Quick Overview: How To Cut Up A Whole Chicken
- Remove wing tips with kitchen shears.
- Cut through skin connecting breast to thigh, then remove legs.
- Flip the chicken over and remove the backbone with shears.
- Split the breast in half by cutting through the center.
- Pat dry and use in recipes as desired.
Cooking with a whole chicken can be a cost-effective and versatile option in the kitchen. However, breaking down a whole chicken may seem intimidating for some home cooks. In this blog, we'll cover everything you need to know about how to cut, clean, and cook a whole chicken.
1. Different Parts Of A Whole Chicken
The largest part of the chicken, located on the front of the bird. It can be cut up into two halves and is typically white meat. Chicken breast is lean and typically has a mild flavor. You can cook the meat by roasting, grilling, or pan-searing. It is often used in recipes like chicken parmesan or chicken salad.
Located on the back of the chicken, the thigh is dark meat and is often more tender and flavorful than the breast. Chicken thigh is dark meat and has a richer flavor than the breast. It can be cooked using methods like roasting, braising, or grilling. Thighs are often used in recipes like Mexican chicken or stuffed shells.
The leg consists of the thigh and drumstick and is also dark meat. It is commonly used in recipes like chicken drumsticks or fried chicken. Chicken legs consist of the thigh and drumstick and are often used in recipes like fried chicken or chicken drumsticks. They can be baked, grilled, or fried to achieve a crispy, golden-brown exterior.
The wings are small and bony and are often used as appetizers or in recipes like chicken wings. Chicken wings are typically fried or baked and can be served as snacks or entrees. They can be glazed in a variation of sauces, such as buffalo or barbecue sauce, for added flavor.
The back of the chicken is the bony portion located behind the breast. The back of the chicken is often used to make chicken stock, that can be used as a base for marinades, stocks, and soups.
Chicken has its own unique texture and flavor and can be cooked to perfection in several ways around the world.
2. Detailed Guide To Cutting A Whole Chicken
Here’s a detailed guide to removing the skin, deboning, and cutting a whole chicken, along with a bonus recipe for cooking chicken in the oven or pan!
- Choose a Whole Chicken: When choosing a whole chicken, look for one that has clear, smooth skin with no bruises or discoloration. Check the date of expiration on the package to ensure it's fresh, and make sure it's the right size for your needs.
- Clean the Chicken: Before cutting up the chicken, clean it with cold water and let it dry or pat it down with paper towels. Make sure to remove any giblets or organs from inside the cavity.
- Remove the Wings: Using kitchen shears, cut off the wing tips and discard them. Then, cut through the skin connecting the breast to the wing, and use your hands to pop the joint and remove the wing. Repeat on the other side.
- Remove the Legs: Cut through the skin connecting the breast to the thigh, then use a boning knife or chef's knife to cut through the joint. Repeat on the other side to remove both legs.
- Remove the Backbone: Place the chicken breast on a chopping board. Using kitchen scissors/shears or a sharp boning or chef’s knife, cut along one side of the backbone and then move from the tail to the neck. Redo on the other side, then separate the backbone and discard it.
- Split the Breast: Flip the chicken over so it is breast-side up. Utilize a chef's knife to slice through the center of the breast, splitting it into two halves.
- Separate the Skin: To separate the skin, start at the corner of the chicken breast and use a spatula to loosen the skin from the meat. Pull it off gently and discard it.
- Remove the Bones: Use a boning knife to remove the bones from the chicken breast and thighs. Begin at the top of the breast and make a slit with the tip of the knife through the rib cage to separate the breast meat from the bone. Remove the thigh bones in the same way, cutting along the center of the thigh.
- Cut the Meat: Cut the chicken breast and thighs into slices or cubes, depending on your recipe. Secure to cut against the grain for most tenderness.
- Cook the Chicken: There are many ways to cook chicken, including roasting, grilling, sautéing, and more.
Here are a few objectives to get you started:
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Put the chicken in a container and season it with salt, pepper, and any other herbs or spices. Roast the chicken for about at least 30 minutes or until the internal heat reaches 165°F.
Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Brush the chicken with oil and season it with pepper, salt, and your option of herbs or spices. Grill the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the meat has a nice golden hue.
Enjoy! Once the chicken is cooked, use it in your favorite recipes. Some ideas include chicken parmesan, chicken stir-fry, or grilled chicken salad.
Tips for Cutting a Whole Chicken:
- Use sharp knives and kitchen shears to make the process easier and safer.
- Make sure to cut through the joints to remove the legs and wings.
- To remove the backbone, start at the tail end and cut carefully along the spine.
- When removing the skin, take care not to tear the
3. Different Techniques To Cut A Whole Chicken
There are several techniques to cut a whole chicken, and each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are three different techniques to cut a whole chicken:
To spatchcock a chicken, place the chicken breast-side down on a chopping board. Using kitchen scissors, slice along both sides of the backbone and separate it. You can then season the chicken and grill or roast it.
Using a chef's knife, cut through the skin between the breast and thigh and then slice through the joint to remove the leg from the breast. Repeat on the other side. Then, remove the breastbone by cutting along both sides of it and pulling it out. You can then cut each breast in half to make breast halves.
