Deboning Chicken

While skinless chicken pieces have become more popular, there is another kind of chicken that has eclipsed everything else when it comes to easy, fast, low-fat cooking: boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Here are some instructions on removing the bones from a skinless chicken breast and making it ready for a variety of cooking methods:

  1. Place the skinless whole chicken breast, meaty side down, on a cutting board. Cut a small slit through the membrane and cartilage at the V of the neck end.

    Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut through the cartilage.
    Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut through the cartilage.

  2. Grasp the breast with both hands and gently bend both sides backward to snap the breastbone.

    Place your thumbs on either side of the breastbone for leverage.
    Place your thumbs on either side of the breastbone for leverage.

  3. With fingers, work along both sides of the breastbone to loosen the triangular keel bone; pull out the bone.

    Be sure to remove all of the keel bone when cutting a chicken into a boneless, skinless breast.
    Be sure to remove all of the keel bone. Check for any splinters or shards that might have broken off.

  4. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut along both sides of the cartilage at the end of the breastbone; remove cartilage.

    Make short, light chops with the tip of the knife to separate the cartilage.
    Make short, light chops with the tip of the knife to separate the cartilage.

  5. Slip the point of the knife under the long rib bone on one side of the breast. Cut and scrape the meat from the rib bones, pulling the bones away from the meat.

    The rib bones are connected by a membrane.
    The rib bones are connected by a membrane.

  6. Cut the meat away from the collarbone; remove the bone. Repeat the procedure to debone the other side of the breast.

    Remove the collarbone from the breast.
    Remove the collarbone from the breast.

  7. Packaged whole, bone-in breasts already have the wishbone removed. If you cut up a whole chicken at home, you will need to remove the wishbone. Cut the meat away from the bone with the tip of the knife.

    Wishbones are already removed from packaged whole chicken breasts, but remove it if you cut up a whole chicken.
    Remove the wishbone if you cut up a whole chicken.

  8. Grasp the wishbone and pull it out of the breast.

  9. To remove the white tendon from each side of the breast, cut enough meat away from each tendon so you can grasp it. (Use a paper towel for a firmer grasp.) Pull out the tendon.

    Cut the white tendon off the boneless breast.
    Cut the white tendon off the boneless breast.

  10. Turn the breast meaty side up. If desired, remove the chicken tenders from the thickest edge of each breast half and reserve for another use, such as a fast sweet and sour chicken or stir-fried chicken and vegetables. Trim any loosened connective tissue that remains.

  11. Cut the whole chicken breast into halves lengthwise to make two, perfect, single-serving pieces.

    Cut in half to make two perfect servings.
    Cut in half to make two perfect servings.

Sometimes a recipe calls for sliced, diced, or shredded chicken. Learn tips on these techniques on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Chicken Recipes: Chicken is a very versatile food that can take on a variety of different flavors and be used in all kinds of dishes. Find some suggestions on our Chicken Recipes page. 
  • Chicken Safety: Since raw chicken can harbor harmful bacteria, it's important to know how to properly handle chicken in the kitchen. Learn chicken safety tips in this article. 
  • Preparing Chicken: Learn some basic chicken preparation techniques in this article, including how to stuff a chicken, how to marinate chicken, and more.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.