Dismantle a Chicken




About: Professional maker and eater of food. Donuts.. Cheese.. Chocolate.. Beer.. these are a few of my favourite things! @karakabangpow

As a recovering vegetarian, I am always learning all sorts of new meat related skills. Most people probably already know how to do this, but I had to look it up, so I figured there would be other meat newbies like me who could use the instructable.

I started buying whole chickens and dismantling them myself to save some money. The more slices a butcher does for you, the more money you pay. Not only do you get more meat for your buck, but you can use the valuable bones for making your own chicken stock. So here is how to take apart a whole chicken, neatly, in about 5 minutes.

I am doing two at a time here so don't be confused when you suddenly see 4 chicken wings. It's not a mutant chicken, they were just on sale!


- 1 very sharp chef's or boning knife
- Clean cutting board
- Bowl or ziplock bag for the meat


- 1 whole chicken


Separate the wings. Cut in half, and remove the tips.
Remove the legs by slicing between body and thigh, popping the hip bone, and removing it.
Separate thigh from drumstick by cutting cleanly through the middle joint.
Remove the breasts by slicing them off of breast bone.
Cut carcass in half and use for soup stock!

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Step 1: The Wings

With the chicken breast side down, hold up the wing and make a slice just underneath it to reveal the joint. Slice cleanly through the joint. Repeat with the other wing.

If you're cooking the wing, you can remove the nubbin. There's very little to eat on it and they usually burn anyway. I set mine aside for making soup stock later.

If you'd like, separate the wing into 2 sections by cutting clean through the joint at the elbow.

Step 2: The Legs

To remove the legs, flip the chicken over so it's breast side up.

Pull the leg away from the body and slice through the skin between the body and both sides of the thigh.

Bend the whole leg firmly away from the body until you see the ball of the thigh bone pops from the hip socket.  Cut between the ball and the socket to separate the leg.

Repeat with the other leg.

You can separate the thigh and drumstick by cutting firmly through the joint between the drumstick and the thigh.

Step 3: The Breast

There's a few ways to do the breast, but I like to keep from slicing through the bones as much as possible.

I bring my knife to the side of the beast, where you can see it connects with the breastbone.

Slice along the bone cleanly, following the shape of the breast. As you come to the middle, stop.

Bring your knife up over the breast, and slice along the middle to separate the breast.

This saves having to much around with cutting through the rib cage and connective tissues, but it does run the risk of leaving more meat on the bone. Repeat on the other side.

Step 4: The Rest

There, you now have a whole chicken separated neatly into wings, thighs, drumstick and breasts.

Now you have cleaned the meat from the bones, you also have a chicken carcass left over.

You can toss it in the garbage (sacrilege!), cut it in half and use it to make soup stock, freeze it for later, or voodoo up yourself an army of walking chicken skeletons.

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    15 Discussions


    2 years ago

    or put something plastic under it


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Raw meat on a wooden chopping board is a big no-no.
    E-coli can hide in the grooves in the wood, very bad for cross contamination.Better to use plastic.

    10 replies

    Just clean your board before and after use. We use wooden boards for the last 50 years and never died of any E-coli or any thing else. The air you breath also contain thing that is not good for you but you don't stop breathing???


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    This little nugget of disinfo has been disproven time and time again, and has been known by chefs as a myth for years but the practice of using plastic was forced on them by the USDA.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I've had a tempered glass cutting board for about 3 years now. it's far easier to clean than wood or plastic, and still looks brand new. There's no scratches for anything to "hide" in or discoloration from various fluids. I'd recommend it to anyone, and doubly so if you're one that worries about cross contamination due to your teen not properly cleaning things :)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    How is your tempered glass cutting board for your knives? Do you find it's dulling the crap out of them, or that they're okay? Ive always wondered about this, and if its okay on the knives (I have to sharpen my crappy knife every 5 minutes anyway) I might just try to pick one up myself.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    the knife set I have is a cheaper serrated one, the kind that are supposed to never need sharpened. they seem to be holding up OK, I've been using the knifes for about 9 years but only on the glass for a couple years. it' possible that the serrated blade makes a difference, the points probably are more dull, but for most cutting they aren't the primary cutting surface.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That article is great. I know the health inspector wanted us to replace our plastic boards just as often as the wood ones...

    Also! Im always arguing with people (my mum..) about their damn salty water boils faster theory. Its just not sound science, damn it! Thanks for the link!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    impossible to sanitize the cuts in the plastic- sanitizing plastic cutting boards is a myth. People get sick due to bacteria because of susceptibility- in other words, there is a weakness in their system that allows an organism opportunity to over-power. sorry.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I totally agree with the contamination issue, especially as this particular board is pretty dang groovy. But, I'm not at home for the next couple of months so gotta work with what ya got sometimes.

    My solution is to keep a spray bottle of 1/10 solution of bleach and water, and give it a spray, let it sit, then clean it in very, very hot soapy water. I feel like this should keep us from puking our pants from chicken disease for the time being.

    However, I would recommend to use a plastic cutting board that is dedicated to poultry only. In the commercial kitchens Ive worked in we were required to replace even our plastic, chicken only, cutting boards every 6 months.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    wood cutting board doesn't need to be sanitized...cellulose cells draw water off bacteria cells via osmosis...on the subject of bacteria- bacteria cells in our bodies out number our own cells ten-to-one, we depend on bacteria to survive- that demon e-coli is what converts our food into nutrition. Our desire to sanitize our world has had the same outcome as the 'war on drugs'...it has created a monster we cannot kill...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice tutorial, excellent 'ible. Thank you for sharing. I remember my Grandma's chicken butchers on the farm- man, those women could cut up a chicken in the blink of the eye and the chatter never slowed down all day! I really miss the days of the family-sized farm- hard work but you made a living and the family was together.