The Best Part of the Chicken (That You’re Probably Throwing Out)

Nope, it's not the bones.

October 24, 2018

This one goes out to all the roast-chicken carvers. You know who you are. While others are setting the table or tossing the salad or asking you, “Hey, is the chicken ready yet?” you are at the cutting board, apron on, knife in hand. For this, you deserve a pat on the back, glass of wine, and some oysters.

Not those oysters. Chicken oysters.

I first read about these on a newish website called, ahem, Food52, years before I started working here. Our co-founders Amanda and Merrill were bolstering my chicken-carving confidence, as they do. Then, mid-video, they mentioned this lil’ secret:

After you’ve removed the legs and breasts (cue the video at 1:49), “You want to flip the bird over, so that you can find the oyster,” Merrill says. “Which is the best part of the whole chicken.” I’m listening. “It’s just that little piece of meat that’s right next to the spine,” Merrill continues. “And it’s about the size of a plump oyster,” Amanda adds.

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Top Comment:
“does anyone have any recipe ideas for the chicken oyster? 😂i live alone so i don't really roast chickens ever but i do sometimes buy a whole chicken and break it apart to prepare it different ways throughout the week”
— So S.

Though small, the two chicken oysters are some of the juiciest, tenderest meat on the whole bird. Like other juicy, tender meat (hello, thighs), they’re dark by nature. Located on the back, on either side of the spine toward the thighs, they’re sneakily hidden, making them the carver’s to enjoy: “I don’t tell anyone about them,” Amanda says. (Seems like a lot of people are doing this—no one told me for years!)

Our Senior Lifestyle Editor Hana Asbrink is also an oyster devotee. In a recent chicken-carving tutorial, she also points out these hidden gems (at 2:50):

Hana calls them “the chef’s or cook’s treat.” After she removes them from the carcass—this is easy to do by hand—she declares, “That’s for you to eat.” For you! The chicken carver. Unless you want to share one with me. There are two, after all.

Have you ever tried a chicken oyster before? Are you as obsessed as we are? Share your thoughts below!

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


hestia March 13, 2022
my mother was an avid home cook. she told me about them and would share them with me.
So S. November 12, 2018
does anyone have any recipe ideas for the chicken oyster? 😂i live alone so i don't really roast chickens ever but i do sometimes buy a whole chicken and break it apart to prepare it different ways throughout the week
iriscrowe October 27, 2018
I cook it so I get the oyster. It is right up there with rabbit livers.
Barnett F. October 25, 2018
My mother called those the kings oysters. My own kids used to argue over them. How to get them to stop? I'd eat them first!
Emma L. October 25, 2018
Ha! To the carver go the oysters.
cranberry October 25, 2018
Lucky for me I am the only one in our household who knows about the oysters...and the only one who reads Food 52, so the secret is safe!
Emma L. October 25, 2018
Keep it secret, keep it safe!
Risottogirl October 24, 2018
Sot-l'y-laisse in French!
Limely October 25, 2018
I love the meaning, "only the fool leaves!" :'D
Limely October 24, 2018
I've never actually searched for the oysters, but in the French film Amélie (a favorite of mine), there's a scene in which a man is described by his likes and dislikes in life, and one of his favorite things to do is to roast a chicken and eat the oysters before any other part of the carcass, which he does with gusto in said scene. :)

Maybe the French know more than most of we Americans about how to eat a chicken! :D
Emma L. October 25, 2018
Whoa! Will have to watch that.
Limely October 25, 2018
Oh man, such a great film. It's definitely dated now as it's from '01, but it was my favorite in high school (I'm 31 now).
Claudia T. November 2, 2018
Yes! I ate them before but I didn't know there was a specific name for them until this movie.
Greg October 24, 2018
Yup. My dad always pointed out the oysters, a humble foodie of modest means, way ahead of his time, in the 60s and 70s.
Frank D. October 24, 2018
My mother told me the secret 50 years ago. We fought over them when we were kids
Suzy S. October 24, 2018
If you think chicken oysters are good, wait 'til you try TURKEY oysters (swoon)!
Emma L. October 25, 2018
Oo! Luckily, a roast turkey is headed my way (checks calendar) in less than a month!