How to joint a chicken

It's often more expensive to buy two ready-prepared chicken breasts than a whole chicken. From a whole chicken you'll get two breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks, plus a carcass and wings for making simple stock.

-If the chicken is trussed (tied), remove the string.

-Pull the legs slightly away from the body. Cut through the skin and twist the leg slightly to remove the leg bone from the socket joint.

-Cut the legs away from the body at the underside of the chicken using a large, sharp knife.

-Separate the thighs from the drumsticks: run your finger along the thigh bone until you can feel the joint between the thigh and the drumstick. Cut through the leg joint.

-Smooth the skin over the breast. Feel for the V-shaped wishbone at the neck opening of the bird. Use a small sharp knife to scrape away the meat covering the wishbone, then pull out both parts of the bone.

-With your large knife flush to the breast bone of the bird, start to cut the breasts away from the carcass, stopping when the knife meets the resistance of the carcass.

-Feel for the joint between the wing and the breast and cut through the tendons to release, then continue to cut the breasts from the carcass.

-Separate the wing from the breast: for a suprême, run the knife around the joint that unites them until you see the bone, then pull the bone from its socket joint; for a boneless breast, cut the breast meat away from the socket joint.

-Trim the fat from the breasts.

-Trim the wing tip from the wing at the joint.

See recipe in full

How to cook chicken in tarragon sauce How to cook chicken in tarragon sauce

By Paul Merrett

Recipes using this technique

Main course

Light meals & snacks

Skill level


Equipment you will need for this technique

  • Large, sharp knife
  • Small, sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Plate for jointed pieces of chicken