Cutting Up a Whole Chicken Article -
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How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

Save money when you buy a whole chicken and cut it up into pieces.

Buying a whole chicken is cheaper than buying pieces, and the leftover parts are ideal for making backbone of soup stocks. The same cutting method can be used for other fowl like duck or squab.

1. Place the chicken breastbone-side up on a clean, flat cutting surface.

    2. Use a standard, sharp kitchen knife to slice off the wing joints. The wings can be set aside and reserved for stock.

      3. To remove the breasts, make a shallow incision running along one side of the breastplate.

        4. Deepen the incision by slicing into the chicken toward the rib cage. Pull the meat away from the rib cage as you slice down. As you progress further into the bird, slide the knife off of the rib cage repeatedly to ensure that you are removing any meat attached to the rib cage.

          5. Your knife will come to a point, just underneath the wishbone, where the wing joint meets the rib cage. The wing joint cartilage is soft enough to slice through easily. Slice completely through the joint, stopping only when your knife reaches the cutting surface. At this point, the breast is almost completely off the bird.

            6. Slice through the skin that runs from the tail end of the bird to the point where the leg meets the breast.

              7. The breast should come off of the bird with little effort. Pull the breast outwards, away from the bird, being careful not to rip or tear the flesh. You might need to slice through some still-attached skin to remove the breast.

                8. Cut through the leg joint until you reach the point where the leg bone meets the body. This joint can be difficult to cut through, so stop cutting when you reach bone. Don't try to cut through the leg bone.

                  9. Grasp the leg and pull it behind the bird, pressing your fingers into the back of the joint until the joint pops loose. You will feel the bone pop out of the socket. Remove the leg by cutting in and around the joint. Keep cutting until you have freed the leg from the body. Now, turn the bird around and remove the other breast and leg the same way, following steps 3 through 9.

