How to Cut up a Whole Chicken

This is a guide for cutting up a whole chicken, but without giblets.

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For the purpose of this article, mentioning the “breast” refers to the whole chicken breast. This is technically correct, but it’s commonplace when talking about the “breast”, including on this blog, to be referring to each of the two half breasts.

How to Cut up a Whole Chicken

Step #1:

Start with the chicken on it’s back on a chopping board. Make a slit in the crevice with a knife in the skin where the left thigh joins to the body. You will now have a better view where we will break off the leg quarter and remove it. Take a hold of the leg quarter and pull it away, then down from the chicken to make the joint pop out of it’s socket. Cut through this broken joint with a knife to cut off the leg quarter.

How To Cut up a Whole Chicken - Step 1

Step #2:

Place the leg quarter skin side down on the board and look for the fat line on the joint between the drumstick and the thigh. Cut through this joint to seperate the drumstick from the thigh.

Step #3:

To remove the left wing, hold the wing up with one hand so that the body is almost dangling, then feel for where the wing attaches to the breast and with a knife start to cut there. As you cut near the joint with the knife, the joint will reveal itself, making it easier to cut through. Complete the first 3 steps for the right side of the chicken too.


Step #4:

To remove the backbone, hold the chicken up and look for the fat lines in between the breast and the backbone and cut there, continuing to cut all the way through the ribs on each side, then break the backbone off. The backbone can be used for stock or other things.

Step #5:

Put the chicken breast skin side down on the board and with a knife make a slit in the bone in the middle on top. Flip the breast over and push down above the bone you just made a slit in. The middle section should completely crack underneath from the pressure of your hands. Cut through the middle to seperate the breast in to 2 pieces.

How to Cut up a Whole Chicken - Step 5

Step #6:

Cut the breast halves into halves once again, optionally.

How to Cut up a Whole Chicken - Step 6

You have now cut a whole chicken up into 11 pieces.

Related links:
Southern Style Whole Fried Chicken
Whole Chicken Casserole