Chicken vs Beef: The Great Cooking Time Debate

Weeknight dinners often come down to a choice between chicken or beef. Both are tasty, versatile proteins, but when time is tight, which cooks up faster for your meal? Grab a timer, because we’re settling this poultry vs beef cook-off once and for all!

As a busy home cook, I’ve spent many nights deciding between whipping up chicken or searing some steak for a quick dinner. While I love them both, efficiency is key when you’re racing against the clock.

After years of trial runs, I’ve got definitive answers on what cooks faster – chicken or beef. From whole roasts to cutlets, we’ll compare cooking times so you can get dinner on the table ASAP. Ready, set, cook!

Whole Chicken vs Whole Beef Roast

When cooking an entire bird or roast, chicken definitely cooks faster. A whole 3-5 lb chicken takes only about 1 hour to fully roast at 350°F.

For a 3-5 lb beef roast like prime rib or tenderloin you’ll need around 1.5-2 hours at 350°F for medium doneness. The chicken will be ready 30 mins – 1 hour sooner.

Winner: Chicken

Chicken Breasts vs Beef Tenderloin

For quick weeknight meals, boneless chicken breasts are a go-to. But how do they stack up to tenderloin, the fastest cooking beef cut?

A 6-8 oz chicken breast needs only 8-12 minutes to sauté or grill. Meanwhile a 6 oz beef tenderloin steak requires 10-15 mins for medium rare. It’s a close call but chicken breasts still have a slight edge.

Winner: Chicken

Chicken Thighs vs Flank Steak

For chicken parts, juicy boneless thighs are ideal for weeknight dinners. But flank steak is another quick-cooking beef favorite.

Chicken thighs need 12-15 minutes in a skillet or grill pan. Flank steak is slightly speedier at 8-12 minutes for medium doneness. For this round, beef pulls ahead for fastest cooking time.

Winner: Beef

Chicken Cutlets vs Skirt Steak

Pounded chicken cutlets cook lightning fast, but what about their beef counterpart – skinny skirt steak?

Chicken cutlets take just 3-4 minutes per side in a pan. Skirt steak needs 6-8 mins per side for medium rare. Chicken cutlets are the easy weeknight winner here.

Winner: Chicken

Chicken Wings vs Beef Short Ribs

For appetizers and party food, chicken wings and short ribs are both flavorful options. But wings require much less time.

Chicken wings bake for 40-50 mins at 400°F. Short ribs need a good 1.5-2 hours of braising for fall-off-the-bone tenderness. Wings win by a landslide for speed.

Winner: Chicken

Ground Chicken vs Ground Beef

Finally, for shaped patty meals, how does ground chicken stack up against ever-popular ground beef?

A 6 oz chicken burger patty sears up in just 6-8 minutes. A 6 oz beef burger patty needs at least 8-10 minutes for a juicy medium. Once again, chicken has the faster cook time.

Winner: Chicken

Cooking Time Isn’t Everything

While chicken may clock in with shorter cook times across several cuts and methods, speed isn’t the only important factor.

Beef’s longer cooking period means you can infuse tons of flavor into a pot roast or brisket with spices, broths, and sauces over low, slow heat.

And for naturally tender high-end cuts like filet mignon, ribeye, or strip steak, quick searing gives incredible results.

So while chicken cooks faster overall, don’t count beef out for flavorful, satisfying meals with the right techniques and recipes. Knowledge of cut-specific cooking times for both is key.

The Verdict: Chicken Cooks Faster

When all is said and done across common cuts and preparations, chicken emerges as the faster cooking protein compared to beef.

Especially for quick weeknight meals, lean whole chicken and boneless breasts, thighs, and cutlets deliver dinner in a hurry.

However, fast-cooking beef cuts like tenderloin, skirt, or ground beef can also fit the bill when you’re in a rush. Just adjust the cooking method and meal style to suit the cut.

Armed with this intel, you can now choose chicken or beef for dinner confidently knowing exactly how long they’ll take. Get those aprons on and meal prep like a boss! What will you cook up tonight?

Why I Cook Meat Straight from the Freezer (& why you should too)


Does chicken cook faster than beef?

Why does beef cook faster than chicken? Beef is often cooked to rare or medium. Chicken must be cooked well to kill bacteria. It takes longer to come to a higher temperature.

Which meat cooks the fastest?

Things that respond well to hot-fast cooking include chicken breasts, pork loin, pork tenderloin, beef tenderloin, tri-tip, ribeye, and any steak-like cut. Most fish and many kinds of seafood also respond well to searing at high heat for short periods of time—tuna steak comes to mind.

Is ground beef easier to cook than chicken?

Beef, in general, takes longer to prepare, has thicker bones, and is slightly heavier to digest because of the higher fat content. Chicken broth, on the other hand, is easier both to prepare and to digest.

Does chicken take longer to grill than steak?

Chicken takes longer than beef because even slightly underdone chicken can be dangerous, whereas medium-rare or even rare beef is still safe to eat. Depending on the part of the chicken, you are after a temp of 165–190F, while for beef you are more than likely aiming for 125–135F.

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