No matter how you slice it, breaking a whole chicken into smaller parts is messy business. You have to get your hands a little dirty, but it’s worth the effort because of the money and time you save and the convenience you create.
Buying a whole chicken is basically like buying in bulk. It’s almost always more cost effective compared to buying pre-butchered breasts, thighs or wings. You’ll also spend less time cooking because the bones take longer to cook through—and you can eat faster because there are no bones to slow you down!
Cutting your chicken is ultimately more convenient for future you, too. You can freeze any pieces you don’t need right away, and they’ll be that much closer to being prepared. Just thaw and cook rather than running to the store. Or, if you need the whole chicken in order to feed a crowd, you can please just about everyone in one meal by offering them their preferred piece.
Extend a leg from the body and cut through the skin without cutting into the meat to expose the leg’s interior.
Forcefully bend the leg back from the body until the ball joint pops free from the socket.
Cut the leg from the body, through the joint, as close as possible to the backbone. Try to cut the “oyster” away with the leg—you’ll find this tasty nugget of meat just above the joint, in an indentation on the backbone. Repeat with the other leg.
To separate the drumstick and thigh, look for the line of fat between them — it marks the location of the joint you need to cut through.
Stand the chicken up on its tail and with the tip of your knife, cut just to the right of the neck down through the collarbone and ribs on both sides to remove the back and neck in one piece.
Flip the breast skin side down and split the breast from the neck end.
Cut the breast in half to get two breast pieces of relatively equal size. Repeat with the other side of the breast.
Congratulations on cutting up your own whole chicken. Now cook it and enjoy!