Cutting up a whole chicken is not as daunting as it sounds! With the right tools and approach, it will take you less than 5 minutes once you get it down.

whole chicken cut up

Why deal with a whole chicken when you can buy the pieces pre-cut at the store? First off, buying whole chickens saves you money. You’ll spend almost half the money for just as much bird!

Secondly, you can use the bones to make broth. The backbone of the chicken makes the best tasting broth and you can’t purchase it by itself at the market. There’s only one way to get it and that’s by doing the dirty work yourself.

Butchering a whole chicken was the norm growing up in a Ukrainian household. My mom really knew how to stretch a dollar and use a bird to make several different dishes throughout the week. I always have her disapproving voice in the back of my head when I am tempted to buy chicken by the piece!

When you purchase a whole chicken, you get to play with a bunch of different flavors and dishes. As a kid, I loved chicken necks and gizzards. In fact, my 5 siblings and I loved them SO much, that we would fight over them! Imagine that, kids fighting over necks and gizzards!

Whole chicken on a cutting board

How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken?

Before you get started, suit yourself up for battle! Make sure you have a SHARP kitchen knife. A boning knife works best. Also, grab a pair of kitchen shears. To get your work station ready, set the bird on top of a sturdy, large wooden cutting board.

  1. Start by removing the legs. Find the space where the thigh connects with the breast and cut through the skin and flesh until you can see the bone. Bend the thigh until it pops out of its socket. Look for the fat line (it will mark where the joint is!) and cut through it using a sharp knife.
  2. To separate the drumstick from the thigh, cut along the fat line that joins them.
  3. To remove the wings, use your finger to get a feeling of where the joint is. Cut through it with your knife.
  4. To separate the backbone from the breast, turn the chicken on its side and look for a thick fat line. Cut through it using kitchen scissors.
  5. When removing the breast, make a small cut in between them. Turn the breast over, and applying pressure with your hands, break the bone. At this point, it should be easy to cut it into two pieces.
  6. Your end result should be 8 separate pieces: 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 breasts and 2 drumsticks. Also, you will have that coveted backbone to make stock with!

Chicken Recipes to Make

Now that you have the chicken pieces, here are some great recipes you can make with it.

  • Instant Pot Chicken Thighs – These thighs come out so juicy on the inside and have an awesome, crispy skin. Since they are made in an Instant Pot, they’re on your table in under 30 minutes.
  • Grilled Chicken – This chicken is marinated in ranch dressing and goes great with everything! Prep it on a Sunday and use it for different meals throughout the week.
  • Air Fryer Chicken Wings – Have a chicken wing craving, but don’t want to take the time to deep fry? Make chicken wings in an air fryer to save time AND calories.
  • Baked Chicken Legs – My boys love eating chicken legs. These only take 10-minutes to prep and go great with any side dish.
  • One-Pan Roasted Chicken & Potatoes – Looking for a quick, one-pan dinner? Roast all your freshly cut chicken pieces with potatoes, carrots and onions for a classic, no-fuss meal.

About Author

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.