How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken


You don't need special skills or a lot of muscle to cut up a chicken at home. Just practice the following steps, and it'll soon become second nature.

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Whole chickens are good for roasting, but you can also cut them into pieces for braises and stews -- and they cost about a dollar less than precut chickens.

Tip: Don't throw away the leftover back and neck: Store them in the freezer each time you cut up a chicken until you have enough for stock. Simmer for an hour with water to cover and you'll have a base for a great soup.

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Step 1


With chicken breast side up, pull each leg away from body, then slice through skin between breast and drumstick.

Tip: A sharp chef's knife makes cutting easier, and a separate cutting board for meat helps avoid cross-contamination. These steps also work for cooked chicken.

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Step 2


Turn chicken on its side. Bend each leg back until thighbone pops out of its socket. Cut through joint and skin to detach leg completely.

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Step 3


With chicken on its side, pull each wing away from body. Cut through joint and remove wing.

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Step 4


Lift up chicken and cut downward through rib cage and then shoulder joints to separate breast from back (save back for stock).

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Step 5


Place breast skin side down. Split center bone using a chopping motion, then slice through meat and skin to separate into 2 pieces.

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Step 6


To cut breast halves into quarters, turn each skin side up and cut in half diagonally through bone.

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Step 7


To divide the legs, turn each skin side down and cut through joints (along white fat line) to separate thigh from drumstick.

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Step 8

You should end up with 6 to 10 parts, depending on whether you divided the breast halves and legs.

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