How to Cut Chicken Wings Into Flats and Drumettes

This simple two-step process is the key to making your favorite wing recipes.

Raw chicken wings on cutting board
Photo: Candice Bell / Getty Images

Wings are the perfect appetizer to serve at a party, whether it's for a game day gathering or a casual backyard cookout. You can serve this crowd-pleasing dish straight from the oven or fryer—but before you share them with your crowd, you have to do some legwork (or, should we say, wing work?). What you buy at the grocery store might be ready for your recipe—or you might need to cut the three-part wings into usable pieces.

A Chicken Wing Has 3 Parts

While a chicken has two wings, a complete chicken wing has three parts: the drumette, the midsection (which is also known as the flat or the wingette), and the wing tip. Wings aren't white or dark meat—they're a hybrid of the two. The drumette is attached to the breast, so the meat there is leaner. The flat has more skin, connective tissue, and a rich flavor. The wing tip is mostly skin and bone.

Buying Chicken Wings

Wings are generally sold as the whole wing or already cut into the drumette and midsection. If you buy wings that are intact, you'll need to butcher them at home by separating them into the different sections.

How to Cut Chicken Wings

First, make sure the wings are dry. Don't rinse them with water—simply dab them with paper towels to make sure they aren't slippery. From there, it's a simple two-step process.

What You'll Need

  • Cutting board (use one reserved for meat and poultry)
  • Sharp chef's knife
  • 3 bowls

After you've gathered your supplies, follow this technique:

  1. Place the wing on your cutting board, and, using your fingertip, find the joint between the wing tip and the midsection. Place your knife in the center of that joint and cut through the skin and tendon to separate. You may need to put some pressure on your knife to make a clean cut—do this by pressing down firmly on the top of the blade with your free hand.
  2. Separate the drumette from the flat by finding the joint that connects the two. Steady your knife in between the joint and cut all the way through. If your knife meets a lot of resistance, reposition it until you've found the sweet spot in between the joint, so all you are cutting through is skin and tendon—not bone.
  3. That's it! Keep going until you have a platters-worth of wings, placing each part in its own bowl. Then, put the drumettes and flats to work in recipes like the Test Kitchen's Favorite Buffalo Wings or these baked Maple-Dijon Chicken Wings. And if warm, fragrant spices are what you are looking for, don't miss a chance to make a batch of Tandoori Chicken Wings.

Wing Tips

While you won't be using the wing tips for your buffalo wings, don't toss them. They are loaded with collagen. Stash them in the freezer and add them to your next batch of homemade chicken broth.

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