Chicken Butchery

Chicken Butchery 101

We are a society obsessed by convenience, however, complain that we spend too much money.  

Buying a whole chicken or 2 when they are on sale and taking 10 minutes out of your life to butcher it yourself saves you SO much money.  Sometimes you can get whole chickens for as little as 29 cents a pound if you catch the right sale.  Boneless chicken breast can sometimes be 4.99 a pound!!  And organic chicken sections?  Forget it.  Who can afford that constantly?  I know I can't on my single mom budget. 

Not only do you get the satisfaction of butchering your own bird, but you can save the carcass and freeze it for stocks.  Homemade stock is amazing, because it can be used for SO many things and you can freeze it in pint containers or quart size ziplock bags to use as needed.  Okay, I'm getting off track.  Back to the bird.

Oh you don't know how to butcher a chicken?  Well, here I am, to save the day and your piggy bank.  Trust me, it's not as hard or crazy as it looks.  

Here is a step by step guide and tips on how to butcher the perfect bird.  

Knives ready!!!


You always want to work on a plastic cutting board.  NEVER use wood cutting boards for raw meats.  Here I have a 7 lb whole chicken.  It is breast side up and just waiting for me to start performing surgery on it.  

First thing we want to do, is to make 2 slits where the leg connects with the breast.  Cut just deep enough so that you can see the fat lines.  Press the legs down on your board so that they seem to be flat.

Next, flip your bird over and feel for the section where the thigh ends and the body of the bird begins.  You should be able to get your fingers down into the "groove".

Now take the leg and thigh section that you just found and place your thumb in the groove.  Bend the leg and thigh toward you until you hear the snap of the bone breaking off from the body.  Obviously, do this on both sides.  

Flip the bird back over to the breast side up, and using your bone break as a guide, cut the thigh/leg from the body.  You will be left with the leg attached to the thigh.

With the bird still breast side up, feel along the center for the breast bone.  This breast bone is going to be your guide in removing your breast from the bone.  (If you would like to leave your bone on the breast, I will show you how to do that at a later date).  

Using the breast bone as a guide, start making long sweeps with your blade, while pressing against the bone for a guide.  The breast will start to come apart and you should just follow the guide nature gave you in the bone and your common knowledge of what a chicken breast looks like.  Also towards the front of the breast section you will hit the wishbone with your knife.  Use the wishbone as a guide for the top part of the breast.

The chicken is really one of the easiest birds to butcher, because with the fat lines and bones, it really is like nature's guide to perfect chicken butchery.

Once you have removed both breasts, you will see a fat line where the wing connects to the body.  Again, that is nature's little guide.  Cut the wing off using the fat line as your guide.  

Remember, there are joints and bones.  This was at one point an animal.  Feel free to poke around and find the joints and try to break it, or slice through where the joints connect so you don't have to go through straight bone.  Practice makes perfect.  Don't get frustrated.  Pretty soon you will be able to butcher a chicken in under 3 minutes.  

You should now have 2 wings.    You're doing good, but we're not done yet.

Next we need to separate the thigh from the leg.  Again, nature has provided its fat line for a guide.  You can feel around for the bone/joint but this section is a little more difficult to cut.  Find the area with your fingers where to make the cut.  Place your blade on the section and use the bottom palm of your hand and smash down on the blade to get through the bone.  You might have to whack it once or twice.  Don't worry, it's already dead.

Now we are left with the carcass.  Don't throw that away dummy!!  Wrap it up and freeze it so you can use it for stock.  I'll teach you how to make awesome stock another day.  So just save it.  Please and thank you.  

Okay, so one more thing.  You can skip this if you want, but I'll show you how to do it anyway.  We want to tuck our wings.  This is good for frying and baking.  Wings are delicious, probably my favorite part on the chicken.  

So, we have our wing and it is facing up.  

Flip it over in your hands.

 Take the drumstick part and fold it towards you and up.

Take the wing tip and pull it up and tuck it in front of the drumstick.

Your wing should look like this.  


 That wasn't so bad was it? Oh stop, you sound like a baby.  Besides, isn't it an accomplishment you just saved however much money and are about to eat the chicken you butchered?  C'mon that's cool.

So here are your lovely chicken pieces.  The two pieces at the bottom are the tenderloins that I removed from the breast.  This is what chicken tenders in the store are made from, and now you know why they are so expensive.  Al that work for two little tenderloins.

Listen, if this is your first time, don't get discouraged.  It's not as hard as you're making it.  Keep practicing and you will be a pro before you know it.  

For this and other tips, recipes, dinner suggestions and witty banter, "like" me on Facebook at:  Facebook - Rotund Chef

Happy butchering!!

Deliciously yours,
The Rotund Chef


  1. Thank you, Krissy. I am going to cut up chicken and then fry that baby. It looks so good. You Rock.


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