This America's Test Kitchen recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken with "Roasted" Garlic Sauce has the ingredient:

bone-in split chicken breasts, skin and ribs removed, trimmed of all visible fat

The skin and ribs are never used in the recipe.

ATK generally does a great job of simplifying recipes but needing to de-bone the chicken rather than simply buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts seems silly. Plus, I generally find bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts to be harder to find than boneless, skinless chicken.

I asked my butcher if there's a difference between them doing it and doing it myself and he said that there wasn't (assuming they're never used).

Is there something my butcher didn't think of?

Yes, I know that there's a cost difference but let's ignore that, as that's not generally a consideration in ATK recipes.

  • To me in the US it seems that boneless, skinless chicken breasts are becoming much more popular. In some stores it is all you find. Not sure where all the bones and skin goes, but there must be some value in in it. To me (visual opinion only) I think they add water to the boneless ones, and to me they don't cook quite the same as the bone-in ones. Maybe its a traditionalist recipe from before skinless chickens were popular, but I don't think boneless chicken you buy in the store is exactly the same as bone-in after removing the skin and bones.
    – user3169
    Nov 5, 2016 at 5:52
  • However it is possible that a butcher might not follow such mass production methods.
    – user3169
    Nov 5, 2016 at 5:53
  • 2
    The meat isn't absolutely boneless. The breast bone would remain.
    – MaxW
    Nov 5, 2016 at 17:06
  • 3
    I wonder if it wasn't an oversight/editing error - The first sentence in description refers to "bone-in chicken". To me it looks like they were lightening up an existing recipe and did a poor job of editing.
    – Debbie M.
    Nov 5, 2016 at 18:19
  • 1
    @AndrewMattson I'd consider that if there weren't hundreds of recipes on their site that use boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
    – Catija
    Nov 9, 2016 at 21:37

2 Answers 2


Bone in = the breast plate is still there. The ribs would typically be removed because in slow cooking the rib bones often have a habit of coming loose and being an annoyance or even a choking hazard while adding little or nothing to the taste. Leaving the breast plate however is referred to by many as cooking on the crown. Cooking on the crown is considered by many to give a better flavor, be it poultry, beef, pork, or whatever. Additional, with slow cooking, the cartilage and bone may add some thickening effect to your broth.


The recipe writer probably only had bone in chicken, and wrote up exactly what he did, avoiding having to buy a boneless chicken and retest the recipe.

While this sounds facetious, it probably is often the reason for "awkward" ingredients in recipes - and preferrable to writing a substitute into a recipe and still calling it a tested recipe.

  • 1
    We aren't talking about a recipe blogger or something like that... It's a group that is well regarded for testing and retesting recipes to get one "best", easily reproducible recipe.
    – Catija
    Nov 8, 2016 at 14:28
  • A recipe blogger would often go for the worse choice and fudge. But somebody testing his recipes conscientously well will be under even more pressure to limit variables in order not to have to test 2 to the power of variations :) Nov 8, 2016 at 15:04
  • Are you aware of what America's Test Kitchen is? It's not somebody... It's a team of many food specialists working together... They have a tv show on PBS, a magazine, probably over 100 books. This isn't some cut-rate person in their home kitchen.
    – Catija
    Nov 8, 2016 at 15:07
  • My diction was unashamedly facetious, but my point was that there still needs to be a limit to variation for clean testing... Nov 8, 2016 at 15:42

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