Two of Our Favorite Ways to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

For those of you intimidated by a whole chicken, don’t be! It’s all just a little bit of a learning process. If you want super easy (which I do most of the time), you can literally stick the whole bird on a roasting pan in the oven to cook for roughly 15 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 160-165 degrees.

BUT sometimes, you just want to do something different and I’d love to show you a couple ways you can cut a whole bird depending on how you’d like to cook it. PLUS, buying whole birds is the best value AND you get to use all the leftover bones for bone broth, woohoo!



If you’d like to simply roast in quicker time or throw on the grill for even cooking, a spatchcocked chicken is the way to go! It also exposes more skin, so you get that super nice crisp all over. Here’s how ya do it:

  1. Start with a thawed whole chicken. Remove from packaging, rinse and pat dry.

  2. Place breast side down on cutting board with the neck end facing away from you. Starting at the thigh, use kitchen shears to cut along the backbone on one side. Then turn chicken around and cut along other side of backbone.

  3. Make sure to save the backbone for stock or bone broth (Sign up for our email list at the bottom of this page for your free bone broth guide!)

  4. Flip chicken over and open up. Press down on the breastbone to flatten the chicken.

You can also check out this short instructional video we put together that will show you step by step:

Here’s some wonderful spatchcock chicken recipes, bearing in mind pasture raised birds are leaner and tend to cook faster, so make sure you keep an eye on the temperature. We love using a digital meat thermometer and just set the alarm to go off when it’s up to temperature. We usually remove from heat at around160 degrees as it continues cooking up to the recommended temperature of 165 degrees as the meat rests.

Roast Spatchcock Chicken from Southern Living

Grilled Spatchcocked Greek Chicken from Food Network

8 Piece Split


One of the major benefits of cutting up a bird into 8 pieces before cooking is that it’s much easier to serve a crowd. If we are just doing a family dinner, a whole roast bird is perfect. But when it comes to serving lots of people, it’s nice to have individual pieces for easy and quick serving. It also cooks faster as well!

Make sure you have a very sharp knife, as it will make this process much quicker and safer. I always sharpen my knife right before I cut up a whole chicken. Just follow these simple steps to cut your chicken into 8 pieces:

  1. Start with a thawed whole chicken. Remove from packaging, rinse and pat dry.

  2. With the breast side up, pull each leg away from body. Then cut through the skin between the breast and the leg.

  3. Turn chicken on its side and bend each leg back until thighbone pops out. Cut through joint and skin to cut each leg off completely. Repeat with the other leg.

  4. To divide the drumstick and thigh, turn each skin side down and cut through joints, along white fat line, to separate.

  5. For the wings, turn the chicken on its side and grab a wing. Cut in a circle around the wing. Then, holding the chicken up and using the weight of the chicken, cut through joint and remove the wing. Repeat on the other side.

  6. Lift up chicken and cut downward through rib cage, following the fat line. Then cut thru the shoulder joints to separate the breast from the back, make sure to save the back for stock or bone broth! (Sign up for our email list below for your free bone broth guide!)

  7. Place breast skin side down. Cut down along the center bone, then flip breast skin side up and bear down with your hands to break bone. Then slice through meat and skin to separate into 2 pieces.

  8. To cut breast halves into quarters, turn each skin side up and cut in half diagonally through bone. (I usually wait till after cooking to do this so breast doesn’t dry out as much during cooking)

You can also check out this short instructional video we put together that will show you step by step:

The first chicken I cut up literally took me about 15-20 minutes as I pressed play/pause/rewind several times on YouTube. I couldn’t figure out where these magical joints were and was basically cutting through bones at several different points. BUT after doing it a couple times, it got easier and I got a lot faster. Now I can do it in under 2 minutes!

I’ve still got room for improvement though…apparently some people can do it in under 20 seconds, WHAT?!

Here’s one of our favorite simple ways to cook a chicken cut up into 8 pieces:

Classic Baked Chicken from Simply Recipes

We hope this was helpful and enjoyable for you. Let us know in the comments below if you try cutting up a whole chicken for the first time or if you make one of these delicious recipes!