If you aren’t going to roast or grill a whole bird, it needs to be cut up and here is how ya do it. You’ll get 2 breast halves, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, and the back bone. Special thanks to the folks over at Eatin’ Well- Enjoy – The Homesteader’s Wife

Lay the bird on its back. Wiggle a wing to determine where the joint attaches to the breast. To separate the wing from the breast, use a sharp knife to cut through the ball joint where it meets the breast. Repeat with the other wing. Now ya got 2 wings.


Pull a leg away from the body to see where it attaches. To remove the whole leg, first cut through the skin between the thigh and the breast. Continue to pull on the leg and wiggle it a bit to determine where the thigh meets the socket in the back. Use a boning knife or paring knife to cut through that joint. Repeat with the other leg.

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Place each leg skin-side down. Flex to see where the ball joint between the drumstick and thigh is located. Look for the thin line of fat that was perpendicular to the body. Cut through the line of fat to separate the thigh and drumstick, wiggling the joint as needed to determine where it is. Repeat with the other leg or leave as leg quarters.


To remove the backbone, start at the head end of the bird and cut through the rib cage on one side of the backbone with kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Repeat on the other side of the backbone to remove it completely. (If you’re not gonna cook this piece- throw it in a ziplock bag and store scraps in the freezer to make stock!)


To cut the breast into 2 halves, place it skin-side down, exposing the breastbone. To protect your hand, fold up a kitchen towel and place it on top of a heavy, sharp knife. Use a lot of pressure to cut through the reddish breast bone and whitish cartilage right down the center of the breast. Now you have 2 breast halves. Cut each breast half in half again, crosswise, if desired. (The wishbone is located at the thick part of the breast. If desired, tease the meat away from the 2 pieces of wishbone using your hands and/or a sharp knife to scrape the meat from the bone.)