Tofu vs Chicken: Protein & Nutrition Comparison

Tofu is often considered one of the best plant-based proteins since it has more protein than many other vegan foods, while chicken is a popular high-protein option among people who eat meat.

If you’re trying to increase your protein intake, you may benefit from this comparison of tofu vs chicken. We’re breaking down the calorie, macronutrient, and micronutrient differences, plus health benefits, flavor profiles, and cost for tofu and chicken.

Calorie & macronutrient comparison of tofu vs chicken

As you’ll see in the tables below, tofu generally contains fewer calories than chicken does. However, tofu contains significantly less protein than chicken, so you have to eat more to match the protein. Tofu contains minimal carbohydrates, mostly from fiber, while chicken doesn’t contain any carbohydrates or fiber.


Table 1 below shows the different versions of tofu in order of water content (highest to lowest).

Silken tofu contains the most water and is lower in calories and nutrients. Super-firm tofu contains the least amount of water and has the highest calories and nutrients, making it most similar to skinless chicken.

Table 1. Calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fat content of tofu depending on its firmness & water content (nutrient information from USDA FoodData Central).

113 g (4 oz)
Silken495 g3 g1 g
Soft625 g3 g3 g
Firm708 g3 g3 g
Extra-firm9510 g5 g3 g
Super-firm13015 g7 g3 g


As you’ll see in Table 2 below, skinless chicken is relatively similar in calories, fat, and protein despite the cut of meat. In contrast, skin-on chicken, seen in Table 3, varies more in calories and fat, with chicken thigh and leg having the highest of both.

Whether skinless or skin-on, chicken breast provides the fewest calories with the most protein.

Table 2. Calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fat content for skinless pieces of chicken (nutrient information from USDA FoodData Central).

(meat only, raw)
113 g (4 oz)
Leg12019 g4 g0 g
Wing14225 g4 g0 g
Thigh13722 g5 g0 g
Breast13625 g3 g0 g

Table 3. Calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fat content for pieces of chicken with skin (nutrient information from USDA FoodData Central).

(meat & skin, raw)
Leg21416 g16 g0 g
Wing19118 g13 g0 g
Thigh25019 g19 g0 g
Breast19323 g10 g0 g

Amino acid comparison of tofu vs chicken

Both tofu and chicken are considered complete proteins, meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs). In the table below, we compare the EAA content of tofu and chicken. When comparing equal weight, chicken breast contains considerably more of all amino acids.

When adjusted for equal protein (282 g firm tofu vs 113 g raw chicken breast), tofu has significantly more phenylalanine, while chicken has significantly more histidine, lysine, and methionine. All other EAAs are similar.

Table 4. Comparison of essential amino acid content between firm tofu and raw chicken breast (nutrient information from My Food Data).

Amino acidsTofu (firm)
113 g (4 oz)
Tofu (firm)
282 g (10 oz)
Chicken breast (raw)
113 g (4 oz)
Histidine255 mg638 mg951 mg
Isoleucine503 mg1259 mg1252 mg
Leucine826 mg2064 mg2110 mg
Lysine524 mg1310 mg2453 mg
Methionine125 mg312 mg663 mg
Phenylalanine496 mg1239 mg1030 mg
Threonine466 mg1165 mg1144 mg
Tryptophan139 mg349 mg321 mg
Valine516 mg1290 mg1321 mg

Vitamins & minerals in tofu vs chicken

Tofu and chicken both have impressive vitamin and mineral profiles which you’ll see below. 

Tofu is a good source of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron 
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Chicken is a good source of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Choline
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

Health benefits of tofu vs chicken

Tofu and chicken both promote improved health outcomes as noted below.

Tofu has the following health benefits:

  • Blood pressure control & heart health (due to potassium & fiber content)
  • Muscle function (due to electrolytes)
  • Digestive support (due to fiber content & improved gut bacteria)
  • Blood sugar regulation (due to fiber & protein content)
  • Breast cancer prevention (due to phytoestrogens)
  • Bone health & osteoporosis prevention (due to calcium & magnesium content)

Chicken has the following health benefits:

  • Heart, joint, & brain health (due to omega-3s & monounsaturated fatty acids)
  • Immune support (due to high zinc & B vitamin content)
  • Muscle growth (due to excellent amino acid profile, including the branched-chain amino acid leucine)
  • Nervous system regulation (due to high B vitamin content)

Flavor comparison & common dishes


Tofu has a very subtle flavor on its own but takes on any seasoning or sauce that it’s cooked in. The neutral flavor makes it easy to add to smoothies, scrambled eggs, stir-fries, salads, soups, and desserts.

The texture of tofu may be described as spongy and soft, but the firmer types have a somewhat similar texture to chicken.


Chicken has a slightly more distinct taste compared to tofu. However, the flavor can also be easily enhanced with seasonings and sauces. Chicken is often roasted, grilled, and barbecued to be added to salads, stir-fries, and soups or served as a main dish alongside side dishes.

The texture of chicken can turn tough and chewy if it’s overcooked, so keeping an eye on the temperature is important.

Cost comparison

Tofu is generally cheaper if comparing cost per ounce, but chicken usually costs less per gram of protein.

Final thoughts

Overall, tofu and chicken are great lean protein sources. Skinless chicken breast and super-firm tofu are the highest-protein and lowest-calorie options among those reviewed. Across the board, chicken is very high in protein, while silken and soft forms of tofu are much lower in protein.

Tofu is more versatile in its uses but has a similar texture and flavor to chicken. Both tofu and chicken are high in various vitamins and minerals and boast multiple health benefits.

If you are looking to include more plant-based proteins in your diet, tofu is one of the highest-protein vegan foods. If you simply desire the highest protein option, chicken is a better choice than tofu.

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Photo of Collette Sinnott, RD, LD

Collette is a registered dietitian and has over a decade of experience working with athletes, children & adults on tube feeding, and people with chronic health conditions. She has been writing about food and nutrition since she was in high school and has a passion for sharing evidence-based information, especially on the topics of protein and the importance of maintaining muscle mass for healthy aging.

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