Carving a Rotisserie Chicken

I have to be honest. You’re going to have to work a a bit and pay attention to my instructions to learn how to carve a chicken.. The good news is that once you learn how to carve a cooked chicken, you’re ready to butcher a fresh one. Notice I’m using two different verbs — I’m using carve when the chicken is cooked, and butcher when it’s raw.

When carving or butchering a chicken, you want:

  • 2 wings
  • 2 drumsticks
  • 2 thighs
  • 2 chicken breast halves
  • 1 backbone (that will have the neck, 2 yummy “tenderloins”, and a little residual meat — perfect snacking!)

1. Put the chicken on a cutting board with the wings on top and the legs on bottom

2. Gently pull the leg out to the side and it will probably crack — take your knife and slice up from the cavity, and around where you see the joint that attaches the drumstick to the thigh. Follow your knife around the contours and the entire leg will detach in one piece, leaving just the breast on that side.

3. Do the same on the other side of the chicken. To separate the drumstick from the thigh, try to feel with you finger where the joint is, and then insert the knife. If it meets no resistance, you’ve got it! Just follow your knife.

4. Now tackle the wings. Wiggle the wing a bit to see if you can detect where the joint is that separates it from the breast. Then use your finger to feel where the joint is, and insert your knife. If it meets no resistance, slice through. Repeat with the other wing.

5. Now you’re left with the breast. Turn the chicken over so it’s facing breast-side down. Using your knife (or some people prefer poultry shears), cut through each side of the backbone — use the tailbone as your guide, releasing each chicken breast half.

6. You’re finished! You should have 8 pieces of chicken with a backbone.