Learn How To Cut Chicken Breasts for all types of recipes. It's easy to do and will save you money over buying the precut chicken in the store.
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There are countless recipes that call for sliced pieces of chicken for kabobs, stir-fries, or fajitas. And then there are recipes that want chicken cubes, like in salads, pasta dishes, stews, or soups like this Chicken and Corn Soup.
Cutting raw chicken might seem hard to do but you just need a good cutting board and a sharp knife to get the job done.
Different-sized chicken breasts
Depending on where and how you purchase chicken breasts the size can vary dramatically, like the ones below.
The first two were bought in a bag pre-frozen so it was kind of hard to tell what I was getting. As you can see the one on the left is much smaller and thinner than the middle piece with actually has a nice thickness to it.
The breast on the right was bought fresh from the butcher shop. It was very large and very thick. It was actually too thick for frying or grilling properly without reducing the size but cutting it in half.
The different ways to cut a chicken breast
There are various ways to prepare chicken breast and a lot of different terms. Most likely when a recipe calls for sliced or cubed chicken you will be using boneless chicken breasts.
Another thing that affects cooking chicken breast is the teardrop shape of the breast. The top is thick and the bottom is thin which makes it hard to cook evenly.
- Butterfly - this technique means cutting the chicken in half almost all the way through but it is still left intact on one side, and is done with a thick piece of chicken. This is perfect if you want to stuff the chicken breast.
- Cutlet - Big thick chicken breasts sometimes are hard to get cooked properly so make chicken breast cutlets by simply cutting the chicken breast in half horizontally. These cutlets will cook quickly and are also perfect for sandwiches.
- Sliced or strips - This technique requires slicing the chicken breast into varying sizes of strips. Determine the width depending on your recipe. For instance larger strips for chicken fingers and narrower strips for fajitas.
- Cubed - To make chicken cubes you cut the chicken into strips first, then cut the strips into cubes. You can cut any size of cube you need.
Before you cut chicken
- It's best to have a nice large and sturdy cutting board and a sharp knife.
- Before cutting the chicken. I like to wipe the breast with a paper towel to dry the surface so it's not as slippery when cutting. Place the paper towel directly in the trash after using it to prevent contaminating other surfaces.
- After you are finished cutting the chicken immediately wash your hands, the knife, and the cutting board to keep everything clean.
- Do not use the cutting board for other foods until it has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
Steps for cutting chicken breasts
How to butterfly a chicken breast - place the chicken on the cutting board, hold the top of the breast with your hand, and with a sharp chef's knife start cutting at the side of the breast, slicing the breast horizontally, but not all the way through. So you will still have one whole chicken breast.
How to slice chicken cutlets - place the chicken on the cutting board, hold the top of the breast with your hand, and with a sharp chef's knife start cutting at the thickest end, slicing the breast horizontally into two pieces.
Go slow while cutting and move your hand as necessary for safety.
How to cut chicken into strips and cubes
You can cut the chicken into strips and the size depends on what you are cooking. Here I used the just-cut chicken cutlets.
How to slice chicken- Place the chicken on a cutting board and with a chef's knife cut the breast into the desired size strip.
How to cube chicken breast - Once you cut the chicken into slices, place the slices horizontally on a cutting board, and then using a sharp knife cut the slices into the desired size cube.
I used cubed chicken to make this Chicken Soup and cut it into small bite-sized cubes.
Another technique for thick chicken breasts
We talked about the chicken breast being too thick, and if you are not comfortable slicing a big chicken breast in half you can make slices and cubes this way.
Cut the breast into slices, then turn the slices cut side down on the cutting board.
Cut the wide slice in half to make it thinner, and if needed cube the chicken.
FAQs for Chicken
No, it is not necessary or advisable. Washing chicken will likely spread germs to other surfaces or food. Cooking the chicken properly will kill any bacteria.
No, it is not necessary. Before touching raw chicken make sure to wash and dry your hands. If you have a cut on your fingers or hand, it is suggested to wear disposable gloves.
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory family-friendly recipes for your cooking and baking inspiration.