How To Carve a Roast Chicken: The Video

updated May 2, 2019
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This was one of the most requested how tos this month: How to carve a roast chicken! This is also our first attempt at a slightly longer video; it goes quite in-depth on how to cut up a chicken.

Major disclaimer: Our technical video skills are still improving! This one is getting better, but we promise future videos will be even sharper! But if you are new to carving chickens, this should give you quite a good primer on the basics (even if things do slip in and out of focus here and there).

A word to the squeamish: There is much popping of joints, and cracking of cartilage here. Carving a chicken definitely requires some boldness with the knife!

What You Need


One roast chicken (See How To Roast a Chicken here.)


Large cutting board
Chef’s knife – should be very sharp
Bowl or platter for roast chicken pieces
Paper towels or rag


1. Start by letting your roast chicken rest, well-covered, for about 10 minutes to let the juices recirculate. Then place it on a large cutting board. Make sure you are standing in a place where you have full range of movement for you and your knife. Have paper towels or a rag on hand to wipe your hands as you go.

2. Place the chicken breast-side-down on the cutting board. Use the tip of your knife to slit the skin where the leg is joined to the body. Cut a small slit in the meat as well, exposing the joint.

3. After the joint has been exposed, rotate and bend the leg away from the body so the joint pops out. Use the knife to cut down hard through the remaining skin and cartilage. You will need to use a bit of force with this, and if you enounter a complete block, you probably hit bone. If this happens, move a quarter inch closer to the joint and try again. Completely separate the leg from the body.

4. Repeat on the other side of the chicken with the other leg, separating it from the body.

5. If desired, you can also separate the thigh from the drumstick. This is a similar process to separating the leg from the body: Start by cutting through the skin and making a shallow slit in the meat. Rotate the joint so that it pops out, and then cut the thigh away from the drumstick by cutting straight down through the remaining cartilage and skin. If you hit a complete block, then you’ve hit the bone. Try to identify where the joint has popped away from the bone, and cut there.

6. Now move on to the wings. You are probably sensing the pattern here: Cut away a little of the skin and meat, and rotate the joint until it pops out. You can also do the same to the lower joint of the wings (the tips) and cut them away. These have very little meat on them anyway, and unless you really like them, they are best put in the stockpot.

7. To remove the breasts, cut a slit down the middle, between the breasts, to expose the breast bone, and then keep cutting down on one side until you hit the ribs. Once there, just run the knife along the ribs (almost parallel to the ribs) to cut off the breasts. Repeat on the other side.

8. Now you are left with just a chicken carcass. Pick off any remaining meat and refrigerate or freeze it for soups, sandwiches, or tossing with pasta.

9. The remaining chicken carcass can be used to make stock or soup! Here’s our post on making stock from a chicken carcass: How To Make Homemade Chicken Stock

(Images: Faith Durand)