How to Cut Whole Chicken?

Learning how to cut a whole chicken is an essential knife skill for any home cook. Even though pre-cut chicken pieces are convenient, cutting your chicken is much cheaper, and you can also use the carcass to make delicious chicken broth. Here are seven steps to get you started. Before you begin, ensure your chicken is completely dry and prepared for cutting.

Chicken has a lot of good nutrients and can be a great part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Since chicken is low in calories but has a lot of protein, it may help you lose weight if that is one of your goals. Studies show that eating more protein may make you feel fuller, help you lose weight faster, and keep your lean body mass. Protein can also help muscles grow when combined with resistance training. Also, protein is a part of calcium metabolism and is important for bone health.

How to Cut Whole Chicken?

How to Cut Whole Chicken?

To remove the legs and wings, slice down the backbone and leg bone. You should also cut between two joints on the breasts. This will separate the meat from the skin. The skin on the back is more attached to the fat. Once you’ve separated the meat from the skin, you can proceed to cut the breasts and thighs. Be careful not to slice through the skin, as it will fall off. You can save the backbone for stock.

To cut the chicken breasts, start by cutting them close to the rib cage. Doing this exposes the tenderloin. Once cut, repeat on the other sides. This will make it easier for the cook to get even cooking. Then, use the same technique for the chicken legs. When you’re finished, your chicken is ready to be served. A delicious chicken meal is the result of your hard work.

1. Prep

Place the chicken breast side up on a cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels.

2. Remove the Legs

Cut where the leg meets the breast, pull the leg away from the breast, and cut through the skin. Now, pull the leg away with more force until you pop the joint (hip bone) out of its socket and then cut away at the joint. On the other side, please do it again.

3. Remove the Wings

Turn the chicken on its side and find the joint (not the bone) where the wing is attached to the body. Pull it away to get rid of the wing and cut through the joint. Do the same thing to the second wing.

4. Remove the Backbone

Turn the body over and use kitchen shears to cut through the fat line where the back and breast meet (see the last image in the collage above). Take out the spine.

5. Separate the Breast

Turn the breast over, so the skin is on the bottom, and look for a thin white line in the middle. That’s the cartilage, and right there is where you should cut. If you cut through it, the breast will come apart.

6. Cut the Breast

If you want to cut the breast into smaller pieces (this will help the breast cook evenly with the smaller pieces of chicken such as the thigh and drumstick). Turn the breast over, so the skin is on top. Then, use your chef’s knife to cut through the breast almost in half/off-center to the thicker side. This will make the thinner piece bigger, which will help the chicken cook more evenly.

7. Separate the Leg

Skip this step if your recipe calls for leg quarters. Find the fat white line between the drumstick and the leg and cut through it to separate the leg. Make sure you cut between the joint and not the bone.

Things to Consider When Cutting Up a Whole Chicken


You may have realized by now that you have more than eight parts. Also, you might be wondering what you could do with those extra parts. Well, it might not be so common in some countries. But in some parts of the world, the backbone and neck of a chicken are often used in dishes. Aside from that, you can also make broth or stock with the “leftovers.” So, if you have room in your freezer, you might want to put the pieces in a bag that can be closed and opened again.

Skip the gloves if you could.

Hand Washing

To emphasize, you should wash your hands now and then when dealing with chicken meat or any meat at that.

What are Chicken Legs?

A chicken leg goes from the claw to what would be the animal’s hip. A chicken is cut into two quarters for the legs and two for the breasts. Each leg quarter, or leg for short, comprises the drumstick and the thigh. You can keep the two pieces together or sell them as two separate cuts. Thighs can be bought with or without bones, but drumsticks and whole legs usually come with bones. These cuts are cheap, but whole chicken legs are usually the most affordable.

Chickens always use their legs. All of that exercise builds up red muscle fibers, making the meat on chicken legs darker than on chicken breasts and wings. Dark meat has more fat, making it taste and feel more juicy and flavorful.

How to Cook a Whole Chicken in the Oven?

Step 1: Prepare the Chicken

Set the oven temperature to 375°F. Please note how much your bird weighs because that will tell you how long to roast it in the oven. Place the chicken breast side up in a shallow roasting pan. Cooking twine, which costs $6 at Williams-Sonoma, can be used to tie the drumsticks together, so the chicken keeps its shape and cooks evenly without drying out the legs. Since the wings are small and will cook the fastest if they are sticking out, tuck the tips of the wings under the bird, so they don’t get burned.

Tip: Sometimes, gizzards or other internal organs are stuffed in the cavity of the chicken; remove this packet before cooking and discard or save it for another use.

Step 2: Season the Whole Chicken

While the oven is heating up, brush the whole chicken with olive oil or butter and season it with salt, pepper, and, if you want, crushed dried herbs like thyme or oregano.
Tip: Always wash your hands, countertops, and utensils in hot, soapy water between each step of food preparation. Bacteria on raw poultry, meat, or fish can contaminate other food exposed to the same surfaces.

