allergies may have an increased risk of being sensitive to chicken, though this is rare.8 Some individuals with known allergy to feather and egg also have positive allergy test results to chicken meat.9 However, this does not commonly result in symptoms after the ingestion of well-cooked meat, as the allergenic protein is heat sensitive. Therefore, routine testing for chicken meat allergy is not recommended in cases of egg allergy.

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity during the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount over future meals.

How do you prepare black chicken for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: Go big! Serve a whole drumstick with the skin and any loose cartilage, pin bones, and fat removed. Babies love to pick up and munch on drumsticks—and it is fantastic for oral-motor skills. Baby will not likely consume much, and this is okay.  If a too-big piece of meat is torn off, give baby time to work with the food before intervening. Babies have innate reflexes to help push food forward and spit it out before it gets far enough back to cause choking. In addition to drumsticks, you can serve chicken breast sliced into strips about the size of two adult fingers pressed together. Once a baby is able to bite and tear food (around 8 to 9 months of age), try serving thinner slices—about the size of an adult pinky finger.

9 to 12 months old: Finely shred or slice chicken into very thin strips. At this age, babies can get ambitious and start stuffing and shoveling food in their mouths. While a good learning experience, it can be quite stressful. Nervous? Tear the meat into little shreds to minimize the risk.

12 to 24 months old: Offer bite-sized pieces of chicken as finger food or let the toddler practice with a utensil. To reduce the risk of choking, refrain from offering chunks of chicken or serving perfectly sized cubes. When you feel a child’s eating skills have developed, increase the size of food by serving a whole drumstick with the skin, pin bones, and loose cartilage or fat removed.

Dinnertime fast approaching and all out of ideas? Our dinner guide has 100 baby- and toddler-friendly recipes that are easy to make, each accompanied with gorgeous photos.

Recipe: Coconut Braised Black Chicken

a whole black chicken cooked in coconut milk broken into five large pieces, two breasts, one wing, and two legs

Yield: 3-4 cups (710 milliliters)
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 3- to 5-pound (1.3 to 2.2 kilograms) Silkie chicken, cut into legs, thighs, and breasts
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 (13.5 ounces or 400 grams) can coconut milk

Note: This recipe contains coconut, which is classified as a tree nut (allergen) by the FDA. Coconut allergy is rare.

Directions

  1. Peel and quarter a large yellow onion and set the quarters in the bottom of a large pot.
  2. Put the chicken pieces on top of the onions, then pour enough stock to cover about half of the chicken in the pot.
  3. Sprinkle the Chinese five spice powder over the top and add the smashed garlic.
  4. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 75 minutes, or until the thigh meat of the chicken is cooked through (165°F internally).
  5. Allow to cool, then serve.
  6. To make broth (optional): Once the majority of meat has been removed from the chicken, crack the bones at the joints, put the bones into a pot, and cover with water. Add 2 cups of vegetables such as onions, carrots, and celery. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, and cook for two hours or all day, if possible. Turn off the heat, let the broth cool a bit, then strain the broth into a container. Broth freezes well.
  7. Serve: Offer baby a drumstick with the skin removed or remove the meat from the bones and shred for babies who have developed a pincer grasp. For more details on how to serve chicken for baby’s age, see our age-appropriate serving suggestions.

To Store: Cooked chicken keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 4 months. Store the carcass in an air-tight container in freezer to use at a later date to make chicken stock.

Flavor Pairings

Black chicken, similar to dark meat chicken, turkey, or game, will taste good with all types of spices and aromatics. Try adding flavor with anise, cinnamon, ginger, Sichuan peppercorn, or turmeric, or go with coconut and bright fruity flavors from goji berries, blackberries, currants, or cherries.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Lengkidworraphiphat P, Wongpoomchai R, Taya S, Jaturasitha S. (2020). Effect of genotypes on macronutrients and antioxidant capacity of chicken breast meat. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, 33 (11),1817-1823. DOI: 10.5713/ajas.19.0736. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  2. Tian, Y., Xie, M., Wang, W. et al. (2007). Determination of carnosine in Black-Bone Silky Fowl (Gallus gallus domesticus Brisson) and common chicken by HPLC. European Food Research and Technology, 226, 311. DOI: 10.1007/s00217-006-0528-1. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  3. Lengkidworraphiphat P, Wongpoomchai R, Taya S, Jaturasitha S. (2020). Effect of genotypes on macronutrients and antioxidant capacity of chicken breast meat. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, 33 (11),1817-1823. DOI: 10.5713/ajas.19.0736. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  4. Saenmuang S, Phothiset S, Chumnanka C. (2019). Extraction and characterization of gelatin from black-bone chicken by-products. Food Science and Biotechnology, 29(4), 469-478. DOI: 10.1007/s10068-019-00696-4. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  5. Dewey-Mattia, D., Manikonda, K., Hall, A.J., Wise, M.E., Crowe, S.J. (2018). Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 2009–2015. Surveillance Summaries, 67(10), 1–11. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  6. Zacharisen M.C. (2006). Severe allergy to chicken meatWisconsin Medical Journal: Official Publication of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin, 105(5), 50–52. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  7. Kuehn, A., Codreanu-Morel, F., Lehners-Weber, C., Doyen, V., Gomez-André, S.A. (2016). Cross-Reactivity to Fish and Chicken Meat—A New Clinical SyndromeAllergy, 71(12), 1772–1781. DOI:10.1111/all.12968. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  8. Kuehn, A., Codreanu-Morel, F., Lehners-Weber, C., Doyen, V., Gomez-André, S.A. (2016). Cross-Reactivity to Fish and Chicken Meat—A New Clinical SyndromeAllergy, 71(12), 1772–1781. DOI:10.1111/all.12968. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  9. Hemmer W, Klug C, Swoboda I. (2016). Update on the bird-egg syndrome and genuine poultry meat allergyAllergo Journal International, 25:68-75. doi:10.1007/s40629-016-0108-2. Retrieved June 28, 2021.