How to Debone Chicken

Follow this guide to learn how to break down a chicken, then watch our how-to video.

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How-To: Debone a Chicken

Save money and get more use out of a chicken by learning to break it down yourself.

Step 1: Remove the Legs

First, remove the legs. Make the first cut at the natural crease between the leg and the body.

Step 2: Cut to the Bone

Cut down to the bone.

Step 3: Pop Out the Thigh

Now, pop the thigh out of the joint.

Step 4: Cut Off the Oyster

Be sure to get the oyster — it's part of the leg, but it lies on the back. Run your knife along the backbone at the leg joint to separate.

Step 5: Cut Off the Wings

Next, cut the wings off. Find the joint between the bones again. If your knife hits bone, move it and eventually you'll find a joint. Folding the wing tip back makes for a nice presentation. Tip: Use good food-safety practices. Wash your hands and equipment after preparing raw chicken.

Step 6: Break Down the Body

Cut between the front and the back ribs.

Step 7: Remove the Rib Cage

Pull back on the rib cage to remove it.

Step 8: Make a Notch

Flip it so the chicken is rib side up. Make a notch in the cartilage at the top of the sternum.

Step 9: Pop Out the Breastbone

Then, pop out the breastbone. Use a towel if the breastbone is too slippery to grab.

Step 10: Bone-In Chicken Breasts

Separate the breasts with your knife. Now you've got bone-in chicken breasts.

Step 11: Separate the Legs and Thighs

Flip them over. You're looking for the space in the joint like before — this is called the fat line. It's nature's way of outlining where you need to cut. Again, if you hit resistance, reposition the knife to slip through the joint.

Step 12: Save Money

You can break down a raw or cooked chicken this way, and you'll save some cash by doing these steps at home.