Yes, we raise our own chickens, and yes, we use everything but the cluck around here! Someone once asked, “What do you do with the chicken FEET?”
Why Should You Eat Chicken Feet?
There are a lot of really good reasons to eat chicken feet. First, it allows you to use every inch of the bird, with practically zero waste. You likely already boil your chicken bones down into stock – or, if you’re really thrifty, you do that and also grind them up afterwards to be used as bone meal in the garden. If you’re already composting the feathers or using them for crafts or fabric filler, you probably only have the feet left.
Chicken feet don’t technically contain any meat, because they are comprised of zero actual muscle and only contain skin and tendons. As a result, the “meat” is very gelatinous, which is popular in Asian cuisine. Not so much in America.
Chicken feet may have an acquired texture, but the taste is not bad at all. Chicken feet taste like…well, chicken! When served in Asian cuisine, they are usually simmered with a combination of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and other Asian seasons to make them pretty tasty.
And it’s not just Asian cuisine where chicken feet are commonly eaten – they can be found in recipes from Jamaica, South Africa, Trinidad, and handful of South American countries, too.
They can be a challenge to eat, though – you’ll have to really just gnaw until you’re down to the bone. However, the taste and nutritional value of chicken feet definitely make them worth the extra effort!
They’re pretty good for you, as far as “meats” go. Chicken feet have lots of collagen, making them a good go-to food if you want to improve the appearance and health of your skin. Collagen also improves your joint health, meaning it can improve your athletic performance and reduce inflammation. It’s also great for weight loss.
As a result, there are some beauty companies that use chicken feet cartilage to make their collagen peptide complexes! It can help heal issues like skin dryness and fine lines, so instead of buying collagen supplements at the store, you might just want to eat them instead.
Chicken feet, which usually only have about 200 calories per serving, are also high in the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B12
You asked, so here’s what to do with chicken feet…
How to Clean Chicken Feet
Head to tail animal processing is a common process in most areas of the world, but did you know that, in the United States, most feet from factory farmed chickens is exported to China?
There’s no need for you to dispose of your chicken feet. Not only do chicken feet add a nice rich, creamy texture to stock, but they also allow you to use up every inch of the bird.
However, you shouldn’t toss them in there as soon as you’ve cut up your bird. You need to take some extra steps in order toe ensure you aren’t passing any diseases on through your cooking.
Cleaning chicken feet doesn’t take long at all. You can have a dozen all ready within less than thirty minutes. I recommend cleaning them before you freeze them, if you decide to store them that way, because you don’t want to forget to do it later.
First, wash the feet. You don’t need to use any fancy soaps or detergent, but make sure they get nice and clean. Soaking can help remove excess dirt, as can some gentle scrubbing.
Boil some water and then drop the feet in for thirty seconds. Use tongs to remove them and then peel them to remove the top layer of scaly skin as well as the nails. It’s sometimes easiest to start at the nails and then work up to the knee joint. You won’t be able to use the outer nail and skin, so you should throw those out.
Remember, washing your chicken feet is important if you plan on eating them. Think about all the chicken manure your chickens have traipsed through! Don’t ever eat the feet of a chicken who was sick in any way, just as you should avoid eating the meat from a contaminated bird. If you don’t know how it died, don’t eat it.
Chicken Feet Soup Stock
My most often use for chicken feet is making an awesome stock with them. They are full of condroiton that is so good for you. Gut healing and joint nourishing at the same flavorful time.
Here’s how to make a great stock from chicken feet.
- Start with a bag of chicken feet. We were lucky enough to raise our own, thus having 26 pairs at our disposal. You can always ask a local chicken farmer, or where you get eggs.
- Put them in a pot of boiling water for about 5-10 minutes to make sure they are clean and to help loosen up the pads.
- Cut away any bad parts on the pads of the feet. You want to use a really sharp knife to avoid it slipping, and possibly cutting yourself.
- Put the cleaned chicken feet back in the pot with fresh water.
- Toss in a couple of carrots, a few celery stalks, some salt, pepper, a clove of garlic or two and a bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10-12 hours. This can be done on the stove top or you can use a crockpot on low.
- Drain the broth in a large colander with a towel or cheesecloth. Allow the broth to cool completely.
- The chickens get the rest of the scraps, including the feet. They will actually pick the bones clean, then they can go in our compost since they are soft from being boiled all night.
