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How to Debone a Chicken

If you're one of those do-it-yourself cooks who loathes all things shrink-wrapped, pre- packaged, and over-handled, this is the task for you.


  • Step 1: Place chicken Place the chicken squarely on its back on the cutting board with its legs spread outward.
  • Step 2: Grasp knife Grasp the knife in your dominant hand, holding the handle close to the blade with three fingers: your middle, ring, and pinkie. Curl your forefinger around one side of the blade while holding your thumb on the opposite side.
  • Step 3: Cut joints Pull the wings out on both sides of the bird, and cut the tips off at the joint.
  • Step 4: Make first cut Grab the end of the drumstick and cut between the top of the leg and the breast.
  • Step 5: Expose joint Applying downward pressure, continue to score along the skin and meat of the leg—which contains the thigh and drumstick—until the joint is exposed.
  • TIP: When trimming a chicken, do not attempt to finish the job in one slice—using a series of shallow cuts will maximize your control.
  • Step 6: Pop joint loose With your free hand, twist the thigh back until the joint pops loose.
  • Step 7: Free leg Free the leg by following with your knife the line of the breast from the tail to beneath the wingtip.
  • Step 8: Cut length of leg Cut down the length of leg from the top of the thighbone down.
  • Step 9: Cut meat away Stand the leg on end and begin cutting the meat away from the bone. Make a small series of cuts, turning the bone often and pulling the flesh as you go.
  • Step 10: Continue cutting Trim around the knee joint and continue cutting along the bone to loosen and free the meat all the way to the end of the drumstick. Set the bone to one side and the meat to another.
  • Step 11: Turn bird Turn the bird on its side so the wing is nearest to you.
  • Step 12: Separate wing Insert your knife behind the wing joint and cut forward, separating the wing from the body.
  • Step 13: Free breast Continue to score forward on a diagonal, freeing the breast from the bone underneath until the entire portion is released.
  • Step 14: Separate wing Following the edge of the wing joint, slice through the meat and tendons attaching the wing to the breast and separate the two pieces. Set the wing to one side, with the leg bones, and set the breast meat to the other.
  • TIP: Use the chicken carcass to make chicken soup stock.
  • Step 15: Cut as desired The boneless thighs and breasts are now ready to be sliced, diced, chopped, or stuffed—because this goose is cooked.
  • FACT: The small bundle of meat between the upper thighs and back is nicknamed the 'oyster'—some chefs consider it the tastiest part of the chicken.

You Will Need

  • A whole chicken
  • A cutting board
  • And a very sharp boning or paring knife

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