How to Truss a Chicken

  • 01 of 09

    Trussing Helps a Chicken Cook Evenly

    How to truss a chicken for roasting
    Michael Marquand / Getty Images

    Trussing a chicken is an important step in preparing a roasted chicken. Trussing involves tying the chicken snugly with kitchen twine so that the wings and legs stay close to the body. This makes the chicken more compact which helps it cook evenly. Trussing a chicken also helps prevent the tips of the wings and drumsticks from burning, and makes the cooked chicken look more attractive when you serve it. 

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  • 02 of 09

    Start with Three Feet of Cooking Twine

    Start with three feet of cooking twine
    Start with three feet of cooking twine. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    By the way, kitchen twine is plain, unbleached cotton twine that's strong enough to hold a chicken together but won't burn, melt or otherwise ruin your roast. For an average chicken, cut yourself about three feet of twine. You might not need that much, but it's better to start off with a little too much (you can trim the excess when you're done) than not enough.

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  • 03 of 09

    Position the Chicken

    How to Truss a Chicken - Tutorial with Photos- Step 2: Position the Chicken
    Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    To begin with, position the chicken breast-side-up with the legs facing you. Place the center of the twine directly beneath the tailbone of the chicken with the ends extending left and right.

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  • 04 of 09

    Criss-Cross the Twine Around the Legs

    How to Truss a Chicken - Tutorial with Photos- Step 3: Criss-Cross the Twine Around the Legs
    Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    Lift the twine, loop each end around the legs as shown and then reverse the twine to make a cross. 

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  • 05 of 09

    Pull the Twine Tight

    How to Truss a Chicken - Tutorial with Photos- Step 4: Pull the Twine Tight
    Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    Pull tightly on both ends of the twine so that the legs come together. Note that the photo here is for demonstration purposes, but in real life you'd want to stuff the body cavity of the chicken with some aromatics, like a halved onion; some citrus, like a halved lemon or orange; and some fresh herbs. And of course you will want to do this before you start to truss the chicken, because you won't be able to get anything in after the legs are tied back.

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  • 06 of 09

    Flip the Chicken Over

    How to Truss a Chicken - Tutorial with Photos- Step 5: Flip the Chicken Over
    Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    This is the only really tricky bit. Pull the ends of the twine forward (away from you), loop it around the front of the chicken and over the wings. Then, flip the chicken upside down so that the neck is now facing you, keeping the twine pulled tight.

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  • 07 of 09

    Secure the Twine and Tie a Knot

    How to Truss a Chicken - Step 6: Secure the Twine and Tie a Knot
    Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    Now you can just tie a knot so that the twine stays secured underneath the neckbone.

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  • 08 of 09

    The Final Trussed Chicken

    How to Truss a Chicken - Tutorial with Photos- Step 7: The Final Trussed Chicken
    Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    Trim any excess twine and flip the chicken onto its back again. Here you see what the chicken looks like when it's been properly trussed.

    The compact shape you've created is perfect for roasting a chicken, because chicken roasts at a high temperature and it's relatively quick. Turkey, on the other hand, is cooked more slowly, at a lower temperature, which is appropriate since a turkey is more massive than a chicken. But trussing a turkey will make it more difficult for the heat of the oven to penetrate the dark meat of the thighs, extending cooking time and causing the breasts to overcook. Long story short, don't bother trussing a turkey.

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  • 09 of 09

    Ready to Roast

    How to Truss a Chicken - Tutorial with Photos- Step 8: Ready to Roast
    Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    Here you see a trussed chicken ready to roast. You can see the back of a halved orange peeking out.

    You can also see a few slices of bread at the bottom of the roasting pan, which will soak up the drippings as the chicken roasts while also turning nice and brown and toasty—delicious!