How to Break Down a Chicken: A Step-by-Step Guide

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

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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. Watch our how-to video for more.

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