How to divide a whole chicken into joints just like a pro

How to divide a whole chicken into joints just like a pro

Cutting a chicken into four or eight joints may sound a bit daunting – but if you have the correct knife and follow these simple instructions it’s not so hard.  It’s also very rewarding.  A pack of two chicken breasts costs almost as much as a whole bird.  So, jointing it yourself means you get loads more chicken virtually for free - two legs, two wings and all the meat on the back.   You might get the giblets, liver and heart too, if that’s what you want (good for making gravy, amongst other things).  As an added bonus you’ll look like a skilled professional chef – great if you want to impress your family, friends or a significant other!

What kind of knife is best for jointing a whole chicken?

All of our chef’s knives, with a curved blade and pointed tip, will make it easy for you to cut a whole chicken into separate joints.  The same goes for our boning knives, try our 6” boning knife . Any of these knives will do the job equally well.

How to create four chicken joints

This is the most basic process.  You’ll end up with two bone-in breast quarters with wings attached, plus two bone-in leg quarters.  You’ll also have two wing tips and the back – reserve these bits and use them for making stock.

Step 1: Remove wing tips and the wishbone

Trimming the wing tips.  Take the first wing and cut the joint right at the wing tip.  Repeat with other wing.

Removing the wishbone.  This is located at the neck opening.  Use the tip of your knife to cut along each arm of the wishbone thereby separating it from the breast.  Then push your fingers behind the wishbone, separating it from any flesh that's still attached.  Grasp the apex of the wishbone, hooking your finger behind the part where the two arms join and then pull it out.

Step 2: Remove the legs

Grip the first drumstick and pull the leg outward from the body until the skin is stretched taught.  Cut through the skin between the leg and the body but don’t go any deeper.  Now twist the leg downward, away from the body, until the ball joint pops out of the socket. This shouldn't require much force.

Now use your knife to cut through the joint you just exposed.  Be sure to get the little morsel of meat that sits closest to the chicken's spine (this is called the oyster and is a particularly tasty part of the chicken). Repeat this process with the second leg.

Step 3:  Remove the back

Grip the chicken by the backbone and stand it vertically on your cutting board so the neck end is pointing downwards.  Sut through the skin and cartilage between the breast and the back.  Keep cutting until you get through the first or second ribs.


If you are using a boning knife you might find it helpful to use a larger chef knife, or a cleaver for the next stage. Our Classic 7" clever works wel for this step.  Using short but firm strokes continue cutting through the ribs.

Now cut through the shoulder bones on either side to separate the backbone from the breast.

Step 4: Split the breast in two

Place the breast skin side down on your board. Cut through either side of the sternum, using your free hand to press down firmly on the back of the blade until it cracks through the bone.

That’s it – you have four joints with the wing tips and backbone on the side for stock.

How to create eight chicken joints

With just four more swift strokes of your knife you can turn your quartered chicken into eight pieces - two bone-in breasts, two wings, two bone-in thighs, and two drumsticks.

Step 5: Separate drumsticks from the thighs

Take the first leg quarter and use your fingertip to locate the ball joint between the thigh and drumstick. Place the legs skin side down on your board – this makes it easier to locate the joint by the line of white fat that runs along it.  Slice through the joint, by using our 6” boning knife and separating the thigh from the drumstick. Repeat with the other leg.

Step 6: Separate wings from the breast

Take one breast skin and place side up on your cutting board.  Grip the wing and wiggle it to locate the shoulder joint.  Now cut through the joint to separate the wing from the breast. Repeat with the other breast.

Congratulations, you’ve successfully jointed your chicken into eight pieces.  Take a bow – you are culinary star!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *