Step 10
Cutting & Bagging For Freezing

After the butchered chickens have cooled down, and aged overnight, we bring them in the house to cut up and package.

The picture above shows our kitchen table, set up as a chicken packaging center. The whole chickens are removed from the cooler, drained, and carried into the house in the stainless steel bowl. Then they are laid out on the wire cooling racks set over a shallow pan, where they can drain and dry a bit more. We use a small digital scale to weigh them. Our average weight this year was around 4.5 pounds. We have a cutting board and, at the far end of the table there is a vacuum sealing machine.

The vacuum sealer does a good job of sucking all the air out of a bag and heat sealing it. This is only the second year we’ve used such a device. 

2017 Update: A couple years after making this tutorial, we discovered poultry shrink bags. They work much, much better than a vacuum sealer. See below for details.

That’s my son, James, modeling with the vacuum sealer and a bag he just made with the machine. I do have one complaint about that vacuum sealer. It tends to overheat quickly and shut itself down. Then we have to wait foor it to cool.

We will vacuum-bag up several whole chickens (the biggest ones) for roasting. But we cut most of our birds into parts. For example, we will cut some in half for grilling...

My heavy Forschner knife (mentioned back in Step1) does a far better job that a 5” boning knife when it comes to cutting a chicken in half. Here are two beautiful halves:

As previously mentioned, the majority of our chickens get cut into parts. I cut wings off, legs off, and separate the breast from the back. Sometimes I’ll cut thighs off the legs. So we end up with meal-size bags of legs, wings, breasts, and thighs. We package big bags of wings. It is a family tradition for James to have homegrown chicken wings on his birthday.

In the above picture I have removed the leg and wing from one side of the chicken and I have just removed the wing that is in my hand. I’ve had no good training on cutting a chicken up. But it’s not rocket science. Just cut around the leg or wing where it joins the body. You’ll figure it out.

And there is a nice leg ready for the freezer. All that remains of the bird is the back and breast, which I will cut next…

The heavy knife does a good job of cutting on down through the weak rib bones that span between the meaty breasts and the backs, which have very little meat on them. I am holding the back on the right of the picture and the breast is, of course, that part on the left. Here’s a picture of the two separated parts:

And here’s a picture of separated breasts, legs and wings, ready to be bagged:

The backs go into a big stock pot along with the chicken necks we saved during butchering. They will be used to make stock, which is what I'll tell you about next.

Bagging Update 

For bagging whole chickens, we now use poultry shrink bags. They are amazingly easy to use, and thhey are the hands-down best way to package chickens for the freezer. If you go to you can see a step-by-step photo tutorial that explains how to use poultry shrink bags.