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Simple Tips for Dividing A Whole Chicken For The Freezer

Want the easy know-how for dividing a whole chicken?

Maybe you don’t want to spend a lot of time thawing chicken when your family wants a recipe with chicken breasts.

It sure would be easier to just throw the whole chicken in a freezer bag and go, right? You’re in the right place, my friend. I’m going to tell you just how to cut a whole chicken into pieces instead of having to deal with thawing chicken that is whole.

Surprisingly, it is actually very easy to divide a whole chicken at the end of the harvesting process. And so much easier later when you only want certain parts of the chicken as the main dish to any great chicken recipe.

My family and I raise and harvest our own chickens each year. Every year but sometimes twice a year, we purchase a cluster of small day-old chicks to feed out. They are ready in about 8 weeks. 

Then, we harvest our own birds on our property. I have other posts about raising and butchering chicken. I’ll post them down below. 

This particular post is all about dividing a whole chicken (whether you’re buying or dividing your own) in order to have all the parts for different recipes later. It’s about convenience and saving time for you in the future. 

So, How Do You Cut This Whole Chicken Up?

Cutting up a whole chicken is all about finding the natural break joints.

  1. For the wings, cut at the shoulders. Find the natural line where the wing meets the breast plate.
  2. For the legs, cut straight along the side of the upper thigh.
  3. To split the drumstick and the thigh, find the breakdown about in the middle of the piece. It should be an easy cut.
  4. Lastly is the breast. For a healthier option, I took the skin off and shaved the breast off the bone like this:
Dividing A Whole Chicken

Finally, I washed all the pieces one last time and bagged them in Ziplock freezer bags. You can use other freezer type bags, freezer paper or something else to prevent freezer burn.

How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

Here you'll find simple steps of dividing a whole chicken in order to save time later

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1. Wings: Cut at the shoulders. Find the natural line where the wing meets the breast plate.

2. Legs: Cut straight along the side of the upper thigh.

3. Split Drumstick and Thigh: Find the breakdown about in the middle of the piece. It should be an easy cut.

4. Breast: For a healthier option, I took the skin off and shaved the breast off the bone.

How many chicken pieces do you put into each bag?

Here’s a question we had when we first started. How full do we fill the freezer bags? It really was trial and error but really, our decision was based upon convenience. For you, determine how much chicken your family would eat for one meal. This also depends on how much the freezer bag will hold.

Here’s how I figure each gallon-sized bag for my family of four. Here’s how to portion a chicken now to freeze for convenience later:

  • Each bag of chicken breasts contains four large breasts. This often lasts us two meals because the breasts on the Cornish Crosses are huge.
  • Drumsticks have six.
  • Wings have 12.
  • Thighs have eight.

When the bags are full, you can go ahead and organize them into the freezer. Make sure your freezer bags are sealed tightly to prevent freezer burn that can occur. 

More about Freezing Chicken

There’s a lot of questions generally asked about freezing chickens. Here are a few of them:

  • What about cooking chicken in bulk to freeze?
  • Can you freeze chicken that was frozen before?
  • Can you freeze cooked chicken and reheat?

To all of these questions, the general answer is yes.

  • Definitely cook chicken in bulk to freeze! This is called batching. Roast it, grill it, bake or fry it and then stick it in freezer bags to enjoy later. You can also do this with leftovers.
  • Freezing chicken that was frozen before? Yes – if it’s raw. You need to cook the raw chicken first and then you can definitely freeze it again as cooked chicken. BUT, if it’s been cooked and thawed, it’s not a good idea to refreeze it.
  • Can you freeze cooked chicken and reheat? Absolutely! It’s very safe to do this. I do it all the time when I plan out meals. Convenience is everything to me and my busy family as I know it is for you and yours.

More About Thawing Chicken

What is thawing process for thawing chicken that has been frozen? It’s really pretty easy. But safety is very important, of course. It’s super important to know how to defrost meat safely. 

The safest process for thawing chicken is to place it onto a plate and stick it in the fridge. Depending on size, the thawing process can last from a couple of hours to a whole entire day. I like to pull frozen meat overnight so that it’s thawed the next day. 

A whole chicken will definitely take longer to thaw than smaller bags of pieces of chicken! It’s all about time management and convenience!

Why I Divide the Whole Chicken

For convenience purposes, I prefer to divide the whole chicken into breasts, thighs, wings, and drumsticks.

The middle breastbone is graciously donated to a family member to make chicken stock. Someday, I will make the time to prepare my own. I just haven’t taken that step yet.

You can also consume the chicken feet. We have not tried it yet, but I know there’s recipes and ways to use chicken feet so nothing is wasted.

Bottom line: I don’t have time to thaw and cook an entire whole chicken every time my family wants chicken breast. Therefore, all I have to do is grab a little bag of thighs for chicken & rice and WAH-LA: The rest of the chicken stays in the freezer. Easy Peasy.

How Would You Divide a Whole Chicken? 

Although I just shared the way I cut my chickens up, there are numerous ways to do it. I hope you learned a lot about how to carve a chicken to help with convenience and space in your freezer!

Please share yours below in the comments!