How to Cut Chicken Leg Quarters

Chicken leg quarters can be grilled, roasted, and cooked in several other ways. They are a quick and easy meal to cook on a week night too. That’s why you should learn how to cut chicken leg quarters. Whether you are cutting the legs from a whole chicken or buying chicken legs, this step-by-step guide will make everything easier.

What you’ll need

  • a chicken
  • A sharp knife
  • Carving fork
  • Chopping board
  • A bowl for holding chicken pieces
  • Paper towels
  • Gloves

Prepare before cutting

Gather everything that you will need before you start cutting the chicken. Preparation will ensure that everything goes smoothly, and that the cook has a clean surface to work on. This is what should be done at the preparation stage:

  • Put on gloves to keep bacteria from your hands. If the gloves are reusable, make sure you clean them before and after the cutting the chicken.


  • Remove the bird from the plastic wrap it comes in, drain the fluids in the sink, and discard the bag.



  • Rinse the chicken in cold water and chill in the refrigerator for a while if it is warm. Since frozen chicken is firm, it is easier to cut. Avoid washing the chicken in warm water as it encourages bacteria to grow.


  • Dry the chicken with paper towels.


  • Prepare your work surface by washing it and all utensils that’s be used with warm soapy water to prevent cross infection.


  • Choose a sturdy chopping board that’s only used to cut meat to avoid transferring germs.


  • Choose a sharp knife to use in cutting the chicken leg quarters. This will make it easier to cut through the bone of the chicken leg. If the edge is dull, it could be sharpened before cutting the chicken. You could also have a professional occasionally come to your home to sharpen kitchen knives.




Removing the chicken leg from the bird

After gathering all the tools that you’ll need and preparing the work surface, start cutting the chicken. This section will provide guidelines on how to cut chicken leg quarters if you have bought a whole chicken. Here’s the easy way to do it:

  • Place the bird on the chopping board with the breast up to make it easier to see the legs of the chicken and where the joints are located.


  • Separate the legs from the bird. Hold the chicken breast firmly with a carving fork before using a sharp knife to cut along the skin of the legs to completely loosen it. A sharp knife will make the process quicker as you will not need to cut several times.


  • Rotate the drumstick to disconnect the leg from the joint. After that, cut under the ball joints to completely detach the leg from the body of the bird.


  • Firmly hold the chicken leg and pull to separate the hip bones. Then place the piece on a bowl. Repeat the steps to remove the other leg.

Clean up after cutting the chicken

Learning how to properly clean up after cutting chicken leg is just as important as knowing how to cut chicken leg quarters. This is because the raw chicken can carry harmful bacteria. Cleaning up will reduce risk of salmonella infection, and keep the chopping board sanitary and ready for next use.  For the cleanup exercise, you’ll need water, dish soap, white vinegar, cleaning rugs and hydrogen peroxide. The cleaning procedure is pretty straight forward:

  • Use the paper towels to wipe excess fluids from the chopping board and counter then discard then into a waste bin.


  • Dip the chopping board into warm soapy water and scrub it with the cleaning rug.


  • Rinse off the board with running water and wipe it with a clean rug.


  • Soak the rug in water with white vinegar, and use it to wipe down the board. Not only will this disinfect it, it will also leave it with a fresh smell.


  • Use hydrogen peroxide to remove all germs. This will entail soaking a clean rug with 3% hydrogen peroxide, and using it to wipe down the chopping board.


  • Let the chopping board air dry and store in a clean place.



What to do with the chicken leg quarters

You can use the pieces that you’ve cut to prepare delicious meals. This includes roasting the leg quarters with lemon and garlic to infuse flavour into the chicken. For this recipe, you’ll need juice from two lemons, a third cup of virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of dried leaf thyme and a teaspoon of dried leaf parsley. You will also need a teaspoon of Creole seasoning, six chopped garlic gloves, chicken leg quarters, some black pepper and a pinch of salt. To cook, heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Then mix the herbs, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss the chicken leg quarters into the mix and bake for one hour and thirty minutes. Let it stand for ten minutes before serve. You can serve with another dish that you like. This is such a great dish to serve on a Saturday night.

What to do if you’re not ready to cook the quarters immediately

If you aren’t ready to cook the chicken leg quarters, pack and store into freezer bags to cook later. Make sure you use the frozen legs within a couple of months though. After that, the freezer burn will ruin it, and you’ll have to discard it. Using a vacuum sealer, it could stay a little bit longer than that.

Bottom Line

Every cook should be able to cut chicken. If you need other techniques for chicken check out our articles for stir fry and chicken strips. Although it seems like something that’s very simple to do, it can get rather complicated if you’ve never done it before. That’s why you should take some time to learn then start practicing. There’s no substitute for that. This will allow you to practice cooking new dishes with the chicken quarters.   Good luck.


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