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How to Cut Up a Chicken

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Yesterday we got four fresh organic chickens from one of Justin’s co-workers. I knew I’d have to cut them up myself, so before hand I did some research. A few months ago Kat posted a link on her blog to a video that gives good directions. So I watched that. It seemed pretty simple. And it was! Who knew. You can go to Kat’s blog to get the link if you want to see the video. I’ll give a very basic run down of how I did it. I only cut up 2 birds. The second one went a lot faster than the first. With a little practice you could probably do a whole chicken in 5-10 min. Be sure to use a good, sharp knife.

1. Cut off the wings, right at the joint. Then cut off the tip of the wing to use in stock. There really isn’t any meat on it.

2. Cut off the legs. Start cutting around the drumstick. As you pull on it you’ll see where the thigh is and just follow that along.

3. Separate the drumstick from the thigh. There is a natural line of fat at the top of the drumstick that you can use as a cutting guide.

4. Cut off the breasts. Make a slit down the middle. And gradually cut as you pull the breast away from the bone (one on each side).

5. Remove the tender from the breast. You don’t have to do this. But it’s simple. The tender naturally pulls away.

That’s it. You can leave the skin on or remove it from any of the pieces. I left it on. Pretty simple. Maybe next year I’ll be daring enough to order more chickens now that I know how easy it is. And if I can do it while nauseous anyone can do it 🙂  I vacuum sealed and froze all of the chicken after cutting it up. And I used all of the scraps for stock.


  1. Don Voogt says:

    Mary: What did you do with the backs? I find those the hardest to deal with. Also, can you find out what breed of chickens the fella raised, and were they raised on pasture? I am very interested; they looked like nice meaty birds. Dad

  2. Sara says:

    Those look like huge chickens! Very nice! I thought about doing a step by step post with pics when I got my 12 birds a couple weeks ago, but never took the pics. I never knew butchering chickens seemed so daunting to some until you mentioned something about it a few months ago. And I never knew there were videos… though it doesn’t surprise me b/c there are videos for everything. My grandma taught me how to butcher a whole chicken many many many years ago. 🙂 I remember my cousins and I helping her on so many occasions… especially on noodle day(s) when we’d help make tons of homemade noodles, butcher 5 or 6 birds, and then would get a huge batch of chicken noodle soup going. Great memories!

  3. Kat says:

    I always get so giddy when people try things like this! Looks like you did a great job. I’m waiting for my next batch of chickens from a local farmer and will cut them up again. I like that after a few times, it becomes so quick and simple. Great pics!

  4. The Voogts says:

    Dad – I don’t do anything with the backs. I throw them in with the rest of the scraps to make chicken stock. Then when the stock is done I can remove any extra meat from the bones.

    Sara – Wow, 12 chickens is a lot! But I bet you’re glad to have all that great chicken in your freezer. We aren’t eating it very often lately (doesn’t sound good to me), so hopefully this will last us a little while at least.

    Kat – it really is pretty easy after a few tries. Thanks for posting that link! Good luck with your next batch.

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