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raw cut up chicken pieces on parchment paper

How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

This easy step-by-step guide will show you how to perfectly cut up a whole chicken in no time!
Keyword how to cut up a whole chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Tanya
Cost $5


  • 1 Sharp Chef's Knife


  • 1 whole chicken patted dry


  • Place the chicken on a sturdy cutting board, breast side up.
  • Remove the wing tips from the chicken by cutting them off with the Chef's knife.
  • Next, remove any additional fat you see around the chicken near the cavity. You can also remove the little nub at the bottom.
  • Grab the chicken drumstick and slice the skin where the drumstick meets the breast, exposing the area under the skin. Pull the leg away from the chicken and push it upward to pop the bone out of the socket. Cut around this bone and remove the chicken leg from the body, making sure to cut around the oyster, the little bit of the meat that sits closest to the spine. Repeat on the other leg
  • Once you have your chicken leg quarters, you can break these down further by separating the drumstick from the thigh. Turn the chicken leg, skin side down, and use your fingers to locate the ball joint between the thigh and drumstick. There will be a white line of fat at this point. Cut on the line to separate the drumstick from the thigh. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Next, remove the wings from the chicken breast by cutting around the skin to expose the shoulder joint. Cut through the joint to separate the wing from the breast. Repeat on the other side. To further break down the wings, feel for the joint between the drumette and the flat and cut through the joint.
  • Lift the chicken, so it stands vertically on the cutting board, holding the backbone in your hand, with the opening facing upwards. Use the knife to cut through the skin and cartilage between the back and the breast bone. Once you get to the shoulder bones, you may need to use a little extra force to get them to separate.
  • Lay the breast on the cutting board, breast skin side up. Use the knife to slice vertically through the chicken breast's skin and meat until you see the bone. Then use a chef's knife and place it over the chicken and apply pressure to cut/crack through the bone with the knife.


  • You can break the breast down further by cutting horizontally through the center bone of the breast. This is perfect for getting equal-sized pieces of chicken.
  • The backbone and wing tips are great for making homemade chicken broth.