How to Divide a Whole Chicken

Originally posted on April 2014.

I began buying whole chickens a few years ago when I was doing a little cost comparing while grocery shopping. Fear overcame me because I did not know how to cut a chicken! And it felt gross! But after watching this video a few times, and practicing on a few chickens, I saw how easy it actually is. After a few weeks, I realized the my ethics had shifted, and I wanted to buy whole chickens because it meant that I knew that the entire bird was used. I hold the belief that if one is to eat meat, then one should know how to properly use all of the pieces. The ick factor goes away once you recognize that what

you are doing is thanking a animal for giving their life, for your own nutritional gain.

Let’s start with the dividing process.

Things you will need:

  • A good knife or kitchen shears
  • A cutting board that is used for cutting meats.  These can be bought at any kitchen retail store
  • A stockpot to put the scraps that will later be used to make stock
  • A Whole Chicken
    • I get my chickens from a friend who I know farm raises the chickens and they have a grass-fed diet.  Ask your local grocery store where the meat comes from.  Start getting to know your meat and the people who raise the animals that you are about to consume
  1. Place the chicken (unwashed) on the cutting board, breast side up.
  2. Straighten the legs and search for the joint.  Make a slit in the skin and break the joint.
  3.  Pull out the Chicken legs and break the joint and slice through the joint between the thighbone and the breast.
  4.  Once the piece is separated on both sides, search for the joint between the drumstick and the thigh, put the joint back and slice through the joint to separate the drumstick from the thigh.
  5.  Pull the wing out and find the joint between the wing and the breast.  Slice through the joint.
  6.  With the breasts up, place your knife next to the breastbone and slice down one side of the chicken to expose the carcass and to remove one of the breasts.  Once this breast is removed, do the same thing to the other side.
  7.  Place your carcass and any of the chicken pieces you don’t want to eat and place in your stockpot.

You now have 8 pieces of chicken and about to have homemade chicken stock!

Wash your hands with soap and warm water!

It is more economical to buy a whole chicken and separate it yourself.  This is great for the pocket-book.  It does take a while to get the hang of cutting a chicken into pieces, so don’t stress over the time it takes.  It gets easier with practice.

Some other reasons that I really like cutting my own chicken is:

  • It allows me to make chicken stock  (recipe below)
  • I know what the product is that I am eating
  • There is a connectedness that I experience with a slicing a chicken.  I know that each piece of the chicken is used for good use and not just disposed of.

About the Author:

A native Texan who, after being diagnosed with food allergies and Celiac Disease in her mid-twenties, wanted to help others who drastically had to change their diets later in life. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, where she operates Mary Lee Kitchen.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.