Step 3: Cook Whole Chicken in the Oven

While the oven is heating up, brush the whole chicken with olive oil or butter and season it with salt, pepper, and, if you want, crushed dried herbs like thyme or oregano.

How long to roast a chicken at 375°F:

  • 2½- to 3-pound chicken: Roast for 1 to 1¼ hours
  • 3½- to 4-pound chicken: Roast 1¼ to 1½ hours
  • 4½- to 5-pound chicken: Roast 1¾ to 2 hours
Make it a Meal: Cut 1 pound of red potatoes, three carrots, one medium peeled turnip, and one medium onion into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and oil, then toss to coat. During the last 45 to 50 minutes of roasting, put vegetables around the chicken in the pan and stir them occasionally.

Step 4: Make Sure the Chicken Is Done

When the juices run clear, the chicken is no longer pink, and the drumsticks move easily in their sockets, the chicken is done cooking. But don’t just depend on these tests. Always use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh to check if a roast chicken is done, and the number should say 170°F. The USDA says that all poultry is safe to eat at 165°F, but our Test Kitchen found that thigh meat had a better texture when cooked to 170°F. Before putting the chicken in the oven, put the thermometer in the thigh to get an accurate reading (it stays in the whole time).

Step 5: Let it Stand.

Let the whole roasted chicken sit out for 15 minutes, covered in foil, before serving it. This will help the juices move around the bird, making the meat moist and tender. Carve and dish up. If you have leftover baked chicken, put it in a container that won’t let air in and put it in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you want to use it after that, you should freeze it.

Tip: Instead of cooking the whole chicken, you can use our great guide on baking chicken to make roasted chicken breasts or other bone-in chicken pieces. Then you’ll know how long to roast chicken legs and how to bake chicken breasts in the oven.

Since you know how to bake a whole chicken in the oven, you can get as creative as you want with your new spices. Try one of our tasty roasted chicken recipes, like orange-sage or fiery lemon, to get ideas. The only thing you’ll have to do is decide what sides to serve with it.

Is Chicken Good or Bad for Weight Loss?

Chicken isn’t a miracle food for losing weight, but it has been linked to a lower chance of becoming overweight or obese (as part of a vegetable-rich diet).

Research does show that a high-protein diet can help you lose weight, and chicken is a great way to get more protein into your diet. Researchers think that eating a lot of protein can make you feel fuller, which will make you eat fewer calories and carbs in your next meal. In an ideal situation, eating 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal can make you feel less hungry, help you keep a healthy weight, and improve cardiometabolic risk factors (like triglycerides, blood pressure, and waist circumference).

How to Select and Store Chicken?

Have a plan before you go to the grocery store. First, buy things like whole-grain cereal, whole-grain dry pasta, canned beans with low sodium, and food in bulk. Then, go to the produce section. Lastly, stop at the dairy and meat/fish sections. When you buy meats like chicken last, you can be sure that they won’t be out at room temperature for too long. Check the sell-by, use-by, or expiration dates on packaged chicken before you buy it, and don’t buy chicken after that date.
The USDA or the state you live in checks on chickens, and the package should have a seal that says so. Occasionally, the package will also come with a grade. The best chicken is Grade A, which means it is full and meaty, has clean skin, and is not damaged or discolored. You should also read the list of what’s in the food. Some chicken is made juicier by adding salt or a marinade. You shouldn’t eat this kind of chicken with high blood pressure. Instead, you should marinate your chicken by hand to control how much sodium is in it. Since grocery stores sell meat by weight, seasoning your chicken could save money.
No matter where you buy chicken, it should be well-wrapped and whole (not torn or leaking). Please put it in your fridge or freezer as soon as you get home. Rewrap pieces into smaller packages to make them easier to defrost (in freezer-safe foil or plastic bags). Use whole chicken within a year of freezing it and chicken pieces within nine months. To ensure you remember when to use it, write the date it was frozen on each package.

What is the Best Way to Defrost a Chicken?

You can thaw a frozen chicken in the microwave, the fridge, or in cold water. Put the frozen food in the fridge overnight or for 24 hours. A pound of chicken will take 30 minutes to thaw in a bowl of cold water, which should be changed every 30 minutes. If you choose to thaw the chicken in the microwave, cook it right away. The USDA says you should always throw the frozen chicken in the fridge, the microwave, or a sealed bag and put it in cold water. Chicken should always be cooked as soon as it is defrosted. Raw meat that is between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C) is more likely to have bacteria growing on it.


Most people are familiar with the phrase “tastes like chicken,” and chicken legs taste like chicken. Because they have dark, fatty meat, they tend to have a softer texture and feel in the mouth, and the taste is also a little stronger than that of chicken breast. The drumstick and thigh are both parts of a chicken leg, and when the pieces of chicken are left together, they are sometimes called a leg quarter or a hind quarter.

However, some people use the word “leg” to talk about just the drumstick. Dark meat chicken legs are a versatile cut that soaks up marinades well and stays juicy and delicious when roasted, braised, or grilled. Chicken legs are a cheap way to make chicken any night of the week, and they are easy to cook and full of flavor.