Drumette vs Drumstick: Are They the Same Cut of Chicken?

By Dylan Clay
Last Updated 
November 3, 2022

The drumstick and drumette are not the same cut from a chicken.

Anatomically speaking, the drumstick is the lower joint of the leg, where-as the drumette is the upper arm of the chicken wing.

Personally, I find drumsticks to be the best part of the chicken. In terms of wings I also tend to prefer wingettes as apposed to drumettes.

What are Drumsticks?

Drumsticks are the lower joint or the "leg" of the chicken.

drumstick

Drumsticks are rather irregular in shape - they have a thicker end that tapers into a thinner end.

The thick end connects to the upper joint or "thigh" of the chicken where-as the thinner end connects to the feet.

What are Drumettes?

On a chicken, the drumette - colloquially called the "drum" - is the upper arm of the chicken wing.

whole chicken wing anatomy

Drumettes are also irregular in shape - they'll typically have a thick end that tapers into a thinner end.

drumette or drum

The thicker end connecting to the breast and the thinner end connecting to the wingette or "flat."

The Main Confusion Lies in the Name of the Cuts

The biggest reason people confuse drumettes and drumsticks is because their names are quite similar. However, if we break down the etymology, the namesakes make more sense.

To start with, let's take a look at "drumstick":

Some etymologists believe that 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.

Similarly - breast is replaced by bosom; Thigh by upper joint; Leg by lower joint.

Looking at the word "drum-ette":

After taking French for nearly 7 years in Junior High/ High School, I know the suffix -ette is feminine. While grammatically feminine in its original language (French), in English it doesn't hold the same feminine gender-marker.

drumstick vs drumette size comparison
Drumstick pictured left, Drumette pictured right

In the English language, -ette is added to words to indicate a smaller version of something.

For example:

  • Cassette
  • Baguette
  • Kitchenette
  • Featurette
  • Flowerette
  • etc.

You get the gist.

So in the case of the "drum" - the drumette is simply a smaller version of the drumstick. Visually, they look quite similar, especially when the drumette is separated from the wingette.

With that said though, they are completely different cuts from the bird.

White Meat (Wings) vs Dark Meat (Drumsticks) Chicken

Visually, a big difference between drumettes and drumsticks is the type of meat you're eating - often people will throw around words like "white meat" and "dark meat."

The reason for the difference in color is due to myoglobin content - dark meat contains more myoglobin.

Dark meat is comprised of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Slow twitch muscles - like drumsticks and thighs - are used by the bird for extended periods of time for things like walking, sitting, and standing.

Meaning, they need a consistent energy source like oxygen to function.

The protein myoglobin stores oxygen in cells and provides muscles with oxygen required for activity. Myoglobin can have differing effects on species of animals, however, in general it's a reddish hue - hence "dark meat."

White meat is comprised of fast-twitch muscles. Chickens are flightless birds - granted they can fly to some extent, but not for extended periods of time.

Meaning, parts like the breast and wings aren't used much and require very little myoglobin. Rather, for energy these muscles use glycogen stored in muscles.

A cut of white meat like a wing will have a "glass" like quality when it's raw. Once cooked, the proteins coagulate which results in "white meat."

Major Differences Between Drumettes and Drumsticks

There are only really a few differences worth mentioning - namely cost, fat content, and method of cooking.

Cost of Drumettes and Drumsticks

In every single case, drumsticks will be cheaper than drumettes or wings (flats and drums).

Using the pricing from Wild Fork Foods:

  • Chicken wing drumettes*: $13.70/2.5 lb or $5.48 per lb
  • Chicken drumsticks: $3.03/1.25 lb or $2.42 per lb
  • Chicken wing sections (both flats and drums): $11.20/2.5 lb or $4.48 per lb

*The main reason I used Wild Fork Foods is because they actually sell Drumettes on their own - which you typically won't find in a grocery store. However, even when sold as sections (with the flat), they're still more expensive.

I should note, I personally don't buy poultry online. I've never noticed a difference between chicken from an online butcher or in my grocery store; Chicken is chicken.

Method of Cooking, Temperature Importance, and Fat Content

The biggest reason I love wings and drumsticks is because of how easy they are to cook - you'd be pretty hard pressed to mess them up.

drumsticks cooked
Drumsticks grilled and remove from a whole chicken

Truth be told, in my article on the easiest cuts of meat to smoke, whole chicken is one of the best options. Whole chicken is also one of the cheapest cuts of meat you can find.

A meat being both easy to smoke and cheap is pretty hard to come by in the Barbecue World.

On a whole chicken, the legs/thighs and wings will all finish much faster than the breast.

Typically, when I cook a whole chicken I opt to spatchcock it. When the breast hits 160-162F in the thickest part, the lower joints should be 175-190F+.

Personally, I actually prefer to have my drumsticks and wings to hit around 190F+. By that time the exterior skin has likely crisped up and the meat pulls cleanly off the bone because the collagen/connective tissue has rendered into a gelatin.

With breast meat, the reason I pull at 160-162F is because carry over cooking will increase the internal temperature to 165F so that it's considered safe to eat. However, unlike drumsticks and wings, once you start pushing the breast past 165F, it starts drying out.

Even though wings are considered "white meat," you can push these to around 190F+ simply because they have tons of skin, fat content, and collagen; Which are qualities intrinsic to dark meat.

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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