Today I’m going to show you how to cut up a whole chicken into parts that you can use in many recipes.

I know buying a chicken in packaged, precut pieces is convenient and easy, but buying a whole chicken and then cutting it up yourself has a lot of advantages. First, it’s cheaper! Second, you get all the parts, especially the backbone, which has a lot of meat in it, and also usually the giblets. Third, you get the oysters, which are the best part of the chicken. You can eat them yourself or save them for a Very Important Person. : ) There are 2 oysters, so I recommend you eat one first and the other one can go to your loved one. : )

One rule when cutting up a whole chicken is that you don’t want to cut through any bones. Cut between the joints, through the muscles, and along the fat lines. It’ll be easier and less messy. My grandmother used to use a big knife to chop everything into pieces, even through bones, and blood and bones would fly everywhere!

It doesn’t take long to learn how to cut up a whole chicken, and you can improve your knife skills every time you do it!
Ready? Let’s start!

whole chicken

Prepare the chicken

  1. Wash the chicken thoroughly, until its skin isn’t slippery anymore.
  2. Put it on a solid cutting board with enough room to work. Get your chef’s knife and kitchen shears and a heavy cleaver (if you have one).

Drumsticks & thighs

  1. Find the hollow spot where the base of the leg meets the body. Cut in this spot until you see the joint.cut chicken thigh
  2. Pop the thigh bone out of the joint, and cut the rest of the meat until you can remove the whole leg.thigh joint
  3. Separate the thigh from the drumstick by cutting along the fat line that separates the two.leg and thigh line of fat
  4. Remove both legs this way.


  1. Find where the base of the wing meets the body. Cut off both wings there, on the joints.
  2. Cut each wing into pieces along the joints. You can throw away the wing tips.


  1. Cut off any flabby bits of flesh and fat from the rear area.
  2. Find the fat line where the breast meets the body. Cut along the line with some kitchen shears. Do the same for both sides. chicken breast fat line
  3. Break the joint that connects the backbone to the breasts. Then use scissors to fully detach the backbone.
  4. Flip the breasts over and cut through the middle of the V shape soft bone that connects them underneath.
  5. Flip them right side up and chop down the middle to separate them. If it’s tough you can use a heavy cleaver for this, or just pound your chef’s knife. Cut through until you have 2 pieces, the right and left breasts.chicken breast split
  6. Trim any fat from the breasts.


  1. On the backbone, near where the thighs were are the 2 most flavorful and tender pieces of meat, called oysters. Cut these out and fry them up with sesame oil, a pinch of salt and ground black pepper. chicken oysterchicken oysters
  2. I like to serve them in a dipping sauce of vinegar mixed with a drop f soy sauce and some sesame oil drizzled over top.oysters


  1. You can use the backbone to make chicken stock, but personally I like to cut it up and eat it. There’s a lot of good meat in the backbone that is delicious when fried. I cut the backbone into chunks with a heavy knife, but if you want to use for stock just leave it whole.
  2. To make stock, boil the backbone with lots of garlic and water until the stock turns tasty.


  1. Separate the pieces to freeze them.

How to Cut Up a Chicken (닭 자른는 법)

That’s it! Now you can use all the different pieces for all kinds of chicken recipes! There are many delicious ones, but for the thighs, backbone, and wings I suggest spicy braised chicken (dak-bokkeumtang 닭볶음탕). If you’ve never had it, you have to try it! Also, don’t forget to try my crispy and crunchy Korean fried chicken (dakgangjeong 닭강정) recipe, it’s really popular!


  1. vortexae Boulder, Colorado, USA joined 6/10 & has 4 comments

    Thank you so much! I’ve been enjoying chickens from a local CSA farm this year, but every time I cut one up I’ve felt like an ignorant barbarian. This video helped me SO MUCH. (Plus sharpening my knife before I got started. That helped too. :D )

    I was already committed to making chicken fricassee last night, but now I’m looking forward to your crispy sweet spicy fried chicken recipe next time!

  2. carrayville Placerville, CA joined 12/18 & has 5 comments

    Very informative article, thanks, this information now saves me a lot of time.

  3. JustinRunyon Louisburg joined 5/18 & has 3 comments

    I am agree good knife! I want it too!

  4. ddnorman Southern NH, USA joined 9/13 & has 75 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    Lol I never knew those pieces were called the “oyster”! Since I usually carved the chicken or turkey I always got em! Besides most everyone else in my family likes the breast meat so they nevermissed them! :-O *** Plus I like the “Pope’s Nose” too! :-D

    Thank you for showing us how to carve a chicken!


  5. JorginaD Colombo joined 10/16 & has 1 comment

    Annyonghaseyo maangchi. could you please teach us how to make yakgwa in another video?!! Gamsahamnida!!! :)

  6. sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 299 comments

    If the chicken is really fresh, the skin shouldn’t be slippery at all.

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