How to Cut a Whole Chicken

Follow these step-by-step instructions to cut a whole chicken into wing, thigh, drumstick and breast pieces all ready to be cooked for dinner.

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Step 1: Cutting Chicken Legs


Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place on a cutting board with the wings away from you. Gently pull leg away from side of breast and slice through skin and meat.

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Step 2: Separating Legs and Wings from Chicken


Bend leg joint away from body. Insert knife and cut down through joint in one quick motion, separating whole leg from body. If desired, repeat with wing on same side of bird, slicing down through joint closest to body.

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Step 3: Separating Thighs and Drumsticks


If you want to leave the chicken leg whole, omit this step. If not, turn leg over so it sits skin-side down. Slice along fat line between thigh and drumstick. Cut cleanly through leg joint. Repeat steps with opposite leg and wing, if desired.

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Step 4: Cutting the Body


Starting at pointed end of breast, slice down through body cavity towards thickest part of breast, separating from backbone (save for making stock or discard).

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Step 5: Splitting Chicken Breast


Turn breast skin-side down and split in half along breastbone (this will require firm pressure).

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Step 6: Cutting Breast Pieces


Turn over breast pieces and cut each in half, to create a total of 10 chicken pieces (2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks and 4 breast pieces).

Originally published on, February 2010.