Tips & Techniques > Types and Sizes of Poultry

With all of the types of poultry out there, choosing which one to cook can be confusing.

The most important thing to understand is that the label will usually imply the age of the bird. The younger the bird, the more tender the meat will be; whereas the older the bird, the tougher the meat will be. Keep in mind, as a bird ages, its meat will develop more flavor and fat. Also, the breastbone will become harder and less flexible as the bird gets older.

The following is a list of common birds from youngest to oldest.

Rock Cornish Game Hens
These birds weigh approximately 1 to 2 pounds and are good for grilling and roasting.

Fryer or Broiler Chickens
These birds weigh approximately 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds, are quite lean and have a flexible breastbone. They are very versatile and can be cooked using nearly any cooking method.

Roaster Chickens
These birds weigh approximately 5 to 8 pounds. Since they are older than fryers or broilers, they have developed more fat and flavor. They are also very versatile and can be cooked using nearly any cooking methods; however, they make for particularly delicious roasting chickens.

These male birds have been surgically castrated and weigh approximately 6 to 10 pounds. They contain more white meat than dark meat and roast very well.

Stewing Hens
These mature, female laying hens weigh up to 8 pounds and have developed flavorful, but tough, meat. Their breastbone is not flexible. As the name implies, stewing hens are good for stewing or braising as the meat is older and tougher.