At Knives Academy, we always strive to provide the best possible resources for quality blades and how to use them efficiently. We recently posted a video on how to cut up a whole chicken but wanted to be sure to include the steps in written format as well for those preparing a delicious family meal.

Tools to Get Started

  • Serbian and Santoku Knives
  • Cutting board appropriate for fresh poultry meat
  • Serving platter for pieces of chicken
  • Gloves for sanitary cooking (optional)
  • Honing steel to ensure quality cuts (optional)

Steps to Cut a Whole Chicken

Step 1:

Place your whole chicken on the cutting board “breasts up” and grip a drumstick. Your first cut will be between the leg and body at the joint, but you do not need to cut through the bone. The goal is to create space.

Step 2:

Repeat the same process on the other leg so that you can bend back the spine if needed. This should open space between the upper “breast” portion of the whole chicken and the lower hips/legs portion.

Step 3:

 Cleanly chop through the two portions using a Serbian blade or something with similar capabilities. You can now evenly divide the lower half by slicing through the backbone, so you have two full legs and drumsticks. Set those aside.

Step 4: 

Move to the upper half of the whole chicken. Grasp one wing at a time and carefully cut through the bone that attaches the wing to the main breast body. Repeat on the other wing and set those aside.

Step 5:

 With the breasts facing down, grasp the back area of the whole chicken and pull, using your Santoku blade to separate it from the breasts. Set that aside.

Step 6: 

Carefully remove the skin from the breasts, and then use your Santoku blade to slide between the two hemispheres of the breasts. Be sure to slice along the breastbone, so it is separated cleanly. Set the breasts aside.

Step 7: 

Use your Serbian blade to chop through the breastbone horizontally for use in soup, broth, or other dishes.

Cut Up a Whole Chicken on a yellow cutting board

Why Serbian and Santoku Knives for a Whole Chicken?

The ultimate choice of what type of blade to use when cutting a whole chicken will be up to whatever you are most comfortable with around your home or professional kitchen. We use the Serbian knife because it has the weight and sharpness to chop through chicken bones without requiring a lot of force. You can view some of our favorite Serbian blades from our best Serbian knives list.

As for the Santoku, you want an incredibly sharp blade that offers the maneuverability to work around bones. Cutting out the breast from the breastbone is an excellent example because it requires multiple angles without losing that edge quality. You also want a bit of length and a sharp tip for the wings and legs. You can view our favorite Santoku blades from this best Santoku knives list.

Other Ways to Cut a Whole Chicken

Another popular method for preparing a whole chicken is to perform what is known as a spatchcock. In this case, you are separating the backbone vertically so you can lay the whole chicken flat on a grill or roasting pan. This helps bring out extra juiciness in the chicken and allows for crisper skin, but it still requires cutting when it is finally cooked.

Be sure to take your time if you are trying to cut a whole chicken and have never done it before. You’ll be using sharp knives, and we want you to have a rewarding experience. Again, if you would like to see the details of how we cut a whole chicken, check out our YouTube instructional video that includes our use of Serbian and Santoku knives.

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