Raw chicken isn’t the easiest cut of meat to get right, particularly because there are so many different pieces that require different attention to how you cut them. Luckily, when it comes to what knife is best to use for cutting raw chicken, whether it’s breaking down a whole chicken, cutting chicken thighs, or slicing up the breast — it remains the same.
Using a high-quality, sharp boning knife to cut your raw chicken not only makes things quicker and easier but will also help you make more clean & precise cuts for a higher quality end result.
Here’s what knives you can use for cutting raw chicken, how to do it effectively, and which boning knife is your best bet in the current market.
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What Knife To Use For Cutting Raw Chicken?
When it comes to cutting raw chicken, there are different types of knives you could use to get the job done. But, using the right knife will drastically reduce the effort needed and increase comfort, efficiency, and safety.
Overall, it’s a much nicer experience, especially when you are getting ready to break down a whole chicken. But, even if you’re just dicing up the chicken thigh or chicken breast, you want a tool that will allow you to slice through the chicken easily and precisely.
The humble boning knife may be small, but it’s got the right amount of heft, flexibility, sharpness, and curvature to precisely and easily cut raw chicken. Whether you’re looking to debone a whole chicken into its various pieces, cut around the sinew and joints, or just want to slice or dice up a chicken breast or chicken thigh.
Boning knives can either come with a stiff blade or a flexible blade. Although both types still work for most tasks, generally you want a flexible boning knife for filleting fish and a more stiff blade for cutting chicken — as it allows for a bit more force.
The chef’s knife is arguably the most versatile knife in the kitchen arsenal, along with its counterparts the Santoku knife or the Gyuto knife. So, it’s no surprise that the chef’s knife is fully equipped to cut raw chicken with ease.
Unlike smaller knives, the chef’s knife may not get in and around the bones and joints as precisely, but it does come with the weight and heft to easily break a whole chicken apart. Its length also makes it easy to slice chicken breast or thighs, score chicken legs for marination, or dice up chicken for a stirfry.
If you don’t have a specialized knife for the task the chef’s knife will usually be the very next best option. If you are looking for more versatile knives, check out the best Japanese knife for cutting vegetables.
Best Knife For Cutting Raw Chicken
DALSTRONG Phantom Series Boning Knife
- Powerful, Stiff, and Sharp Blade
- Stunning, Comfortable Handle
- Japanese 58+ Rockwell Hardness Real Aus-8 Steel.
- DALSTRONGS 100% Satisfaction Or Money Back Guarantee
- Slightly Asymmetrical Making It Better For Right-Handed People
- Edge Retention Not As Good As Other Tougher Japanese Steels
DALSTRONG is no stranger to creating masterfully elegant, top-performing knives in almost all categories. When it comes to cutting raw chicken, whether it’s deboning and breaking down a whole chicken, or making easy and precise cuts, the DALSTRONG Phantom Series Boning Knife is the perfect option for any home chef.
It’s got a slightly thicker blade, which is more rigid than some of the other flexible boning knives. This makes it stronger and allows you to add a bit more force if required which is great for cutting raw chicken. It’s sharp as can be, as has no trouble being resharpened to maintain its edge.
Its beautiful handle fits perfectly in the palm, and its weight is balanced making it seamless to use for almost any kitchen task. Although it excels at cutting or deboning raw chicken, it can also be used for filleting fish, cutting meats, trimming fat off other meats.
Usually, Japanese Steel knives measure up to 60+ Rockwell Hardness, making them stay sharp for longer, but this knife does lose its edge about as much as a German steel counterpart. Also, the ‘D’ shaped handle does tend to fit better in the right hand, as it’s made to fit comfortably in the palm. This does feel slightly awkward for left-handers.
Nonetheless, it’s incredibly difficult to fault this knife at such a reasonable price point. It’ll get the job done for any cut of chicken, and more!
Mercer Culinary Genesis Boning Knife
- Very Affordable
- Stiff, Durable Blade
- Real German High Carbon Steel
- Handle Is Basic And Has A Screw At The Bottom
- Nothing Incredible
The Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Inch Boning Knife is a classic, well-known brand boasting quality but affordable options for the everyday American Chef. In terms of performance, it will still be able to perform all the necessary duties of a boning knife for cutting raw chicken, without anything fancy.
Although its handle isn’t incredibly attractive, as it does have a screw at the bottom, this Mercer Culinary Boning Knife is stiff, sharp, and made with real German high carbon steel for durability. It will get the job done for you no matter what cut of chicken you are dealing with, and it will still outperform the everyday chef’s knife when cutting meat.
If you’re looking for an everyday boning knife that will help you prepare chicken and other meats easily – but without the price tag then Mercer Culinary has you covered.
