Instructions: Cutting Up a Whole Chicken

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 pieces 1x
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: How-To
  • Cuisine: American


Cutting up a chicken is easy, economical, and the best way to get the exact chicken pieces you want! Here’s how to do it.


  • 1 whole chicken
  • Large, sharp knife
  • Kitchen shears (optional)


  1. Put the chicken on a large cutting board. Cut into the skin where one of the thighs meets the body, revealing the joint underneath. Pop the joint out of the socket, then cut through the joint to release the leg quarter. Repeat on the other side.
  2. To remove the wings, grab a wing and tip the chicken on its side. Use your other hand to feel for the joint where the wing and breast meet. Cut into and around that joint, releasing the wing. Repeat on the other side.
  3. To separate the breast from the back, look for a line of fat that goes diagonally along the side of the body from the cavity end towards the wing joint. Cut along that line all the way from the cavity opening to the head opening. I like to use my kitchen shears to do this, but you can also use a knife. Repeat on the other side.
  4. To cut the breast in half, lay it skin side down and find the tip of the breastbone. Cut a slit in the bone. Turn the breast over and use your hands to break the breastbone, then use your knife to halve the breast.
  5. To separate the legs from the thighs, put a leg quarter skin side down on the cutting board and look for a line of fat where the leg and thigh meet. Cut down on that line and through the joint. Repeat with the other leg quarter.