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?”
When most people think about chicken feet, the first thing that comes to mind is a pair of shoes. But for homesteaders, chicken feet are a valuable resource. Here are some of the things you can do with them.
Chicken feet are high in collagen and have anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used to make natural skin care products like face masks and moisturizers.
Chicken feet can also be boiled down and used as a gelatinous thickener in soups and stews. And finally, they can be fed to chickens to help improve their egg production.
So next time you get a bag of chicken feet from the butcher, don’t just toss them out – there’s plenty of use for them!
Table of Contents
Why Should You Eat Chicken Feet?
When most people think about chicken feet, the first thing that comes to mind is a pair of shoes. But for homesteaders, chicken feet are a valuable resource. Here are some of the things you can do with them.
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 composed 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 a 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
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 are 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 to 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.
Tips for Peeling Chicken Feet
Chicken feet are a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes, but they can be difficult to prepare.
The skin is tough and full of connective tissue, making it tricky to get a good peel. Here are a few tips to help you get the perfect peel every time.
First, make sure the chicken feet are clean and dry. If they’re wet, the skin will slip and you won’t be able to get a good peel.
Next, use a sharp knife to score the skin around the ankle joint. This will help you get started peeling without tearing the skin.
Finally, take your time peeling away the skin. Start at the ankle joint and work your way down, using your fingers to loosen the skin as you go. With a little practice, you’ll be able to peel chicken feet like a pro!
Chicken Feet Recipes
Chicken Feet Soup Stock
My most often use for chicken feet is making awesome stock with them. They are full of chondroitin 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, gelatinous broth to use for soups, gravies, sauces, cooking rice, or teasing your children about!
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 make good use of this often-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.
Hot and Spicy Chicken Feet Recipe
For those who enjoy the challenge of spicy food, hot and spicy chicken feet are a delicious way to test your limits.
While the exact ingredients can vary, the dish typically features chicken feet that have been simmered in a sauce made with chili peppers, garlic, and ginger.
The result is a dish that is both fiery and flavorful, with a texture that is both chewy and satisfying.
While it may not be for everyone, those who enjoy spice will find that hot and spicy chicken feet are a delightful way to add some heat to their meal.
Here’s a recipe for you to try.
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
More Chicken Feet Recipes
Here are a few more chicken feet recipes for you to enjoy.
- Chicken Feet and Fermented Bamboo Shoot Red Curry
- Kerabu Kaki Ayam
- Mushroom Chicken Feet Noodle Soup
- Spicy Chicken Feet Adobo
- Vanilla Stew Chicken Feet
- Tausi Chicken Feet
- Fish Soup With Tofu
- Chicken “Paws”
- Thai Rice Stick Soup With Chicken Feet
- Nasi Tim Ayam With Chicken Feet
- Thai Green Chicken Curry with Chicken Feet
Tips for Eating Chicken Feet
While chicken feet may not be the most attractive food, they are actually quite delicious. The skin is usually quite tender, and the bones add a nice crunch. Here are a few tips for how to eat chicken feet.
Proper Cooking Temperature
It is important to cook chicken feet properly in order to avoid foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend cooking chicken feet until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
This temperature will kill any harmful bacteria that may be present on the chicken feet.
To ensure that chicken feet are cooked to the proper temperature, it is best to use a meat thermometer. insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken foot and check the temperature.
If the chicken feet are not cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, they should be returned to the oven and cooked for longer.
When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and cook chicken feet longer, rather than risk eating undercooked chicken.
Use Your Hands or Chopsticks (Not a Fork)
Chicken feet may not be the most visually appetizing food, but they can be quite tasty. And, with a little practice, they’re not that difficult to eat. The best way to eat chicken feet is to use your hands or chopsticks (not a fork). This will give you the best grip!
Save the Footpad for Last
Start by biting the joints and then sucking the meat off the bone. Save the footpad for last. Some people find it helpful to dip the chicken feet in sauce before eating them.
Others prefer to season them after they’ve been cooked. However you eat them, chicken feet can be a delicious and fun food to enjoy.
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?
Use Them in Cosmetics
While you might not find chicken feet to be the most appetizing food, they actually have a number of beauty benefits. Chicken feet are high in collagen, which is essential for maintaining healthy skin.
Collagen helps to keep skin firm and elastic, and it can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, chicken feet have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe irritated skin.
As a result, they can be used to make natural skin care products like face masks and moisturizers.
To make a simple moisturizer, boil chicken feet in water until they are soft, then puree them with a little bit of coconut oil. For a more sophisticated face mask, mix pureed chicken feet with Clay and Manuka honey.
Applied to the face, this mask will help to draw out impurities and leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.
