Chicken Wings vs. Drumsticks: Differences You Should Know

Trying to decide between chicken wings and drumsticks?

Not sure what the difference is?

Wondering why wings are so damn expensive?

Here’s a quick breakdown of chicken wings vs. drumsticks.

Chicken wings
Chicken wings are an extremely popular bar food—particularly in sports bars—and that popularity drives up the price.

Chicken Wings

Chicken wings have both an upper and lower section, known respectively as the drumette and wingette (or flat).

  • The drumette contains a single bone and actually looks like a smaller version of a drumstick.
  • The wingette, also know as a flat, has two smaller bones that run parallel to each other.

If you’re familiar with human anatomy, think about the human arm that has a single bone in the upper arm called the humerus, and two bones in the forearm called the radius and ulna. Chicken wings are similar.

Wings are usually covered in some type of sauce and then baked and served either as an appetizer or snack food. Chicken wings are a very popular food to eat for sporting events, especially if you go to a restaurant or bar to watch the game. They have a lot of protein but are usually served with the skin on, which means they can be a bit fatty.

Chicken drumsticks
Chicken drumsticks usually have more meat than wings—which is ironic, given their cheaper price.


Drumsticks are the lower section of the chicken leg, separated from the thigh. Drumsticks are often more affordable than wings. Like wings, drumsticks have a lot of protein and B vitamins. They can be prepared in a variety of ways and are perfect for grilling. You can fry, bake, or barbecue your drumsticks, and they are often served with a buffalo or Cajun sauce. You can even roast drumsticks alongside your vegetables.

Similarities and Differences

Whether you choose drumsticks or wings, you can expect each piece of chicken to contain roughly 10 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein for every serving. Drumsticks tend to have more meat in them and a few less calories and saturated fats than wings do. If you’re watching your cholesterol, it’s best to choose drumsticks because they have less cholesterol than wings.

Chicken wings
Chicken wings

For every 100 grams of meat, here are the numbers for a chicken wing versus a drumstick:

Calcium12 mg8 mg
Sodium374 mg106 mg
Protein22.6 g18 g
Fat16.7 g9.2 g

A drumstick is also sometimes called a chicken leg, and it is lower in calories, lower in sodium, and lower in fat than a chicken wing is. Yet there is more calcium and more protein in a wing than there is in a drumstick. You’ll have to decide for yourself which feature is most important to you before choosing either drumsticks or wings.

Can You Make Chicken Wings With Drumsticks?

You can absolutely make drumsticks in the style of chicken wings. In fact, with the higher meat-to-bone ratio, your family or guests might like the drumsticks better. The key is to coat them with a good sauce and serve them with a conventional dipping sauce on the side. Here’s a recipe for buffalo chicken drumsticks to get you started.

Cost of Chicken Wings vs. Drumsticks

Drumsticks cost around $1.20 per pound on average, while wings tend to cost around $2.40 per pound. Prices will vary according to demand, the state of the industry, and your region, but you can almost always expect drumsticks to cost a fraction of the price of wings.

Why Are Chicken Wings More Expensive Than Drumsticks?

Chicken wings are more expensive than drumsticks because they’re more popular. Believe it or not, wings were once considered trash pieces of the chicken and were typically used for making stocks. Then Buffalo wings were “invented”—supposedly in 1964 in Buffalo, New York, hence the name—and they gained in popularity as a bar food across the U.S. and Canada during the ’70s and ’80s.

Football is also to blame: People eat a lot of wings on Sundays. Higher demand means higher prices.

Which One Should You Choose?

You can find tons of recipes for both drumsticks and wings. Football games, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and buffet dinners are just a few of the events made better by these food items. Both are cooked quickly and taste even better with a little barbecue or teriyaki sauce on them.

Chicken drumsticks
Chicken drumsticks

If you’re trying to decide between the two, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Wings tend to cost roughly twice as much as drumsticks.
  • Drumsticks offer a higher meat-to-bone ratio, so if you want to serve a lot of meat, drumsticks are the way to go.
  • There are other healthy, inexpensive types of chicken pieces to choose from, including boneless chicken breast, chicken leg quarters, and bone-in chicken thighs.

If you just want something that tastes good for your next get-together, both drumsticks and wings are fine choices either way. They can be prepared in all kinds of ways, and they contain a lot of B vitamins, which are good for energy.

Are Drumsticks and Wings Bad for You?

Both drumsticks and wings are extremely tasty and fairly healthy for you. It’s easier to make drumsticks healthier than wings, because you can more easily remove the skin and make them less fatty.

While some people claim that both of these meats are bad for you, that’s not really true. It largely comes down to how you prepare them. For example, if you bake the chicken instead of frying it and you avoid sauces and seasonings with high sugar content, your wings/drumsticks will be a lot healthier.