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How to Debone a Duck Leg or Chicken Leg 04:44

Tim Ma

Learn this classic skill to diversify cooking applications for chicken and duck legs.

How to Debone a Duck Leg or Chicken Leg 04:44

Tim Ma

Learn this classic skill to diversify cooking applications for chicken and duck legs.

Prep Time Cook Time Total Time Serving Size

The Steps

  1. 1. Be sure to use a knife that is very sharp; a dull knife will make the process much more difficult, can potentially destroy the product, and increases the chance of accidents. 01:02

  2. 2. With the skin side down, locate the leg and thigh bone. The leg bone will run lengthwise down the cut and the smaller thigh bone will be attached perpendicularly to it towards the larger part of the leg. Once the thigh bone has been located, slice into the meat to expose it, and gently slice on either side of it to loosen it from the meat. Be sure not to cut all the way to the skin. The intention is merely to cut the meat precisely from around the bone. Once the bone is further exposed, use a knife or your fingers to pull the bone up and away from the meat. Slide a chef’s knife laterally underneath the bone and cut outwards to detach the end of the bone from the meat. 01:22

  3. 3. Locate the leg bone and neatly slice down into the meat, exposing the leg. Once the leg is visible, make incisions on both sides of the bone until it starts to become loose, being sure not to cut all the way through. Use your fingers to gently pull the bone up. Insert a chef’s knife flat underneath the bone with the blade pointing towards the end of the leg, away from the knee, and glide it laterally through to remove the meat from the bone. 02:03

  4. 4. Using the side of a chef’s knife or your hands, push (do not cut) the remaining meat away from the leg and thigh bone. Once it appears that all of the meat has been separated from the leg and thigh bones, leaving only the knee, make small incisions close to the bone to expose the knee. Rather than completely slicing the meat from the bone, make a tiny cut, then push the meat away, alternating between these two methods. Repeat as necessary until the entire joint is free. There should be little meat left on the bone itself, as it is ideal for it to remain on the leg and thigh. 03:00

  5. 5. Trim any loose cartilage or excess fat from the meat in order to clean up the presentation. Do not over-trim the fat, as this is where much of the flavor lies. Feel around the meat to make sure no small bones are left over. 03:55

What You'll Need


- Small chefs knife (very sharp)


- Bone-in duck or chicken leg

Chef Notes

While preparing a duck or chicken leg, leaving it on the bone is perfectly fine. Deboning offers a more elegant presentation and can lend to a tidier dining experience.

Deboned duck or chicken legs can be employed for a range of applications, most classically to make 
stuffed roulades. They can also be pan-seared, roasted, or grilled. However, deboned meats cook much faster and that must be considered when cooking.

Chef Tim makes what he refers to as a “duck leg sandwich.” He tops the flattened meat with sausage, and places another deboned leg on top to create a creative and unexpected spin on a sandwich.

Once the bone has been removed, do not throw it away! Bones contribute profound depth of flavor to broths and stocks, not to mention are nutritional powerhouses. To learn how to make bone broth, visit Chef Ben Lee’s “How to Make Chicken Stock” tutorial located at the bottom of the page. In this recipe, duck leg bones can be substituted for chicken if that is what has been deboned.


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Taught by


Chef Tim Ma

Washington D.C.

Tim Ma is the owner and chef at several Washington D.C.-area eateries: Arlington, VA restaurant Water & Wal... read more