                    10. The carcass, along with the wings, can be used for making soup stock.

                    11. You can debone the final cuts of meat further, or cook them whole, depending upon your recipe requirements.

                    Jul. 2, 2009 6:48 pm
                    I am saving this page so I can keep the part about how to cut up a whole chicken
                    Jul. 17, 2009 9:21 am
                    Thanks for the instructions for cutting up a whole chicken. When I was a young cook my dad said "It won't taste like chicken if it's not cut up right!" He was right.
                    Aug. 3, 2009 10:44 am
                    Toward the front of the breast, feel with finger tip for the "point" of the wishbone. Cut downward just to the rear of that point, through both sides of the breast, to remove the wishbone. It's a delicacy for which we, as little kids, would fuss and argue whose turn it was. Then, remove the breast meat as you wish. Also, turn the chicken over and locate the ends of the scapular bones, "shoulder" area, back nearly midway toward the tail. Slice forward under those, and remove in one piece with the wing. Makes a nice big meaty serving.
                    Aug. 14, 2009 12:14 pm
                    that looks good i can eat it all.
                    Aug. 15, 2009 9:26 pm
                    Thanks for all of the info...very hepful. Also, all of the extra tips....deeply appreciated.
                    Aug. 30, 2009 7:53 pm
                    Sep. 1, 2009 5:46 am
                    with this method we get real smart and tasty chicken
                    Sep. 3, 2009 11:33 am
                    Any recipes for stew chicken.? love life, people and bless others.
                    Betsy B. 
                    Sep. 15, 2009 11:01 am
                    Thanks for all the good information on cutting up a whole chicken--I'm ready to save money!!
                    Sep. 28, 2009 6:41 pm
                    Thank You: I just want to remind those who might be cooking for the first time. Make sure that you wash the chicken thorougly before cooking. This prevents sominila poisoning.
                    Sep. 30, 2009 10:28 am
                    Thanks for the info. I've been searching for these instructions for a while.
                    Oct. 21, 2009 6:12 pm
                    do not rinse your chicken before cooking. it actually increases the risk for salmonella poisoning since you are handling raw chicken. Thoroughly cooked chicken will kill any salmonella.
                    Nov. 1, 2009 10:21 am
                    That is correct. You don't want to rinse raw chicken. It just spreads everything around the sink and on other surfaces that normally would not be in contact with raw meat. Just be sure to cook to the correct temperature.
                    Nov. 14, 2009 8:30 pm
                    Just do what our mothers have been doing for years. To rinse or not rinse? What ever they did were all still around. :)
                    Nov. 19, 2009 6:39 am
                    Does anyone have an easy way to take the skin off, I usually buy skinless and boneless and its a little pricey, one time I bought with skin on and it took me forever to get it off so i'd rather just buy whole chicken and be done with it
                    Dec. 1, 2009 12:55 am
                    yap....I've been searching for these instructions for a while.thanks to shere it but I also searching the tips of the way to take the skin off for making skinless and bonless breast peices.
                    Dec. 9, 2009 7:53 pm
                    you tube has got a few videos on the subject im new to cooking and i just cut up my first chicken last week i did ok cant wait to try again.
                    Dec. 18, 2009 7:17 am
                    Rinsing removes any accumulated salts on the skin and blood which may have sloshed around during packaging and shipping.
                    Jan. 11, 2010 10:20 am
                    After educating myself on the practices of meat packing plants, I will always do what I have always done: wash all meats before preparing to remove any residues. All prep surfaces should be bleached before and after handling any meat. There are many food-born illnesses due not excluively to salmonella.
                    Jan. 12, 2010 2:15 pm
                    Thanks. I am a southern girl; however, I could not cut a whole chicken. Great instructions!
                    Jan. 18, 2010 1:05 pm
                    To remove skin --- This is my trick. Take a paper napkin (bounty or a strong one that doesn't easily tear when wet)and hold the skin with the paper napkin and pull it apart. It comes out easy! All the best!
                    Feb. 15, 2010 11:43 am
                    I am with "Radhika" on the skinning chicken. I loosen it up by sliding my fingers between the skin and meat...when it's loose enough I take a paper towel and pull...comes off easy. I have always rinsed the chicken...but I also helped my Grand-Mother catch chickens for dinner. We'd have a huge pot over an outdoor fire to dip the hen in to de-feather...justa'few years back *lol*
                    Feb. 23, 2010 12:35 pm
                    Interesting piece of information. I will keep this in my file
                    miss blue 
                    Mar. 1, 2010 10:10 pm
                    I wash the chicken with a splash of vinegar in the water, it kills whatever bacteria may be on it,and can,t taste the vinegar after cooking it,
                    Apr. 1, 2010 6:01 pm
                    Thanks but mom also cut off the thighs and the back. that is my favorite part and i dont see that instruction given.
                    Apr. 19, 2010 11:18 am
                    Good point, Kathryn!
                    Apr. 20, 2010 8:59 pm
                    Has anyone seen the movie Food Inc.? My hubby and I watched it yesterday, and today when we were doing our grocery shopping we bought the organic chicken, whole chicken was $2 something a lb., vs. $5.99 for the breast pieces. So I cut it up using this method, let me tell you, you need a good sharp knife! And keep the hand which is holding the knife dry, otherwise it'll get slippery! Some of you experienced cooks probably knew that already :)
                    Apr. 30, 2010 8:22 pm
                    A steak knife or other serrated medium-sized knife can help with the skinning. "Grab" some skin with the knife, give the knife a turn or two to anchor the skin, then pull. Hard to explain - hope this helps.
                    May 1, 2010 7:00 pm
                    i prefer whole versus cut/prepared chicken due to cross contaminants or whatever else that's out there during meat processing. great tip. thanks.
                    Tiffany Ferrand 
                    Jun. 19, 2010 2:34 pm
                    I think this is a good blog...I personally needed the advice...thanks.
                    Jun. 26, 2010 8:54 am
                    This helps me a lot. My dad was a meat cutter, so I never had to learn to cut up a chicken. I would just take it to their house and he would cut it up for me. After he passed away I just bought the chicken already cut up.
                    Jul. 17, 2010 12:59 pm
                    this was helpful! i was a meat cutter in high school and always had a hard time cutting chickens. but this is a real "how to" on the DIY chicken cutting! way to go and thank you ALL RECIPES you make the impossible, possible for everybody.
                    Aug. 6, 2010 9:11 am
                    I wash all my chicken and agree with BDM, in addition I will soak whole chicken or turkey in salt water, it's just a thing my Grandmother always told me helps draw out any blood and I do it and haven't died.
