Drum vs Flat: The Wingette and the Drumette

By Dylan Clay
Last Updated 
August 29, 2022

If there's one thing that folks who love chicken wings fight over, it's which part is best - the drum or the flat.

The wingette or "flat" is the lower wing. The wingette is colloquially called the "flat" due to its even/flat appearance. It contains less meat and more bones than the drum and is more "cleanly" eaten.

The drumette or "drum" is the upper wing. The drumette is colloquially called the drum because it resembles a smaller version of the drumstick (part of the leg). Drums contain more meat and cartilage than flats.

Which is best really boils down to personal preference. Personally, I love flats where-as my friends like Drums.

A Quick Anatomical Guide to Chicken Wings

"Higher animals" or animals that have reached an advanced stage of development - like chickens - have body plans that are similar to that of homo sapiens (humans).

They have 4 limbs, a head, eyes, ears, and torso.

In terms of the wing, they have an upper arm with a bicep and tricep muscle and a humerus bone, forearms comprised of muscles with radius and ulna bones, and a hand with carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges; They even have an alula which is the equivalent of a human thumb.

whole chicken wing anatomy

The short of it: Every chicken has two wings and a whole chicken wing is comprised of three parts: A wingette, a drumette, and a wingtip. Both of which are comprised of various musculature, tendons, bones, etc.

The Wingette or "Flat"

The wingette, colloquially referred to as the "flat", is essentially the forearm of a chicken wing or the middle of the wing.

flat or wingette

It's called the flat because that's how it looks; It features two parallel bones - the radius and ulna - that run the length of the flat. The muscles that comprise the forearm then lay flat along the bones.

They contain less meat than the drum and have more bones.

People who like flats will cite the overall "eating experience" as their reasoning. The meat is more cleanly eaten, there is less tendons and cartilage which results in a tender mouth feel, and they can be easily dipped.

When wings are trimmed, most of the cartilage is left in the drum and wingtips around the joint ends. Meaning, the wingette meat is far easier to remove from the bones.

The Drumette or "Drum"

The drumette, colloquially referred to as the "drum" is essentially the upper arm of the chicken wing.

drumette or drum

The drumette is called the "drum" because it looks like a smaller version of the drumstick - which is part of the leg. The drumstick has a thicker end that tapers to a thin end; The drumette looks the same way.

Note: Some etymologists believe the word "drumstick" was used to describe the leg because phrases like "thigh" or "leg" weren't polite words to use in the 18th century.

In much the same way, breast is replaced by bosom; Thigh by upper joint; Leg by lower joint, etc.

Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman - Grammarphobia

Similarly, people who like drums will also cite the eating experience as their reasoning. The drum is more "fun" to eat, it contains more meat as well as cartilage. When drums and flats are separated from one another, the cartilage is left in the drum and removed from the flat.

Drumettes are rather irregular in shape - they have a thick and a thinner end. Due to being bigger, they're also great for dipping. In some cases, some folks just use wings as a vehicle to eat a dipping sauce like ranch or blue cheese - drums being larger make for a better dipping experience.

Wingtip?

The wingtip or flapper is essentially the hand of the wing. It contains the carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges (wrist, long bones of the hand, and fingers)

wingtip or flapper

Wingtips don't contain a significant amount of meat to enjoy eating. They're essentially all skin, bones, and cartilage.

I know some folks do quite enjoy crunching on wing tips, sucking the juices out of them, and eating the skin. There is usually at least one Friend or Family member who likes them (like Me!).

In most cases, the wingtips are simply removed and discarded. However, they do work quite well for making stocks.

If you're buying "Party wings" - which are prepared/separated wings - the wingtip is left out of the package because it's essentially "waste" meat domestically. Most folks aren't keen on paying for food they can't eat.

In these cases, the wingtip is typically exported to Asian countries.

Dylan Clay
I've grilled and smoked meat for roughly half my life. While i'm not a professional Pitmaster, I've worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands on guide to teach them BBQ. It's my hope that Barbecue FAQ can be that helping hand.

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