How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

Save money at the grocery store by simply buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself.


Is it really more economical to buy a whole chicken rather than pre-cut chicken pieces? Yes! With a sharp chef's knife and kitchen shears, you can spend 5 to 10 minutes cutting up your own chicken and save some serious dough.  

Step 1

Cut Through Skin Around the Leg


Place the chicken, breast side up, on a cutting board. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut through the skin where the leg attaches to the breast.

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Use a plastic cutting board instead of a wooden one. Plastic cutting boards are easier to clean and disinfect after coming into contact with raw chicken.

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Step 2

Remove the Legs


Pull the leg back with your hands to pop up the leg bone. Place your knife between the round end of the leg bone and the chicken body. Push straight down to cut and remove the leg.

Step 3

Separate Drumstick & Thigh


Place your knife along the natural line between the drumstick and thigh. Push straight down to cut through the joint, separating the leg into the drumstick and thigh pieces. Repeat steps 1 through 3 with the other leg.

Step 4

Remove the Wings


Pull a wing out away from the breast and cut through the skin and joint to remove the wing. Repeat with the remaining wing.

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Step 5

Split Breast


Use poultry or kitchen shears to cut through the rib cage along the backbone, completely separating the back from the breast. Split the breast into two breast halves by cutting along the breast bone with shears, or placing a chef's knife directly on the breast bone and cutting straight down

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Discard the back bone, or use it to make homemade chicken stock. Simply simmer it in water for several hours with carrots, celery, onions and seasoning. Strain through a colander and discard the solids for rich and delicious chicken stock.

Step 6

Prepare Chicken Pieces


Use the eight chicken pieces in your favorite recipe immediately, or place in a zip-top freezer bag to freeze for future use.

Want more? Watch this video and learn how to butterfly a chicken.

Plus: Get our favorite baked chicken recipe >>

About Kitchen Is My Playground

Tracey is the creator of the popular blog The Kitchen Is My Playground, which she founded in 2011. Her goal is to share recipes with other home cooks looking to create flavorful (and somewhat adventurous) food for their families and friends. Connect with her on PinterestFacebookTwitter or Google+.