You may never have thought about how to chop up a whole chicken as you usually buy pre-cut chicken. This article will tell you why it’s a great idea to buy a whole chicken and do it yourself instead! 

Many recipes will ask you to use individual parts of a chicken. For example, you might need a few chicken breasts, thighs, legs, or wings. However, buying all these parts can be expensive. When you’re buying cuts of raw chicken, you’re paying for someone else’s time to chop up a whole chicken when you could just do it yourself! Buying a whole chicken to chop up is very straightforward and can save you a lot of money. 

This article will take you through the very simple steps involved when you’re trying to chop up a whole chicken. It’ll also advise you on the utensils you’ll need, and any safety issues you need to be aware of. We hope this article will give you the confidence to try this very basic process yourself! 

What Kitchen Utensils Do I Need to chop up a whole chicken?

Luckily, chopping up a whole chicken only needs a few basic kitchen utensils which you probably already have. 

Start by finding a decent chopping board to cut on. To avoid contaminating other food and keep your meat fresh, we advise having a chopping board that you only use for meat. Many kitchen supply stores even sell colored or labeled chopping boards for meat, fish, and vegetables for this reason. 

Second, you want a large chef’s knife. Make sure your knife is big and strong enough to cut through the meat. You might also want to sharpen your knife on a whetstone or even with an electric knife sharpener to ensure you get a clean cut with ease.

Other than that, you don’t need any special skills or equipment to chop up a whole chicken! 

Simple Steps To Chop Up A Whole Chicken 

Below are the three simple steps you need to follow to chop up a whole chicken.

Cutting Up The Legs

Legs are the first part to focus on when you’re going to chop up a whole chicken.

First, place the chicken on your chopping board breast side up (that’s the top of the chicken facing upwards). Pull the legs (the bigger drumsticks on the side of the body) away from the body one at a time. Cut through the skin between the drumstick or leg and the breast. Then you can continue to slice through the meat and pull the leg away from the body until it comes out of the leg socket. Keep cutting to remove the leg completely. Repeat on the other side. 

Once the legs are cut up, chop some of the thigh meat into separate portions. Do this by turning each leg skin-down and cutting through the joints. You then end up with thighs and drumsticks. 

Removing The Wings

Next, place the chicken on one side and pull the wings, one at a time, away from the body. You can then use your sharp knife to cut through the skin and flesh to remove the wing. Repeat on the other side. 

Once you’ve done this, half of the process to chop up a whole chicken is done!

Chop Up The Breast

Begin to remove the breasts once all of the legs and wings are removed. Do this part carefully because chicken breast is the most popular and expensive cut of chicken meat. With the chicken breast-up, place your knife at a 90-degree angle and cut through the chicken to separate the back from the breast. You can guide where you cut by seeing where the rib cage is, and cutting through it. Set aside the backbone for later if you want. 

Now, with the breast facing skin down, cut through the center of the piece to separate the breast into two pieces. You can cut the breasts into quarters by chopping through the bone and can remove the bone if desired. 

There will be roughly six to ten pieces of meat to use when you have chopped up the chicken fully.

What Can I Do With The Chicken meat?

You might be wondering what to do with the meat and leftovers after you’ve chopped up a whole chicken.

Chicken thighs and breasts are great for curry, stews, roasting, and many other recipes. Wings are ideal for smaller snacks with marinades. There are plenty of recipes online and in books which you can look to for suggestions on how to cook different chicken parts.

You will be left with a bit of waste to throw away (the carcass). However, this can also be used to make soup or chicken stock if you want to take a zero-waste approach. If you set aside the backbone from the chicken, you can boil this up to make stock or stew, or even freeze it to do this later. 

Safety Tips

It’s important to know how to be safe when handling raw meat and sharp chef’s knives. 

You should always wash your hands before and after handling the chicken. Use a chopping board that is only used for meat, and make sure it’s clean before and after use. Keep your fingers out of the way of the knife when cutting. 

Finally, make sure your chicken pieces are well wrapped and secured before storing them in your fridge or freezer. Always check the expiry date, color, and smell of the meat you’re using so you don’t eat it when it’s gone off. 


So, as you can see, the steps to chop up a whole chicken are very straightforward. Give it a go and you might end up saving yourself money and making some great food in the process!

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