Home Butcher Guide

Cutting and Preserving Chickens

Best Ways To Cut Chicken For Preserving

Cutting up a chicken means dividing it into the preferred parts for consuming later. Majority of home butchers will leave the chicken whole after butchering. Freezing a whole chickens assures less freeezer burn. We have found that when smaller part are packaged with larger parts in the freezer, the smaller parts tend to get freezer burn much faster. When the chicken is kept whole, you are able to cut it as you wish when you decide to eat it. If you decide to cut it and freeze it there are a few different ways to do it. 

Best Ways to Cut a Butchered Chicken

After you plucked, removed pin feathers, and guts, you are ready to break down the whole chicken into individual cuts for easy preservation.


There are five ways to preserve your chicken. whole, half, eight-piece, ten piece, or twelve-piece. Just like KFC, choose your preference. 

Preserving a Whole Chicken

Leaving the chicken whole is the most efficient way to preserve your chickens on butcher day. This makes the preservation process quick and easy and is also the best way to freeze your birds because they will not get freezer burnt.  


Preserve a whole chicken

Freezing chickens whole keep longest when they are vacuum sealed. If you do not own a vacuum sealer, packaging them into large plastic bags or large zip lock freezer bags is sufficient and typical of most people.


Chicken will keep nicely in bags for up to a year, and even longer with a vacuum sealer. We have kept chickens up to three years in a vacuum sealed bag and were still able to use most of the meat. 

Cutting A Chicken in Half

Once you have patted the chicken dry you are ready to begin cutting. With the chicken on its back (the boney side) and the breast facing up, using a very sharp kitchen shears and start cutting at wish bone and continue on down the center of the breastbone to the bottom.


Split the bird open on your table and cut out the backbone. Cut it out by cutting on both sides of it, separating it from the chicken. Be sure to keep the backbone, neck and other bones and skin for soup stock. 

Cutting a Chicken into an Eight-Piece

An eight piece includes two drumsticks, two thighs, two wings, and two breast halves.


The eight piece is the classic traditional way to cut up a bird. Do not expect yourself to do this beautifully the first, second or even the third time. You may find yourself ‘butchering’ the bird. In the end, it all tastes great, even though it may not look great! 

1. Remove the Thigh and Leg

Removing the thigh and leg for an eight-piece: 


Pat the bird dry, and place on the cutting board breast side up. Insert your boning knife into the skin between the thigh and the body while hold the leg out with the other hand. Running your knife parallel with the breast along the leg until you find the hip socket. 


Push down on the leg until you hear it snap or pop. This is where you’ll want to cut. Right through that joint. Or pulling the leg and thigh away from the body will also pop the joint and you will be better able to see where to cut. 


Avoid cutting into the bone, it’s much too difficult. Finding the joint, breaking it and cutting through that cartilage is the best way to cut your chicken. 

Bend the leg and thigh to determine the leg joint. Begin cutting at a 45-degree angle to remove the leg or drumstick. 


Repeat on the other side. 

2. Remove the Wings

Take a look at the wing. The wing has three sections: the drumette is the part that is closest to the breast. The wingette is the middle section, and the last section is the tip.


Laying the bird on its side, stretch the wing out from the body of the bird, lift the wing and cut into the pit of the wing where it attaches to the body. The breast meat is nearby so take care not to cut too deeply. Cut the tendon and cut around the socket joint to remove the entire wing. 


At this point you can choose to cut the wing into portions or leave it whole. Repeat on the other side. 

3. Remove the Breast

 Place the bird on its back. Hold it by the bottom and cut through the ribs between the back and under the breast. Or cut on either side of the ribs up through to the neck.  


At this point you can decide if you want to remove the bones or leave the breast bone-in. 

chicken cut breast

Cutting a Chicken into a Ten-Piece

A ten-piece includes two drumsticks, two thighs, two wings, and four breast pieces. 


Follow the instructions for cutting your chicken into the traditional eight-piece. The only difference between the eight and ten piece is the breast.  Cut the breast pieces in half crosswise, not lengthwise, but across will give you a ten-piece chicken.

Cutting a Chicken into a Twelve-Piece

A twelve-piece includes two drumsticks, two thighs, two, winglets, two drumettes and four breast pieces. 


Follow the instructions for cutting your chicken into the traditional eight-piece. Cut the breast into four pieces.


For the twelve-piece the wing is cut into two pieces the winglet and the drumette. You can decide if you want to keep or remove the wing tip. The tip doesn’t have any meat in it but can be used for soup stock. 


Cut the wing pulling it away from the body of the bird as instructed above. It might help to lay the bird on its side.  You’ll see where it is attached. Insert the knife in the middle of the white portions of the joints between each section. 

Boning Out a Chicken

Often times beginners make enough mistakes and naturally end up boning out the bird. But there is a method in doing so if you want boneless meat. 


To bone out the thigh, make a cut on the inside of the thigh and cut out the bone with a boning knife. Boning knives are sharp and narrow and easy to slide into delicate small areas such as this. 


Boning out the breast is done by cutting down one side following the rib cage to cut away the ribs and be left with breast meat only.  

chicken cuts