Although it may seem intimidating at first, you can easily cut up a chicken yourself. All you need is a sharp chef’s knife and a utility knife. Plus, knowing how to cut up a whole chicken can save you money. Whole chickens are often less than half the price per pound than cut up chicken. Use these step-by-step instructions to learn how to cut your own chicken.
How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken - Instructions
- To get started, be sure your chicken is completely thawed. Place your thawed chicken on a large, sturdy cutting board breast-side up.
- Remove the legs by pulling one leg straight down from the body and cut through the skin between the body and both sides of the thigh with your chef’s knife. Bend the leg firmly away from the body until the thigh bone pops from the socket. Cut between the thigh bone and the socket to separate the leg. You will need to use your hands to feel for the different joints to help cut them apart.
- Next, you’ll want to split the leg into a thigh and a drumstick. To split the leg into a thigh and a drumstick, place the chicken leg skin-side down on the cutting board. Look for a thin line of fat between the drumstick and the thigh to find the joint. Cut down firmly through the joint to separate the drumstick and the thigh. You can bend them back a bit to pop the joint loose if it’s hard to cut.
- Now you’ll remove the wings from the body. To remove the wings, feel for the joint where the wing meets the body. Pull the wing away from the body and cut down through the skin and the joint with either the small utility knife or the chef’s knife. As with the leg, bend the joint back before cutting through it. Repeat with the other wing. Wing tips, which are the last section of the wing, can be removed and discarded or saved for stock. The remaining wing can be left whole or cut into two sections at the joint.
- Cut back from the breast after removing the wings. Turn the chicken breast-side down. Cut on either side of the backbone with your chef’s knife. Remove and discard the backbone or save it for making stock. From the inside of the breast, cut a small incision at the base of the breastbone.
- Using the utility knife, score down the center of the breastbone and use your fingers to pry up the keel bone that separates the two breasts. You may need to use a knife to cut back either side to help you loosen this up, but it will pull away.
- Now, you’re ready to split the whole breast into two halves. Use strong, steady pressure and cut downwards with the chef’s knife along the length of the breastbone to separate the breast into two pieces. If desired, each breast piece can be further cut in half crosswise. You can do this by pressing firmly on the knife to cut through the rib cage.
Your chicken is now cut up! When dealing with raw poultry or meat, always remember to wash your hands, the cutting board, knives, and all surfaces that may have been exposed to the raw poultry with hot, soapy water.
Check Out These Delicious Chicken Recipes
Cutting up the chicken is only the first step to making a delicious chicken dish. Try these tasty recipes using the chicken you cut yourself!