So don’t be afraid to get creative with your beauty routine – chicken feet just might be the secret ingredient you’ve been looking for.
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.
Chicken Feet: Versatile, Nutritious, and Delicious
If you’re looking for a new way to prepare chicken feet, or just want to know what else you can do with them, give these recipes a try.
They’ll show you how versatile this part of the bird can be. And if you have any other favorite chicken foot recipes, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section below. Enjoy!
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.
23 thoughts on “What to Do With Chicken Feet”
Very interesting. I raise chickens also, but I’m just not sure I could handle using the legs. I know they get cleaned, but I just think of all the nasty stuff they step in!! Haha. Very impressed how you use everything tho. 🙂
And I had to laugh…yes the chickens will pick their friends bones clean. The disgusting little cannibals! Ha! 😉
You’re more brave than I! I have always wondered what to do with chicken feet. The picture of your husband is a hoot. Thanks for sharing.
I’m a huge fan of feet broth myself. So gelatinous and rich and oh my goodness just perfect for a cold winter day soup.
Usually people hear “Chicken feet” and go “EWWWWWWWW”, but you hit the nail on the head! All the chicken flavor without wasting anything… but how do you use the beak? 😉
chicken beaks are really great for jewelry 🙂
That’s crazy! I’ve honestly never thought about chicken feet, but it’s pretty awesome that you pretty much put the ENTIRE chicken to good use. Very cool 🙂
Love this! We always give our chickens their carcass, including the feet. Makes for better eggs!
This has been an enlightening read, but I think I’d rather not know what’s in my soup. 🙂
totally understand that one….my hubby and kids feel the same way 😉
My sis-in-love has shared stories of playing with the chicken feet when she was growing up-pulling the tendons to make them move, for one thing. Eww. Although we had chickens, too, we didn’t do that.
The thing that first came to my mind when reading this, however, was the time we were eating at our local Chinese restaurant. I was seated where I had a clear view of the grandma of the family who own it, gnawing away on chicken feet, seemingly enjoying it thoroughly. It didn’t help my appetite a bit.
You’ve got me wondering now just what is in my egg drop soup when I eat there…
Chicken/duck/turkey feet also make great dog treats! I have bags of them in my freezer for our farm dog. I just give them to him as is. We use the organs and necks to make dog food. The feathers, head, and digestive tract go into the compost. Everything has a purpose… :o)
My mother’s family actually used to eat them. I remember one time we had “chicken and rice” and it was chicken “FEET” and rice. Took me a long time to get over them. The first year we had our own chickens, my husband’s Phillipino friend helped us butcher and all he wanted was the feet. So, to each their own. We are getting chickens again this year for the first time in several years (we moved) and I am still on the fence of using or tossing the feet. Great idea about making broth with them.
I save my chicken bones to make broth this way. Then I pressure can it for long time storage.
I am loving your website. I just came across it today. I would love to subscribe to receive emails or even follow you on facebook, but I am not seeing any other follow options than the RSS Feed…..which doesn’t seem to work either. Am I over looking a subscribe button somewhere?
Nevermind….I found it! Duh! Must have been a blonde moment for me 🙂
They are widely available in the supermarkets here and generally bought for human consumption, but I use them for dog food. They are very high in glucosamine and chondrotin when eaten raw (which is OK for dogs) and a great help with arthritis and other joint problems.
I’ve fried them in oil and taken them in a pretty basket to Halloween parties before. They twist up and get all gnarly when they’re fried, and make for a great conversation starter! Someone (ahem) usually gets inebriated enough to chew on one.
now THAT’s an idea!! 😉
I like to cook them with black bean sauce and eat them. They are like chicken wings with less meat.
And sooo very good for your teeth, Heather!
Toothpicks. You forgot to mention they make great toothpicks. But don’t plan on kissing anybody within view. 😉
I was wondering how much fodder do you give to each duck each day? I have 2 city ducks that don’t get much dirt play time. I have a baby pool and play area. I give them organic baby lettuce and layer kibble and meal worms daily. She gets oyster shells also. I’m wanting to grow my own greens this spring. I think fodder would be great! I don’t want to grow to much and it become hay or rot. Help!!
We have 7 ducks, 9 chickens and 5 rabbits. Between them all, we give them about 6 feet worth of fodder daily. The ducks live in the same barn as the chickens, so it’s hard for me to to say how much ducks themselves get. To avoid waste, you CAN just give them about a cups worth of fodder every day or every other day to see how much they are eating. Of course, remember that it can also go into the compost pile at the end of it’s use. Hope that helps!
I live in Africa. In the frozen section of the supermarket here you can buy a product called walkie talkie. Yes frozen head and feet. What do you make with this I wonder. Any thoughts?