How to Carve a Chicken

carved chicken on a platter

The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  • 01 of 05

    Carving Your Bird

    Whole roasted chicken on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

    Whether it's a store-bought rotisserie chicken or a home cooked lemon roasted chicken, you can easily carve it with these simple steps! 

    Carving a chicken is almost identical to carving a turkey. All you need is a carving knife and a set of tongs or carving fork. If you are using a store-bought chicken, make sure to carve and eat it as soon as possible after you bring it home. If you aren't going to eat it right away, place it in the refrigerator. 

    Get a platter and some aluminum foil ready to cover the carved pieces to keep them warm while you are carving the rest of the bird. 

    You will also need a sharp chef's knife. You can use a carving knife, but since a chicken is smaller than a turkey, a chef's knife should work fine.  

    It works best to carve the chicken in the following order:

    1. thigh
    2. leg
    3. breast
    4. wing

    This order will help you to get the most meat possible off of the carcass and will help you to carve the bird successfully without any slip-ups! 

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Carve the Thigh

    whole roasted chicken being carved on cutting board, knife cutting into separate leg from breast

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

    Start by carving the thigh and leg off of the body. If the legs were attached with string, make sure to cut the strings before you begin carving. 

    Place the chicken on a cutting board or a sturdy, hard surface area for carving. Make sure the breast is facing up and the small or large cavity is facing towards your body - either cavity can be facing towards you, it doesn't matter. 

    Gently pull the leg and thigh away from the body. Then hold the turkey with your carving forks or tongs. Cut through the skin and down through the joint at the base of the thigh. It should cut easily.

    Set the thigh aside and carve the other thigh off the body. 

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Carve the Leg

    roasted chicken on cutting board being carved, breast and wings separated from legs and thighs, knife cutting to separate one leg from the thigh

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

    Take the chicken thigh and place it skin side up on the cutting board. Cut the leg off of the thigh at the joint. If you need to, use your hands to tug the leg slightly towards yourself to find the joint. It should cut easily if you cut it through the joint.

    Set the legs and thighs aside on a platter and repeat with other thigh and leg. Make sure to cover with the aluminum foil while you finish carving. 

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Carve the Breast

    whole roast chicken breast and wings on cutting board, knife cutting down backbone to cut breast meat into two pieces

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

    Start carving the breast by finding the breastbone in the center of the breast. The breast is where you will get most of the meat.

    Cut straight down, in small slicing motions, at an angle along the breast bone to remove an entire half of the breast. Set it aside and then repeat with the other side of the breast. 

    After removing both breasts, you can slice them so that each slice has a piece of skin, or leave them whole, depending on how you are serving them. 

    If you are looking to use the meat for making shredded chicken, shred the rest of the breast meat off of the carcass. It's hard to get every last bit of meat off when you are carving the breast with just a knife.  

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Carve the Wing and Serve

    roast chicken being carved on cutting board, wing being separated from breast bone with knife

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

    Carve the wing off of the bird where the joint meets the base of the breast. Set aside and place it on a platter. Carve the other wing and place with the rest of the carved bird. 

    Once you are done with the carving, you can decide how to cut, dice, or shred the meat. Serve with your favorite sides and dig in! 

    Use every bit of this chicken and save the carcass and use it to make chicken stock. It's a great way to make a healthy and rich stock, that you can freeze and use later!