How to cut up a whole chicken...don't panic, you can do it!

Being able to purchase a whole chicken and cut it up yourself opens up countless options for cooking methods and recipes. Here’s a step-by-step guide for the method we use for our pastured chickens.

From conversations we’ve had with our customers, the mere thought of cutting up a whole chicken is enough to cause a look of panic in many people’s eyes. This simple process may be intimidating to some, but by following this step-by-step guide, the intimidation bubble can be burst.

Not only can this open up new ways to enjoy your pastured chicken, it saves money and allows you to make use of the whole bird. Parts such as backs and wing tips that frequently are not used when the chicken is cooked whole can be saved for stocks or soup bases.

During the cut up process, you’ll want to use the weight of the bird to help you. Pick the bird up by the piece you are removing as you make your cuts, it will make it easier to find the natural separation spaces and joints.

Here we go

  1. Remove the legs

    • With the chicken on its back, pull the leg away from the body. Make a slit with your knife through the skin that connects the leg and breast.

    • Pull the leg further away exposing the joint between the thigh and body. Pick the leg up, extending the joint. Cut through the joint, between the two bones. Remember, use the weight of the bird to help separate as you do this. Repeat on the other side.

  2. Separate drumstick from thigh

    • Place each leg skin side down. There is a thin line of fat visible between the drumstick and thigh that shows you where the joint is. Cut right along the line of fat, feeling where the joint is to guide you. Again, cut BETWEEN the bones at the joint.

  3. Remove the wings

    • Again with the bird on it’s back, extend the wing to feel the joint with the body. Partially pick the chicken up by the wing , cut through the joint letting the weight of the bird separate the parts as you make the cut.

  4. Remove the backbone

    • Starting at the head end, with kitchen shears, cut through the rib cage on one side of the backbone then the other. There is a fat line to guide you here as well. Cut right along the fat line. (Save that back! you can’t beat it for making stock)

  5. Separate the breast into halves

    • With the breast skin side down, make a slit along the length of the breastbone. This will help make it easier to separate the breast in two

    • Flip the breast over and with both hands, bear down right in the center opposite where you made the slit. You will hear the bone crack

    • Even the breast skin back out, cut right down the middle where you have just broken the bone

    That’s it! You did it. You now have your pastured chicken in 8 pieces as the possibilities are endless.

    Take a look at this video that shows the entire process.