Best Japanese Steel
Kyoku Damascus Boning Knife
- Real VG10 Japanese Steel Core
- Slightly Longer Beautiful Blade at 7 Inches
- Ergonomic Handle
- Extra Tough And Durable 58-60+ Rockwell Hardness
- Real Japanese Steel, But Manufactured In China
The Kyoku Boning Knife is the end result of stunning design and craftsmanship. It really is beautiful and its real Japanese tough steel and ergonomic handles make it so enjoyable to use in the kitchen. Believe me, you’ll be reaching to use this knife for almost any task that allows for it, from deboning and cutting chicken, to use on other meats and fish.
Although The Kyoku Boning Knife is made from Real Japanese Damascus VG10 Steel, it’s assembled in China to keep costs down. However, this does mean we are able to pick up Kyoku Japanese knives for a lot cheaper.
Overall, this is a great choice if you are wanting real Japanese Steel, with the look and feel of a traditional Japanese knife, just without the price tag. If you are looking for top-quality Japanese knives that will last a lifetime, you can check out a Deba knife as an alternative for cutting raw chicken and other meats, or even a Bunka knife.
How To Cut A Whole Raw Chicken
The first task is to remove the leg. Using your knife, make a small slit in the space which connects the thigh to the breast. Bend the leg away from the slit to pop the bone out then use your boning knife to cut where the exposed flesh is, straight through to separate the leg.
To remove the drumstick from the thigh, flip the chicken leg skin side down so you can see what’s going on. Between where the leg and the thigh meet there is a large layer of fat. This fat surrounds the joint so by cutting down the fat line you will separate the drumstick from the thigh.
To remove the wings, use your thumb to find where the joint is on the chicken breast, it will feel tough and solid. While holding the chicken off the board by its wing, use your boning knife to cut around the joint. The weight of the chicken will help separate the pieces.
To separate the breast from the backbone, simply find the thick fat line which runs on the sides of the chicken. Use kitchen shears or poultry shears if you’ve got them, otherwise, you can use your boning knife with a firm grip, and cut straight down the fat lines through the ribs. Break the backbone from the chicken breast.
Lastly, to separate the breast into two, break the bone down the middle by pressing onto the chicken skin side up. To help it loosen up you can flip it over and cut a small slit in the bone, encouraging it to break. Once it’s broken simply cut the breast in two down the middle, break away the bone and trim it up.
See this comprehensive video guide which explains the process brilliantly:
How To Cut Raw Chicken Breast
When cutting chicken breast you can often find things slipping and sliding when they shouldn’t be. That’s why it’s important to use a sharp knife, a confident curled-finger grip, and a clean cutting board.
Just like with most meats, you want to slice against the grain. That is, you want to slice against the muscle fibers so that the chicken is much more tender and easy to chew. For a chicken breast, this means cutting horizontally across the whole breast. The tenderloin’s muscle fibers actually run in the opposite, mirrored direction. But, by simply cutting the chicken breast horizontally you will run the knife against both grains reasonably evenly. This leaves you with very tender and consistent pieces of chicken, whether you slice it into thin strips or cubes.
How To Cut Raw Chicken Thigh
Raw chicken thighs can be notoriously hard to cut. The inconsistent shape and the fat that runs all around it make it hard to know where to start. The same can be said whether it’s a whole chicken leg vs. drumstick vs. thigh.
The easiest way to cut raw chicken thigh is to lie it flat, skin side (or smooth side) down. Depending on the thickness of the chicken thigh you can butterfly the thick parts at either end for a more consistent size. If there are any big clumps of inconsistent fat on your thigh you can optionally remove them here too.
Lying it horizontally, cut straight down so you’re cutting the shorter side. You can slice it thin or thick, just be sure to cut it all consistently for a better end result.
Knives To Avoid Using To Cut Raw Chicken
Although you can use most knives to varying degrees of success in the kitchen when it comes to cutting raw chicken, you will be at a higher risk of either cutting yourself or making inconsistent cuts in the chicken. Both of which can be avoided by simply using the right knife.
Avoid using knives like a bread knife, as it will actually tear the flesh of the raw meat which makes the exterior of the chicken overcook more easily. Similarly, using a small paring knife will not allow you to make full clean cuts, and a carving knife should be used for carving the end product — not raw chicken!
If you are just looking at slicing up a chicken breast or chicken thigh you can use any type of slicing knife, like a utility knife, meat cleaver, chef knife, or butcher knife. But still, nothing beats using the right tool for the job — a stiff, sharp, boning knife.
Conclusion - So What Knife Is Best?
If you want a reliable knife that will last a lifetime then the DALSTRONG Phantom Series Boning Knife will conquer all your raw chicken-related tasks from slicing & dicing to breaking down a whole chicken, or parts of the chicken. At a pinch, you can still use a chef’s knife for cutting raw chicken, and it will still do an outstanding job, but it won’t go the extra mile when it comes to deboning, cutting around joints, and making more precise cuts.
When it comes to equipping yourself in the kitchen, making investments in high-quality knives really goes a long way. Not only do they feel great to work with and the quality of the cuts come out better, but they are more enjoyable to use. Believe me, whenever I get a new kitchen knife I find myself reaching to use it at every opportunity I get!