Cut through the joint to separate the thigh and drumstick. Then, cut through the center of the breast to separate it into two pieces. Finally, cut each breast piece in half crosswise to make breast halves.
Kitchen TipRegardless of the technique you choose, always make sure to use a sharp knife or shears and follow food safety guidelines. It's essential to keep the cutting board and utensils clean and sanitize them after cutting raw chicken.
4. Dalstrong Knives You Need To Cut A Whole Chicken1. Chef's Knife 8" Shadow Black Series NSF Certified Dalstrong
This Dalstrong knife has a precision-forged, ultra-sharp chef's knife with a high carbon 7CR17MOV-X vacuum-treated steel blade that has a black, non-reflective titanium-nitride coating for added corrosion resistance.
The knife has a tall blade height to assist with food preparation and chopping activities and a beautiful hand-polished satin finish.
- Ultra-sharp blade with a 16-18° angle per side for maximum sharpness and resilience.
- Black, non-reflective titanium-nitride skin adds rust resistance and enhances non-stick properties.
- Ergonomic handle for decreased wrist and arm fatigue.
- May be too much ‘blade’ for some cooks.
- This knife requires regular sharpening to maintain its sharpness.
The blade on this chef’s knife is nitrogen-cooled for flexibility and corrosion resistance and has been hand-finished to an incredibly sharp scalpel-like edge using the traditional 3-step Honbazuke method.
The bolster is mirror polished, and the blade's spine has been hand-polished to create a smooth finish, allowing for a comfortable pinch grip. The handle is meticulously constructed from ultra-premium G-10 Garolite, triple-riveted for resilience, and features a beautiful copper mosaic pin adorning the center rivet.
- Extremely sharp and retains its edge well.
- Resistant to heat and durable, cold, and moisture.
- Elegant and sleek design and appearance.
- The handle may be too large for those folks that prefer slender or open-ended handles.
- May require extra care due to the sharpness of the blade.
This Kiritsuke chef’s knife has a staggering 8.5” blade that is coated with 66 layers of high-carbon stainless steel cladding for exceptional strength, durability, and stain resistance. The edge is hand-finished to a mirror polish using the traditional 3-step Honbazuke method, providing a scalpel-like sharpness.
- High-quality Japanese AUS-10V ‘super steel’ cutting core for exceptional performance and edge retention.
- 66 coating of high-carbon stainless steel wrapping for added strength, durability, and stain resistance.
- Hand-finished to a mirror polish for scalpel-like sharpness.
- The 8.5” blade may be too intimidating for home cooks who prefer smaller knives.
- The intricate design of the blade may require more maintenance than simpler designs.
This 6.5” precision forged blade features premium Japanese AUS-8 steel at 58 HRC, ensuring outstanding sharpness and edge retention. Rockhollow divots minimize friction and stock on food, while the curved blade allows the knife to easily glide along the contours of bone. High levels of chromium (Cr) are added to the steel for excellent stain resistance.
- The curved blade allows the knife to easily glide along the contours of bone, which is particularly useful for deboning meat.
- High amount of chromium add on to the steel provide good stain resistance, making the blade easier to maintain.
- The ice-tempered blade further enhances its resilience and longevity.
- The scalpel-like edge is hand finished to a mirror polish within a 13-15° angle, ensuring a razor-sharp cutting edge.
- Some folks prefer chef knives over boning knives for cutting up a whole carcass.
- The knife may require more frequent sharpening than most knives.
This show-stopping chef's knife is made with ThyssenKrupp German stainless steel. It features a hand-sharpened edge that is perfectly balanced between thin slicing and maximum resilience. The blade is also stain-resistant, precisely tempered, and has a polished spine for a comfortable pinch grip. The full tang design adds strength, while the fuller groove near the spine reduces friction and stuck-on food.
- Precision-forged with high-quality ThyssenKrupp German stainless steel
- Ultra-sharp, wear-resistant, and has a precisely tempered, stain-resistant blade
- Fuller groove near the spine reduces friction and stuck-on food, while the polished spine provides a comfortable pinch grip
- While this knife has a higher price tag to it, it’s worth the investment for any home cook or seasoned chef.
- Some users may prefer a different handle material or shape than the one on this boning knife.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
What is the simpliest way to cut a whole chicken?
The easiest way to cut a whole chicken is first to remove the wings, then cut through the skin between the breasts and the legs. Next, separate the legs from the rest of the body by bending them back and cutting through the joint.
How do you cut up a entire chicken into portions?
To cut a whole chicken into portions, start by removing the wings, then cut through the skin between the breasts and the legs. Next, separate the legs from the rest of the body by bending them back and cutting through the joint. Finally, cut each breast in half, and cut the back into smaller pieces.
How do you cut up a whole chicken after cooking?
To cut up a whole chicken after cooking, let it chill for a few minutes, then take out the legs by pulling them away from the body and slicing through the joint. Next, remove the breasts by cutting along the center bone and pulling the meat away from the ribs. Finally, separate the wings and cut the back into smaller pieces.
How do you clean and cut a whole chicken?
To clean and cut a whole chicken, start by removing any excess fat and giblets from the inside of the chicken. Wash the chicken well with cold water and let it air dry. Maneuver a sharp knife to cut up the chicken into pieces.