Test Kitchen video tips: How to cut up a chicken

Cutting up a whole chicken.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Whenever I buy chicken to cook or grill, I always go for the whole bird and cut it up myself. Whole birds can be much cheaper than pre-cut pieces -- often a fraction of the price -- and they’re so easy to break down when you know what you’re doing.

If you’re intimidated by the thought of cutting up a chicken, don’t be. It will probably feel a little foreign at first, but once you start practicing, you’ll soon get the hang of it. Follow this simple step-by-step guide.

A couple of quick tips: Make sure you have a sturdy, sharp chef’s knife and scissors, and give yourself plenty of clean space and time (relax, speed will build the more you do it). Don’t hesitate to move the pieces around so you can learn to “sense” where the bones begin and end at the joints, learning where the soft cartilage is to make your cuts when separating pieces.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you’d like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at



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