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How to Carve a Chicken


The chicken should be left to rest for 15 – 20 minutes before any carving is attempted; this allows it to firm up so it is easier to cut, and also lets the juices flow again through the meat, adding moisture and flavor. Knife selection is very important; make sure that it is very sharp. This will assist you in getting through the tough joint bits, and will also allow you to cut neat slices, allowing for better presentation. Also, try to use a carving knife that is long enough to cut the entire breast. Here are the steps to carving an entire chicken:

Let the chicken rest for about 15 – 20 minutes. During this time, the chicken will reabsorb its own juice and become more tender and moist. While resting, cover with aluminum foil so that the chicken does not get cold and dry.

Put the chicken on the cutting surface, breast up, and make the initial incision through the skin and meat, between the thigh and breast.

Pull the whole thigh away from the body, and look for the joint connecting it. Once located, severe it from the body, pulling away the entire thigh and separating it from the whole chicken.


If the bird is small, the thigh and leg can be served as one serving; if it is too big, you can separate them by cutting at the connecting joint.

Next, the wing should be removed; find the joint that connects it to the whole chicken and cut this with your knife. Keep the cut as close to the body as you can, so as not to leave excess bone and bits. If you wish, you can also cut off the tip of the wing before presenting.

To carve out the breast meat, run the knife under the breast in a horizontal manner, going all the way down the whole length of the chicken. Be sure to cut all the way into the bone.
Using a vertical motion, start at the top and cut along the breast bone. Keep going until you reach the bottom, where you made the horizontal cut.

You are now able to remove the whole breast meat; take it out and put it aside to cut accordingly. Using a fork to hold the meat steady, use your knife and cut against the grain of the meat. The slices can be cut to a thickness of your preference. Remember to cut against the grain; this will give you more tender pieces.

The same process is used on the other side of the chicken.

Put all of the pieces on the dish of your choice and serve while still warm. Enjoy your well-earned chicken!

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.