Ask the Dietitians

Skin-on or Skin-off?

To reduce the fat in chicken, do you have to cook it without the skin or can I leave the skin on?

Chicken skin holds in moisture during cooking. Unfortunately, most of the saturated fat in chicken is found just beneath the skin. Cooking chicken without the skin — especially white chicken — can make it very dry. It absolutely requires a marinade or cooking technique that includes liquids during cooking, like stewing or braising, so that the chicken can cook thoroughly without tasting like shoe leather. One option is to cook the chicken with the skin intact to hold in moisture and remove it before eating. This has been shown to be nearly as low in fat as cooking the chicken without the skin, as long as the drippings aren’t used for gravy. To further reduce the fat, pat your chicken breast dry with a paper towel. Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, is an international columnist and a speaker on the subjects of nutrition, sports and fitness.