A fresh chicken whole chicken.


1.    Wash hands.

2.    Pat down bird with paper towel.

3.    Remove bag of gizzards (gizzards can be used in gravy, stock, pâté, etc.)

4.    Cut through joint of chickens wing. In general, the joint is the best place to cut.

5.    Cut off tip of wing at joint. 

6.    Flip bird over.

7.    Cut the loose, flappy skin around the leg.

8.    Flip chicken on stomach and break legs, bending them all the way back until they touch each other.

9.    Cut the chicken at oyster (bump in back) and pull back meat, including the leg. The oyster is the most succulent part of the chicken.

10.    Separate leg at joint (yield a thigh and a drum).

11.    Using a meat cleaver, cut between ribcage and back at the joint all the way down to divide bird in half .

12.    Using a cleaver, divide the back of the chicken into small pieces to use for chicken stock. 

13.    At the tip of the heel bone, make a small incision at joint. Turn the chicken 180 degrees and make another incision.

14.    Pulling at each side, pop open sternum. Make sure to leave the heel bone intact.

15.    With the tip of a knife, run down the cartilage at the bottom of the sternum.

16.    Cut excess cartilage off the chicken

17.    Grab the heel bone and cartilage and pull it out of the chicken

18.    Cut off the ribs

19.    Follow wishbone to end and pull off the shoulder bones.

20.    Pull wishbone out of the center of the chicken.

21.    Peal the skin off the chicken breasts.

22.    Pull off tenderloins to make chicken fingers and use breasts to cook. Bones, cartilage and gizzards can be used to make chicken stock, and chicken wings and legs can be eaten individually when cooked.


Mary Poehnelt, the Butcher from Belchertown, was recently named the runner up on FOX’s hit reality show “Hell’s Kitchen.” After defeating stiff competition and creating remarkably innovative dishes, Mary shows us her unique way of butchering a whole chicken. Butchering a chicken, Mary says, is a highly effective way of maximizing product and minimizing cost. Instead of purchasing chicken breasts, stock and wings, butcher the chicken yourself to save money, waste less food and eat fresher. The butchering process is surprisingly fast and easy – it should not take you more than twenty minutes. All you need is a raw, whole chicken, a meat knife and cleaver, a cutting board, clean hands and a little bit of spunk, and you are ready to butcher like the master herself.

How to Butcher a Chicken
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