Never learned how to carve a chicken? We’ve got you covered with this easy step-by-step guide. Our Knife Skills series is sponsored by Cutco.
We at TheCookful love a good roast chicken. Slather on some oil, add a few shakes of salt and pepper, and pop it in the oven.. It’s one of the simplest meals and yet so comforting and delicious that it’s perfect for when friends come over too. But if you’ve never carved a chicken before, how do you get a beautiful presentation?
Scroll down to see the step-by-step photos or click here to jump straight down to the recipe.
- How To Roast A Whole Chicken
- What Do I Need To Carve A Chicken?
- Step #1 Get Set Up
- Step #2 Locate Thigh
- Step #3 Remove Thigh and Legs
- Step #4 Cut Legs
- Step #5 Locate Breast Bone
- Step #6 Remove Chicken Breasts
- Step #7 Slice Chicken Breast
- Step #8 Remove Chicken Wings
- Step #9 Serve!
- How to Carve a Chicken Instructions
How To Roast A Whole Chicken
If you aren’t starting with an already cooked chicken, you’ll need to learn how to roast chicken perfectly.
I like to let my chicken rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature before getting started. You’ll want to get your oven preheated to 300°F as well.
Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and any additional seasonings you’d like. Set it in a roasting pan along with enough unsalted chicken broth to cover the bottom of the pan with about 1/2 inch of liquid.
Roast the chicken uncovered until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. This takes between 25-30 minutes per pound. So, for a 4 pound chicken, it will take between 100 – 120 minutes. I like to start checking with an instant read thermometer after about 20 minutes per pound (so for 4 pounds, start checking at 80 minutes).
Transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes. Use the drippings to make gravy, if desired. After resting, you can put the chicken into a clean pan and back in the oven at 500°F for about 10 minutes to crisp up the skin. Then, it’s time to carve!
What Do I Need To Carve A Chicken?
You’ll only need two tools to do the carving. Today I chose to use a boning knife and a carving fork. I chose a boning knife instead of carving knife because I am deboning the chicken and then carving.
Step #1 Get Set Up
Place your roasted and rested chicken on a cutting board.
Step #2 Locate Thigh
Using your knife, cut in-between the thigh and breast. There is a little pocket of air you will feel and know where to cut between both.
Follow the cut along the thigh and breast.
Step #3 Remove Thigh and Legs
Using your hands pull the thigh and leg loose from the chicken body and repeat with the other side.
Step #4 Cut Legs
Use your knife and cut between the thigh and leg bone at the joint. To find the joint, move the leg and watch where it hinges.
The cut should look like this. Repeat with the other leg.
Step #5 Locate Breast Bone
Now it’s time to move on to the breast. Locate the breast bone in the middle of the breast and cut on both sides of the bone.
Step #6 Remove Chicken Breasts
Use your boning knife to slowly cut the breast from the ribs using short strokes from the tip of the blade.
Disconnect the breast from the chicken. Repeat with the other side.
The skin should still be intact with the breast.
Step #7 Slice Chicken Breast
Holding your carving fork and knife, slice the chicken breast.
Step #8 Remove Chicken Wings
Disconnect the wing from the chicken. Repeat on the opposite side.
Step #9 Serve!
Transfer the chicken slices and pieces to a large plate or platter to serve.
- Whole cooked chicken*
- Using your knife, cut in-between the thigh and breast and follow your cut.
- Using your hands pull the thigh and leg loose from the chicken body and repeat with the other side.
- Switch back to your knife and cut between the thigh and leg bone. It’s easy to find if you move the leg and watch where it hinges. Repeat.
- Locate the breast bone in the middle of the breast and cut on both sides of the bone.
- Use your boning knife to slowly cut the breast from the ribs using short strokes from the tip of the blade.
- Slice the breast. Repeat.
- Disconnect the wing from the chicken. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Transfer chicken pieces and slices to a large plate or platter to serve.
*Find a full recipe for roasting whole chicken here.
This post originally appeared in October 2016 and was revised and republished in August 2023.