8-Cut Chicken: The Classic Fried-Chicken Cut

Fried chicken should be eaten off the bone.  Following is the classic way to break down a whole chicken into boney pieces that can be dredged and deep-fried.  Traditionally there is a lot of cutting through the bones, which is fun but can leave little shards in the meat.  I’ve cleaned up the method somewhat by separating at the joints where possible.  Even so, I wouldn’t cut this way if I were feeding small children.

We start by removing the legs at the hip.  Bend the leg backwards to expose the joint, then cut with a knife.

Removing the leg

The leg, removed

To separate the thigh and drumstick, bend the knee against it’s will until it snaps, then cut through the joint.  These are the first two pieces of our final eight.

The drumstick and thigh, separated

The same process is repeated on the other side of the bird so that we have two drumsticks and two thighs.

Now the interesting part.  We’re going to cut out the spine of this bird, which is way easier than it sounds.  A heavy knife will easily break through the several adjoining ribs.  Flip the chicken over so that you are looking at its back.

The back of the bird

Make a cut down one side of the spine, all the way down the chicken, from the shoulder to the tail.

Cutting along one side of the spine

Repeat the cut on the other side of the backbone and remove the spine.

Removing the spine

Next is another through-the-bone cut.  Looking into the bird, at the very centre we can see the keel bone, or sternum.  We’re going to bust through that to divide the chicken in two.

The keel bone, or sternumWith the keel bone split, we have two quarter chickens

Finally we cut through the breasts, dividing each into two, roughly equal pieces.  You need to chop through the rib and shoulder bones beneath the flesh.

White quarter chickens

Dividing the breasts


Our 8-cut chicken: eight pieces with lots of bones, all of roughly equivalent size.

8-cut chicken!