                    Aug. 17, 2010 6:56 pm
                    I always wash my chickens as soon as I open them. I also use good hot water and flip it over, rinse out the cavity etc. I usually crock pot roast mine and then any leftover meat is used in casseroles/soups. The broth leftover from the roasting I pour into a tall measuring cup I have and stick it in the fridge. In the morning I remove the cake of fat, and then freeze the broth in 2 cup sized Gladware containers. Works well for my family, I rarely have any complaints =)
                    Aug. 27, 2010 7:41 am
                    Thanks for the info.. I hv been needing to learn the proper way to cut up a chicken :)
                    Sep. 18, 2010 1:58 pm
                    These are all good comments,enjoyed reading them, it brought back memories of things my Mom used to do when I was young. I guess I was paying more atintion to what she was doing and telling me than I thought. It all sounds so familiar to me.Ben
                    Oct. 11, 2010 7:28 am
                    how do you save the page? I dont see that option like on recipes
                    Nov. 6, 2010 8:06 am
                    Hi, & thanks to all these great ideas--I have been cooking for 49 yrs & I've been told one of the best cajun cooks aorund but I always like to hear other ideas from great cooks and "good eaters' ; as my hubby calls himself , but you can never know it all or too much.In fact I enjoy reading these comments as much as reading the recipes. Reading about cooking is fun, fun to me. Patchwyrk , you have a point ; it would be good to save the entire page--I will try to send this page to a new folder & see what happens. Will let you know if it works-- Thanks again for all the great tips. May God Bless us all"----Mimi
                    Dec. 8, 2010 10:20 pm
                    using kitchen shears would be my suggestion i never cook with the skin anymore this is an efficient time saver!!!!
                    Jan. 4, 2011 3:48 pm
                    I would like to add to sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt inside the cavity and allover the outside of the chicken..let it sit on a flat surface for an hour and then rinse thoroughly inside and out..with cold water.Be sure to clean the surface you laid the chicken on very thoroughly with hot water and dish detergent..
                    Jan. 8, 2011 10:10 am
                    To save the page, you could always copy and paste it into Word. I know it is not as convenient as keeping it in cyber space, but at least you would have it to refer to. Maybe keep it with all of your paper recipes?
                    Feb. 5, 2011 2:59 pm
                    make me huggery
                    royce Thorpe 
                    Mar. 1, 2011 10:21 am
                    To save: with the page up on your browser go to file, click-save as then select the folder you want (even desk top) then click save. I have a folder just for recipws and hints. Works well.
                    Mar. 3, 2011 8:52 am
                    The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten has a better way to cut up chicken that is much easier. Just saying.
                    Mar. 5, 2011 6:06 pm
                    I've been cutting up whole chickens all my life. The instructions are great, but, the most important thing of all are your knives. They have to be absolutely SHARP! I cannot stress this enough. Most times I'll run mine over a good stone a couple of times before I'm finished with one bird. Weight and a good handle that just "feels right" in your hand makes the process go effortlessly. Avoid porous handles(bacteria) and have band-aids close by. Learn how to sharpen a blade. Thanks, Dan
                    Mar. 6, 2011 1:03 pm
                    I agree with Dan about halving a sharp knife!! You put yourself in danger trying to cut anything with a dull knife. If you can sharpen your own knives yourself, ask your hairdresser who sharpens her scissors. Usually this person will sharpen your knives professionally for you. It is a cost that is well worth the expense.
                    Apr. 8, 2011 5:16 pm
                    When I was 12 I was taught to cut the white meat into three pieces, one leaving the wish bone whole and cutting the rest in half. We always had fun making a wish with it after it dried.The back was cut in two pieces and the ribs were a seperate piece. Being a farm family of 6 we ate it all. No chicken stock pieces!
                    Apr. 16, 2011 6:36 pm
                    Aug. 14, 2011 1:49 pm
                    What about the thighs? I am saving this page.
                    Hazel I'S 
                    Dec. 4, 2011 4:46 pm
                    what does buying a tv and selling a tv has to do with cutting up a chicken???
                    Hazel I'S 
                    Dec. 4, 2011 4:48 pm
                    correction, what does buying an ipad and selling a tv has to do with cutting up a chicken???
                    Apr. 19, 2012 11:59 am
                    I have been SO WARY of trying this, but know I could save a huge amount of money buying whole. Thank you so much for sharing!
                    Apr. 26, 2012 8:28 pm
                    A truly helpful tool or people who love to cook!!!!
                    Sep. 5, 2012 1:09 pm
                    There should be a video of how this is done. Easy once you know how:) AND yes, cost effective as a whole chicken is much cheaper than the parts!!! And what is not cooked... freezable.
                    Sep. 15, 2012 4:04 pm
                    Seems like a lot of work. Check out Julia Childs. Basically: 1-cut the legs off. Bend them back, cut the skin, break the joint and cut them off. 2-cut the wings off. Like the legs above. 3-cut the breast off. Cut between the breast and rib cage, bend the parts apart, cut the remaining skin and stuff connecting them. 4-I debone the breast. Split along the breast bone, then separate the meat from the bone/cartilage. Sort of like 3-7 above but easier this way. 5-good stuff (breasts, legs, any part of the wings you like) you put aside for use. Rest goes into the stock pot in my house. If you have the energy you can pull enough meat off the stock remnants to make soup, chicken salad, or feed the dogs (my choice usually). Tools: cleaver and filet knife - both nice and sharp as other folks have mentioned. Cleaver does it all except deboning the breast. I can't do it in 18 seconds yet - I'll have to work on that :-)
                    Feb. 20, 2013 5:31 am
                    As written this recipe may be a bit bland, but the base of the recipe is quite good. I Read most of the reviews and adjusted to personal taste: Cooking is both art and science. As a science, the kitchen becomes a laboratory, the setting for discoveries that work so well they become classics, or fail so abysmally that they are lessons in what not to do. As in science, food becomes cuisine. Cooks learn to add a 'pinch' of a favorite spice to enhance flavor. Scientists maintain the rigor of exactitude. Cooks weigh and measure to produce a finished result that is consistent. AND THEN THE FUN BEGINS. *ALWAYS READ THE RECIPE IN FULL BEFORE YOU START, then read the reviews. I can do the happy food dance!! NOW !! I can't leave anything alone! All ways read THE RECIPE IN FULL BEFORE YOU START, then read the reviews. You get good Tip or two there.
                    Jun. 23, 2013 4:51 pm
                    why you call that a whole chicken if its not have a head and feet ? just asking
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