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How to Truss a Chicken

Over the past 10 months, there’s been a small revolution taking shape in our kitchens.

I’m not saying it hasn’t been a slog to get meals on the table some days. But as sheltering in place has gone from a panicked necessity to an oddly familiar routine, our cooking capacity has grown and even flourished.

We’ve been making our own comfort food, experimenting with new recipes, and honing new kitchen skills—like how to truss a chicken.

how to truss a chicken

I’ll admit that even I needed to bone up on my chicken trussing skills after a few years of depending on rotisserie chicken.

But like the feeling of being on roller skates after, uh, a few years, it all came back to me when I tried trussing a chicken again recently.

Right after I started food writing full time way back in 2009, I worked at a neighborhood butcher shop for a few months.

trussed whole chicken
Photo: Casey Barber

The guys there (yes, it was all guys at the time, but they were very nice) taught me a lot, though they never let me break down a whole quarter of a cow. That was probably for the best.

However, that’s where I learned how to truss a chicken and this is the way I’ve been doing it ever since.

What does it mean to truss a chicken?

Basically, you’re tying the chicken up so it’s more compact and less floppy in the roasting pan.

This method is simple, and only requires one special piece of equipment: kitchen twine. (OK, and a pair of scissors to cut the twine, if you’re being picky.)

It takes less than two minutes to truss up your chicken and get it ready for the oven.

trussed whole chicken
Photo: Casey Barber

Why should you truss a chicken?

By pulling the wings and legs close to the body of the bird, you’re creating a nice little package that allows all the chicken parts to cook more evenly.

The wings won’t be prone to burning, and the more uniform shape will insulate the breasts, helping prevent them from overcooking and becoming dried out.

Plus, your roasted chicken will look absolutely fantastic and picture-perfect when you pull it from the oven.

Watch the video and take a look at the step-by-step photo tutorial to learn, once and for all, how to truss a chicken.

trussed whole chicken

How to Truss a Chicken

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Active Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes

Learn how to truss a chicken, a simple technique that takes less than two minutes and makes your roast chicken juicy and picture-perfect.

Materials

  • 1 whole chicken

Tools

  • cutting board
  • kitchen twine
  • scissors

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken, breast side up and legs facing away from you, on a cutting board. Shimmy a long piece of twine under the chicken's butt end, with the ends out so you can grab them.

    trussing a chicken
  2. Grab each side of the twine and pull it toward you, placing it between the legs so it kind of cradles the butt end.

    trussing a chicken
  3. Cross the twine into an X that nestles under point of the chicken's keel bone. (The keel bone is the bone that runs down the middle of the chicken breast, in case you didn't know what that was called. Now you know!

    trussing a chicken
  4. Pull the X taut and then shimmy the twine under the "ankles" of each drumstick.
  5. Wrap the twine around the "ankles" and then pull them in, crossing the twine into another X shape so the drumsticks are yanked in tightly against the body of the chicken.

    trussing a chicken
  6. Pull the twine towards you so it nestles into the crack between the drumsticks and the breasts and stretches to the outside edge of each wing. (I guess those would be the "elbows" of the bird, to continue our analogy.)

    trussing a chicken
    trussing a chicken
  7. Here's the fun part: Hold the twine in place with your knuckles and carefully flip the chicken over.

    trussing a chicken
  8. Make sure the twine is still pulled taut, and tie it into a knot.

    trussing a chicken
    trussing a chicken
  9. Snip the ends of the twine off, and your bird is ready to be roasted.

    trussing a chicken

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