How to Fillet a Chicken Breast

Updated July 20, 2017

Many recipes call for chicken fillet or butterfly chicken. However, it is more expensive to buy prepared chicken fillets than whole or half chicken breast. You can save a significant amount of money by filleting them yourself.

Thoroughly wash your hands before you start preparing the chicken breasts. Make sure all cooking surfaces are clean. Remove any non-poultry foods from the immediate area or cover them well to prevent cross-contamination. Put on food-grade disposable gloves for additional protection.

Pull the skin off the chicken breast, if it is still attached. Split the boneless chicken breast in two halves by cutting vertically through the section where the keel bone was located.

Lay the chicken breast onto the cutting surface. The side where the skin was formerly should be facing down.

Remove the small strips of meat on both sides, called tenderloins, to reveal the tough white tendons. Save and store them in the fridge or freezer for later use, such as chicken tenders, nuggets or chicken strips for stir-fry.

Separate the tendons from the chicken breast halves by carefully cutting under them into the membrane-like tissue. Pull them away from the meat and dispose of them.

As an alternative, make two incisions from both sides of the tendon for easy removal. Pull away the tendon and dispose of it.

Lay a chicken breast half onto the cutting surface. Make sure that the thicker end of the meat faces the knife hand.

Flatten the meat with the other hand. Begin cutting horizontally through the midsection of the chicken breast half. Take caution while cutting, to avoid the hand that is holding the chicken meat down, to prevent injuring your fingers.

Steady the knife to cut the fillets evenly and to the same thickness. Check your cutting progress at the halfway point to make sure that you are not cutting too high or too low.

Put a chicken breast half onto the cutting surface. Just like in regular filleting, begin cutting from the thicker end of the meat.

Flatten the meat with the one hand and with the other, cut horizontally through the width of the chicken breast half. Cut through most of the chicken breast half, but not all the way through.

Unfold the meat. It should now resemble the wings of a butterfly.

Stretch cling film onto a clean surface. Place fillets on top. Then stretch another sheet of wrap over the fillets. Pound the chicken to desired thickness and tenderness with a mallet.


Wash hands before and after meat preparation. Use proper kitchen hygiene and prepare chicken away from other food to avoid cross-contamination.


Fillet knives are very sharp. Watch your fingers when preparing chicken fillets.

Things You'll Need

  • Boneless chicken breasts
  • Sharpened fillet knife
  • Clean cutting board or cutting surface
  • Cling film
  • Meat mallet
  • Food-grade protective gloves
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About the Author

German-native Petra Sando has professionally written for companies in the U.S.A. and Australia since 2009, with subjects ranging from kids and parenting to home improvement and motorcycles. Her work is featured on various Web sites, including She graduated from the University of Hamburg, Germany with a "Grafik/Design Diplom" in 1998.