by Olena

How to Cut a Whole Chicken

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Olena Osipov
5 from 1 vote

Learn How to Cut a Whole Chicken into pieces in 10 minutes. Not only will you save money, but you’ll have enough chicken pieces for 2 dinners and the most delicious chicken bone broth. This easy step-by-step tutorial will guide you every step of the way, with tips for best practices along the way. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to cut a whole chicken yourself, now’s the time!

With over 65 chicken recipes on the blog, I can safely say this is our favorite protein to have on hand for easy meals. Whether it be chicken salad at lunch or chicken burrito skillet at dinner, I never run out of ways to use a whole chicken after cutting it up!

Why Learn How to Cut a Whole Chicken?

Cutting a whole chicken into pieces is easier than you think. Once you learn how to cut pieces from a whole chicken you’ll be saving a ton of money.

My favorite way to save on organic poultry is to buy a 2 pack for $30 at Costco and cut them up. Or use it whole to make Instant Pot chicken noodle soup and broth. Then I use the carcass to make bone broth. Nothing goes to waste this way.

An organic whole chicken costs $2.49/lb vs. chicken breasts at $5.99/lb – that’s twice the savings!

It’s worth the extra bit of effort to learn how to properly cut a whole chicken. All you need is a sharp butcher’s knife and a clean flat cutting board and you’re on your way.

Growing up in Ukraine my grandma always made 3 meals from a whole chicken. Money was tight and grocery stores did not sell chicken pieces. Whole chicken, often from your own chicken coop, was the way to survive. Until this day, I believe it makes the most sense!

Why Cut Up a Whole Chicken?

  • It’s budget-friendly. Organic meat is not cheap in Canada and I’m always on a budget because it’s a smart way to live.
  • You automatically get different cuts of meat which is great to have a variety.
  • Using a whole chicken is so versatile and none of it goes to waste.
  • You can freeze pieces for later if you’re not using them immediately.

Tips for Best Results When Cutting a Whole Chicken

  • Quality knife. If you don’t yet have one, consider it a lifetime investment. I can’t begin to tell you the difference it makes to your overall experience in the kitchen, having the proper tools. There is nothing worse than trying to cut meat with a knife that’s no good.
  • Sharp kitchen shears are also very helpful for cutting excess fat quickly and efficiently.
  • Make sure your chicken is not frozen. We can cut up only fresh or thawed chicken.
  • Pat your bird down with paper towel to make sure it’s dry so you can properly grip it. You may need to pat again it later on.
  • Have a clean, flat cutting board to work on. Make sure it’s secure and not slipping and sliding everywhere.
  • Clean up thoroughly when you’re done. You don’t want to leave any raw meat bacteria (salmonella) hanging around.

How to Cut up a Whole Chicken Step by Step Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to cut 6 pieces from a whole chicken. Read on for how to get 8 or 10 pieces too.

  • Lay chicken on its back breasts side up. Remove bag with giblets if any.
  • Trim fat and skin on both sides of the opening.
  • Remove the tail or I like to call it “butt”. Sharp kitchen shears are great for this step.
  • Cut each leg at the joint where the leg meets the body. It helps to start cutting through the skin and then snap the leg. You will hear a crack, so cut the muscle between 2 joints.
  • Cut the wings the same way as legs. You’ll notice there is a ball joint where the wing mets the breast (kind of like an armpit). It helps to wiggle it away from the body at first to get a sense of where you’ll start cutting.
  • Pull the skin from the breasts using your hands and help it separate from meat with the knife along the way. It should come off very easily. This step is only necessary if you want skinless chicken breasts, otherwise leave it on.
  • Flip the chicken and trim skin the same way on the back. There will be more fat attached to the carcass under the skin. Trim it as well.
  • Flip chicken on its back again and remove the breasts. Cut each breast in the middle close to the center bone and along the ribs. The close you get to the bone the more bang for your buck (ie. more meat).
  • That’s it. Do this a couple of times and you’ll soon become a pro.

FAQs

How do I cut a whole chicken into 8 pieces?

Follow the steps above and cut the chicken breasts into halves, crosswise. Now, you’ve got 2 extra pieces totaling 8.

How do I cut a whole chicken into 10 pieces?

To get 10 pieces, which will include, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks, 2 breasts cut in half (4), and 2 thighs, you need to separate the drumsticks from the thighs. Again, find the joint and use your knife to cut through the area where the two pieces meet.

