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Chicken Glossary: A Glossary Of The Different Chicken Types

Page 3: Chicken Terms C

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A cockerel (young male, top) and hen, both breeders—chickens used for breeding, not eggs or meat. Photo courtesy

A castrated rooster. Before it matures, the rooster is neutered to improve the flavor of its flesh. The lack of sex hormones creates meat that is less gamy, more moist and tender, and more flavorful (to some) than hen meat. The Romans invented the capon. According to A History Of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, the Lex Faunia (animal laws) of 162 B.C.E. forbade the fattening of hens, in order to conserve grain rations. Instead, clever Romans castrated young roosters (cockerels), which resulted in a doubling of size, much as eunuchs put on weight.


A baby chicken. It takes about 21 days for a chick to form and hatch from a fertilized egg. At nine weeks of age, the chick is ready to “graduate” to pullet (female) or cockerel (male).



The chicken, Gallus gallus domesticus, refers to any domesticated member of the species, male or female. It is a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus, a member of the pheasant family. A female is a hen, a male is a rooster, a baby is a chick. Chickens can live to be 20 years old, but on average they live to be about 8 years old.


Too cute to eat when they’re babies. But when they grow up, not so much (see photo at top of page). Photo courtesy
Similar to a beef burger, a burger made of ground chicken and shaped into a patty. Try these chicken burger recipes:



See cutlet, below.


  Chicken Burger
Smoked chicken burger with orange-peel aïoli. Photo courtesy McCormick. Get the recipe.
Boneless, skinless strips of white meat that are breaded and deep-fried or grilled without breading. The fingers are formed from rib meat trimmed from the breast.


A male chicken or rooster.


Call them chicken fingers, strips or tenders. Photo by Fotoos Van Robin | Wikimedia.

A male chicken younger than one year of age. See photo above.



The fleshy crown on top of a chicken’s head; usually red in color. (See photo above.)



The structure in which the chicken lives. The goal is to provide shelter from the elements, protection from animals including wild birds; and protection from cats, dogs, hawks and rodents. Nocturnal predators include fox, opossum raccoon and skunk. Many other animals love a tasty chicken.


A chicken coop. Photo courtesy

The Cornish game hen is a smaller breed of chicken that originated in Cornwall, England. It is not wild game but domesticated chicken; thus the term “game hen” is inaccurate. Another misnomer: Both male and female birds are sold as “hens.” A small bird with short legs and a plump, round breast, Cornish game hen has a subtle, delicate taste. The smaller size is perfect for two people who eat smaller portions. It is generally roasted and often stuffed to add a side to the smallish bird. In the U.S., the Cornish game hen was crossbred with the White Rock chicken to produce the Rock Cornish game hen, which comprises most of what is sold in the U.S. The bird is generally slaughtered at about a month old, when it weighs 1-1/2 to 2 pounds.

Sometimes, the term “poussin” is used in the U.S. instead of the more accurate Rock Cornish hen. A poussin is simply a young chicken (“baby chicken”), about the age and weight of a Rock Cornish game hen. Poussin refers to age and weight and can be any breed;

  Stuffed Cornish Hen
Stuffed Rock Cornish game hen. Photo courtesy
but Cornish and Rock Cornish hens are specific breeds. Terms get used erroneously in the trade—sometimes in error, sometimes in an attempt to make something sound more exciting to the consumer, sometimes because the USDA has been incorrect in its description (which happens often enough—as in the case of buffalo instead of bison and yam instead of sweet potato). This only serves to confuse consumers (and retailers, too). See also poussin.



A puff of feathers atop the heads of certain breeds, such as Houdan, Silkie and Polish. Also called a topknot.



The offspring of a hen and a rooster of two different breeds.



Boneless and skinless cubes of white meat chicken are sold for kabobs (skewers) and stir-frys. With a sharp knife, it’s easy to cut them from a whole breast.

It’s a permanent bad hair day: This breed has a puff of feathers atop her head. Photo by Eric Isselée | Fotolia.

The split (thin sliced), deboned and skinned breast of the chicken. Chicken cutlets are used for quick cooking. The cut is popular for warm chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, scallopini and baked dishes such as Chicken Parmigiana, where the cutlet is breaded and fried before it is baked (with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese). Some markets sell the inner tender of the breast as the cutlet. See the chicken cuts chart for the comparison.

NOTE: “Fillet” and “filet” refer to the same tender, boneless cut. Fillet, pronounced FIL-it, is the British spelling and pronunciation. Filet, pronounced FIL-ay, is French. Either version is correct.
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The cutlet can either be the entire breast or the inner tender, shown above. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.
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Last Updated  May 2018

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