And, when it’s cool, you have lots of yummy, gelatiny broth to use for soups, gravies, sauces, cooking rice, or teasing your children about! See my post here on how to can broth for longer storage.
Deep-Fried Chicken Feet
To be honest, chicken feet don’t have a lot of meat on them, which is why they’re best suited to being used in a stock. However, there are a few recipes you can try to get the most out of your chicken feet, too, besides the broth.
Deep-fried chicken feet makes good use of this oft-ignored body part. They’re easy to make – all you need to do is simmer them first in a water bath with some garlic, sugar, soy sauce, and cinnamon. This will tenderize them and make them easier to fry.
They can be made with a batter for a delicious crunch like fried chicken, or they can be fried up in a manner similar to pork cracklings, without all the breading.
You will need these ingredients:
• A pound of chicken feet (if you have less just alter the ingredients in the recipe to suit your desired weight)
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 Tbsp soy sauce
• 1 Tbsp sugar
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 beaten eggs (for breading)
• 1 cup flour (for breading)
• 1 quart oil
Make sure you clip the toenails from the feet and wash them thoroughly before you begin. You don’t want any nasty calluses or bacteria hanging around! Let your feet simmer in a hot bath on the stove for about two hours.
When they’re nice and tender, remove them and let them cool. Make your batter, if desired, and dip your chicken feet. Then fry them in a pan and serve immediately.
Dim Sum Chicken Feet
Chicken feet are a common food in China – they don’t have nearly as many misconceptions about eating this part of the bird as we do!
While making Dim Sum chicken feet is kind of tricky, it’s a unique use for this food that you have to try some time.
Here’s how you do it.
Start by clipping the claws off the chicken feet. As with any other recipe, you’ll want to make sure the feet are extremely clean. Cut the larger main bone off and divide the foot into two pieces.
Boil some water in a pot, adding about half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. You can also add half a teaspoon of rice vinegar, which will reduce the likelihood of a dark, strange color. Cook the feet for two minutes and then drain the liquid. Then, add a tablespoon of soy sauce and let the feet marinate.
Put the mixture in a deep pan after about thirty minutes of marinating. There, you will want to cook them until they are nice, hot, and fried. Once they are ready, you can transfer them to cold water and let them soak overnight. This will get the wrinkles out and loosen up the texture so they are a better consistency. You can add the rest of the ingredients as a glaze during the braising process.
When you find this recipe served in restaurants, it’s often served alongside soaked peanuts. Sometimes restaurants will steam the chicken feet instead of frying them, too, but this method seems to be a little more time-effective.
These are the ingredients you will need to have on hand for this recipe:
- 10 chicken feet
- Oil of your choosing (preferably olive oil)
- Ice water (for soaking)
- 1 clove of garlic (you can substitute with minced)
- 1 green onion
- 1 chili pepper
- ½ inch root ginger
- ½ Tbsp soy sauce
- ¼ Tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 star anise
- ½ cup warm water for braising
Feed Chicken Feet to Your Dog
If you have a pup that has a hard time chewing on harder bones, you might want to give them a chicken foot to gnaw on. Since these are mostly cartilage and joints, instead of actual bone, your dog might have an easier time munching on them. Just keep an eye on your dog once he gets it whittled down a bit – you don’t want to risk any choking hazards.
You can also make dehydrated chicken feet for your dog. These are readily available for purchase on Amazon, but why buy them when you already have some on hand after butchering your meat birds?
Dehydrated chicken feet are a great source of collagen and chondroitin and can help dogs who have joint problems. They’ll love snacking on them, too, and it will be a treat you won’t feel guilty about feeding your dog!
Save Them for Later
Ok, we get it – you might not be totally ready to start cooking with chicken feet. And you don’t have to! IF you want, you can easily store your chicken feet for later. All you need to do is toss them in a Ziplock bag, BPA-free container, or sealable freezer back. Toss them in the freezer, and when you want to make stock or one of the other recipes, you’ll be all ready to go with your chicken feet on hand – or…foot?
Compost your Chicken Feet
You can, of course, always compost your chicken feet, too. Keep in mind that they will take a long time to break down – and you may want to work them into a compost pile that is already nice and hot for best results. Otherwise, you risk attracting predators to your property with the scent of decaying chicken feet.
Do you ever use chicken feet to make broth or one of these other unique creations? How else would you use chicken feet? Be sure to pin this for later!
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.