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Turkey vs. Chicken: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 25, 2023
A turkey is a larger bird often associated with American holidays, while a chicken is a smaller bird commonly consumed worldwide.

Key Differences

Turkey and chicken are both domesticated birds that are popular sources of meat. Turkeys are generally larger, with mature males, known as toms, weighing considerably more than female chickens, known as hens. Chickens, on the other hand, are more universally consumed, and their meat is a staple in various cuisines worldwide.
Turkeys have a distinctive fan-shaped tail and a fleshy protuberance called a snood that hangs from the beak. Their meat is often the centerpiece of traditional American celebrations like Thanksgiving. Chickens are versatile in culinary applications, with various parts like the breast, thighs, and wings being used in different dishes.
While turkeys are primarily native to the Americas, they have been introduced elsewhere for farming. Wild turkeys can fly and roost in trees at night. In contrast, chickens, which have been domesticated for longer, have several breeds, some of which have lost their ability to fly long distances.
The behavior of turkeys is different from chickens. Turkeys can be more aggressive, especially the males during the breeding season. Chickens, especially hens, are often kept not just for meat but also for their ability to lay eggs, a staple in many diets.
Raising turkeys usually requires more space due to their size, and they have specific nutritional needs. Chickens, because of their smaller size and adaptability, are easier to rear in backyard settings, making them more accessible for small-scale farming and hobbyists.

Comparison Chart


Generally larger.
Smaller in comparison.

Native Region

Southeast Asia.

Culinary Use

Often whole-roasted for holidays.
Versatile; various parts used in many dishes.


More recent compared to chicken.
Ancient; many breeds available.

Economic Importance

Meat production primarily.
Meat and egg production.

Turkey and Chicken Definitions


A person or thing that is deemed a failure or disappointment.
The movie was a complete turkey at the box office.


A domesticated fowl kept for its eggs or meat.
The farmer has a coop filled with chickens.


The meat of this bird used as food.
She prepared a delicious turkey roast for the family.


A person who is considered cowardly.
He was called a chicken for not accepting the challenge.


An act of throwing three strikes in a row in bowling.
He celebrated his first turkey during the bowling championship.


The meat of this bird used as food.
She ordered a chicken sandwich for lunch.


A large bird native to North America.
The turkey is often the centerpiece at Thanksgiving dinners.


A game in which two drivers drive towards each other to see who swerves first.
The teenagers were warned about the dangers of playing chicken.


A country located between Europe and Asia.
Istanbul is a famous city in Turkey known for its rich history.


A small or petty sum of money.
For a billionaire, that amount is chicken feed.


A large North American bird (Meleagris gallopavo) that has brownish plumage and a bare wattled head and neck and is widely domesticated for food.


A common domesticated fowl (Gallus domesticus) widely raised for meat and eggs and believed to be descended from the jungle fowl G. gallus.


How is chicken commonly consumed?

Chicken is consumed in various forms worldwide, including roasted, fried, and grilled.

Are chickens good layers of eggs?

Yes, especially specific breeds optimized for egg-laying.

Do turkeys make good pets?

Some people keep them as pets, but they require space and care.

Is turkey meat healthier than chicken?

Both have health benefits, but turkey is leaner, while chicken provides more vitamins and minerals.

Why are chickens more widespread than turkeys?

Chickens are smaller, easier to rear, and have been domesticated longer than turkeys.

Do turkeys fly?

Wild turkeys can fly, but domesticated ones are generally too heavy.

Which bird is easier to raise at home?

Chickens, due to their size and adaptability.

How long does it take to cook a chicken vs. a turkey?

Chickens cook faster due to their smaller size.

Why is turkey called "turkey"?

It's believed that when Europeans first encountered them, they mistakenly thought the bird came from Turkey, the country.

Is chicken or turkey more popular worldwide?

Chicken is more universally consumed than turkey.

What is a "turkey" in bowling?

It refers to three consecutive strikes.

Can you eat turkey eggs?

Yes, but they are less commonly available than chicken eggs.

What is a "chicken" in terms of bravery?

Calling someone a "chicken" implies they are cowardly.

Where did turkeys originate?

They are native to the Americas.

What is a turkey?

A turkey is a large bird native to North America, often consumed during festive occasions.

What's the significance of turkeys in American culture?

Turkeys are traditionally eaten during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Where were chickens first domesticated?

Chickens were first domesticated in Southeast Asia.

What is the "snood" on a turkey?

It's the fleshy protuberance that hangs from a turkey's beak.

Do chickens have a similar feature to the snood?

No, chickens don't have snoods.

Can both turkey and chicken be raised organically?

Yes, both birds can be raised under organic conditions.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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