How long can I refrigerate a whole chicken?


Ideally, you want to use it within 2 days. If you are not going to use it right away, store it in the freezer.

How do I cut a whole chicken in Chinese style?

To begin, your goal is to cut your chicken into small enough pieces that each one can easily be grabbed with chopsticks. So, keep in mind, you’ll end up with many smaller pieces. Fun fact, for special occasions, traditionally, Chinese families will serve the chicken head on the platter for decoration as a symbol of a beginning as well as an end (head and tail). This should tell you that when cutting a whole chicken Chinese style, it’s the WHOLE chicken…head and feet included as well as cutting up the bones and cartilage into pieces. Not necessarily to eat, but for presentation and broth later on.
The cutting technique differs in that you aren’t cutting raw chicken, it’s chicken that has been poached. You then cut the entire chicken in half first, cutting straight through the middle of the breasts, exposing two entire halves of chicken, and removing the backbone in the middle. From there, you’ll cut each part of the chicken into pieces in a methodical and intentional way and present it all on a platter for everyone to enjoy.

Is this method similar to Gordon Ramsey’s how to cut a chicken?

It’s pretty much identical! I mean, he’s able to manipulate the chicken with his hands a little more and feel for the joints that seem to just fall apart, but no worries, soon enough we’ll all reach Gordon Ramsey status 😉

Is this method the same for cutting up a whole cooked chicken?

It’s actually very similar. A cooked chicken is going to be easier to pull off the wings and thighs away from the body and generally easier to work with when cutting through the meat. It won’t be as rubbery. This doesn’t mean you should always cut it after cooking, no way! Cutting before allows you to pick and choose how you want to marinate the pieces, whether you even want to use them all or freeze some, and you can even use different cooking methods for different pieces.

Recipes to Use Cut Up Chicken In

Use chicken legs and wings in these recipes:

Use chicken breasts to make these recipes:

Thighs for these recipes:

The carcass is great for making soups like:

Alternately, get more inspiration on 3 dinners from one whole chicken.

Meal Prep Chicken in Advance

Make Ahead/Store: Once you have cut your chicken into pieces it is ready for use in all kinds of dishes. If you need to marinate, go ahead and get that started. Keep them stored in an airtight bag or container for up to 2 days until you’re ready to use them.

Freeze: Pieces of raw chicken can be kept frozen for up to 9 months. If you’re freezing a whole chicken prior to cutting it, it will keep frozen for up to 1 year. This is why buying them when they’re on sale is a great idea!

More How to Recipes to Try

cut up whole chicken into pieces on a counter
How to Cut a Whole Chicken

How to Cut a Whole Chicken {Step-by-Step Tutorial!}

Learn How to Cut a Whole Chicken into pieces in 10 minutes. Not only will you save money, but you'll have enough chicken pieces for 2 dinners and the most delicious chicken bone broth. This easy step-by-step tutorial will guide you every step of the way, with tips for best practices along the way. If you've ever wanted to learn how to cut a whole chicken yourself, now's the time!
5 from 1 vote
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 legs, carcass
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • Whole chicken

Instructions

  • Lay chicken on its back breasts side up. Remove bag with giblets if any.
  • Trim fat and skin on both sides of the opening.
  • Remove the tail or I like to call it “butt”. Sharp kitchen shears are great for this too.
  • Cut each leg between the leg bone and the bone that is attached to the body. It helps to start cutting and then snap the leg. You will hear a crack, so cut the muscle between 2 joints.
  • Cut the wings the same way as legs.
  • Pull the skin from the breasts using your hands and help it separate from meat with the knife along the way. It should come off very easily. Or leave it on.
  • Flip the chicken and trim skin the same way on the back. There will be more fat attached to the carcass under the skin. Trim it as well.
  • Flip chicken on its back again and remove the breasts. Cut each breast in the middle close to the center bone and along the ribs.
  • That’s it.

Make Ahead/Store: Once you have cut your chicken into pieces it is ready for use in all kinds of dishes. If you need to marinate, go ahead and get that started. Keep them stored in an airtight bag or container for up to 2 days until you're ready to use them.

    Freeze: Pieces of raw chicken can be kept frozen for up to 9 months. If you're freezing a whole chicken prior to cutting it, it will keep frozen for up to 1 year. This is why buying them when they're on sale is a great idea!

      Notes

      See recipe post for more tips & FAQs.
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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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