How to Cut Up a Chicken

Guide to Cutting a Whole Chicken into 8 Parts

How To Cut Up a Chicken

If you take a short walk down any isle in the grocery store, you’ll see just how high it is to get a single breast fillet. Sometimes, to get a premium fillet, you pay more than $7 a pound. What you quickly learn when you have to pinch pennies, is that it’s much, much more economical to buy a whole bird and cut it up yourself, plus you get the satisfaction that comes from learning a highly useful skill. Plus, when you buy a chicken, unless you plan on roasting or baking the whole thing; you’re going to need to know exactly how to cut up a chicken in a way that doesn’t waste any of the meat making unnecessary cuts or cutting at the wrong joints. When you know what you’re doing, preparing a chicken will only take a few minutes and you’ll be able to fillet your own breast pieces at a fraction of the cost it takes at the store.


When you’re cutting up a chicken, you’ll end up with 8 pieces (plus the back): 2 breast halves (great for filleting or making chicken tenders, sandwiches, or serving all by itself as a fillet), 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks and 2 wings- obviously perfect for frying or baking recipes, whichever you prefer. It really takes a smooth hand, a sharp knife, and a little bit of preparation to cut the bird exactly right- get your hands on it and try it yourself tonight.


How To Cut Up a Whole Chicken:


Necessary Equipment:

-Well Sharpened 10-inch carving knife

-Strong Pair of Kitchen Scissors

-Wooden (Not plastic) Cutting Surface


Here’s the 7 Easy Steps You’ll Need:


  1. First, place the chicken in front of you on it’s back so that you can move all the parts without any of it being hard to reach. Take your kitchen scissors and remove the bird’s wing tips- you’ll easily recognize them because they’re always cut off the bird- they’re mostly bone and really don’t have any purpose.
  2. Then Cut the ball joint where the wing meets the breast with a sharp knife, and do the same on the other side. Wiggle the wing if you can’t find the joint, you’ll feel it pretty easy.
  3. Pull the leg on one side away from the bird, so that you see how it all works. Turn the bird over and locate the area of skin and bone that’s between the thigh and the breast, and you’re going to cut where the thigh meets the body.
  4. Turn the bird back over, grab the leg and pull, it should give where you cut it; find the socket and take your sharp knife and cut until you make it through the joint, doing the same with the other side.
  5. Place the leg down, on the skin-side. Flex the ball joint on the leg to locate the ball joint. There’s an easily visible, thin piece of fat that separates the thigh and the drumstick, all you have to do is wiggle them to figure out where it is. Repeat with the other leg.
  6. Start at the head end of the bird, and cut through the rib cage on one side of the bird with kitchen shears; repeating the process on the other side to remove it completely. Most people use this piece of the chicken in their savory stocks- perfect for other recipes you can find here.
  7. What you’ve got now is the large breastbone of the chicken. This is the number one reason to have a very sharp knife, you’ve got to cut through the breastbone to cut the breast into two pieces. Take a kitchen towel to protect your hands and put a lot of pressure on the breast bone right in the middle- it will be red and white right down the center of the breast. You now have eight pieces. If you want, take each breast at this point and cut it in half, right in the middle. This is how you find the wishbone to break with your significant other (wink, wink).


This simple method is time tested and approved and greatly lessens your costs in the long run. Plus, you can see the quality of the bird you’re picking this way- you don’t only see the pieces so you get the absolute best quality for your money.



Put cha hands on it!