The Silkie is an incredibly versatile and unique chicken breed!
In addition to being a popular pet and show bird amongst hobby farmers, it is sometimes raised for its meat and eggs.
However, it’s somewhat rare (at least in the western world) for Silkies to be raised solely for their meat, commercially or on a smaller scale.
So, are these bizarre-looking birds good eating, or are more traditional meat breeds a better option?
Silkie chickens are edible, though they aren’t commonly eaten in most modern Western cultures. However, some Asian cultures consider Silkie’s dark black meat a delicacy with medicinal properties. Silkie meat is leaner yet more gamey and “strong” tasting than typical white meat.
Keep reading to learn more about the culinary history of this ancient breed and what its meat tastes like.
We’ll also cover how Silkie chicken meat is prepared and used in different cultures today.
Are Silkie Chickens Edible?
Silkie chickens are, in fact, just as edible as virtually any other chicken breed.
However, Silkies are very small, lean birds, so they aren’t commonly bred on a commercial scale for their meat.
Additionally, the breed’s meat is very dark greyish-blue in color.
It is widely considered tougher and “gamier” than the meat of commercial meat chickens.
Many people also compare its taste to duck meat.
It’s important to note certain chicken breeds are larger and “meatier” than others.
These other breeds are better suited to being utilized as a meat breed on a large scale.
This is mainly due to the breed’s genetics, selective breeding, and how humans in different cultures and locations have interacted with them over time.
Some traditional chicken breeds, like the Cornish Cross, are better suited to being raised as meat birds.
This is due to their large size, hardy nature, and fast growth rate.
Others, like the Leghorn, are egg-laying breeds because they are consistent layers of large, flavorful eggs.
Some breeds are bred for both purposes, while a handful of others are kept simply as pets or show birds.
Historically, Silkies have long been raised mainly as ornamental pets or show birds.
Largely, this is because of their unique, fluffy plumage and sleek, black skin.
As a result, they’ve been bred to have a specific appearance rather than to produce large amounts of meat or eggs.
Further Reading: Are Silkie eggs safe to eat?
In short, it’s possible to cook and eat Silkie meat like you would with any other breed of chicken.
Just remember it has a different taste, texture, and, of course, a unique color.
This is especially true when compared to the chicken you’d typically pick up at your local supermarket.
When Did People Start Eating Silkies? A Brief History
Unfortunately, the origins of the Silkie chicken aren’t very well understood.
Historians believe this unusual bird likely originated somewhere in ancient China, possibly as far back as the 7th century!
It’s likely the breed was first kept as an ornamental pet by a select few wealthy royals.
Many people mistakenly believed it was a “chicken with fur.”
Its feathers lacked connective fibers called barbicels.
Over time, the Silkie’s uniquely dark skin and meat became popular in traditional medicine and the culinary world.
Silkie meat, skin, and bones were believed to have medicinal properties in treating many physical and mental illnesses.
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners often offered it in various formulations, dietary supplements, and recipes.
The bones of black Silkie chickens were especially useful for this practice.
They were typically ground into a powder consumed in traditional medicines.
They were designed to treat things like chronic pain and inflammation and boost immune health.
However, in most western cultures, eating Silkie meat was widely considered unusual rather than exotic or gourmet.
Instead, larger, hardier, fast-growing breeds like the Brahma and Jersey Giant began dominating the West’s food industry.
The Silkie breed didn’t even make it to North America until the mid-1800s.
It never quite reached the same level of popularity in the culinary world it had in Asia.
Today, in much of North America and Europe, it is a fairly niche breed.
Its mainly kept as a unique-looking backyard chicken by hobby farmers rather than for its meat or eggs.
The Silkie’s dark meat is still seen by many as a rare, exotic delicacy in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean cultures, among others.
The dark and lean yet flavorful meat is still used today to create broths and for flavoring curry dishes due to its bold flavor.
Silkie chicken soup remains a staple dish even in modern Chinese cuisine.
What Does Silkie Chicken Meat Look and Taste Like?
If you plan on cooking up some Silkie meat for yourself, don’t expect it to look, smell, taste, or feel anything like the average chicken breast you normally pick up from your local big-box supermarket.
You likely won’t even be able to find Silkie meat packaged and sold at most mainstream grocery stores, at least in much of the western world.
You’ll need to either find an Asian supermarket specializing in authentic, traditional Chinese food and products or, of course, source the meat yourself from your backyard flock.
As we briefly touched, Silkie chicken meat, skin, and even the bones are all either dark grey, black, or bluish-grey due to a genetic mutation that causes hyperpigmentation or darker skin pigmentation.
The meat itself is much leaner than the meat from standard meat breeds, and many fans claim it has a bolder, more exotic taste, like a duck, rather than chicken.
Again, “gamey” is often used when describing Silkie meat.
The meat has very little fat and a much tougher texture than most other chicken meat.
Is Silkie Chicken Meat Healthy?
Interestingly, this fluffy chicken’s meat is a healthier choice overall than the meat of most other meat breeds for a few key reasons.
For starters, the meat is extremely lean and low in fat due to the birds’ small size.
It has around half the total fat and far less saturated fat than the usual white meat.
Notably, it’s also very low in cholesterol.
The Silkie’s spooky grey meat is packed with several essential vitamins and nutrients.
It’s got far more protein than white meat and is one of the richest sources of vitamins like B1, B2, B12, and E.
It’s also high in antioxidants like carnosine, which is believed to help with inflammation and even prevent certain cancers.
Finally, it’s lower overall calories than the chicken typically sold at most supermarkets.
In short, Silkie meat is leaner and healthier than the regular chicken you’re likely used to eating, so it’s worth adding to your diet if you have access to it and don’t mind its bold taste!