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Do You Cut Chicken With or Against the Grain?

Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by Lauren Beck

Slicing chicken breast may seem confusing, but it ultimately depends on personal preference.

Cutting with the grain means tougher, elongated slices, while cutting against the grain yields shorter, tender pieces.

Opt for against-the-grain slices for quick and easy additions to salads or stir-fries, cooking rapidly for a delightful bite.

How to Cut Against the Grain?

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to slice chicken breast against the grain:

  1. Place your chicken breast on a cutting board, with the thinner side facing up.
  2. Use a sharp knife to slice the chicken breast in half horizontally, cutting through the center of the meat.
  3. Turn each half so that the cut side is facing down.
  4. Slice the chicken breast into thin strips, cutting against the grain.
  5. Enjoy!

What Knife to Use When Cutting Chicken?

A sharp knife is always your best bet when cutting chicken. A dull knife will not only make the job more difficult, but it can also be dangerous.

A sharp knife will glide through the meat more easily, making for cleaner, safer cuts.

When choosing a knife to use, look for one that’s comfortable in your hand and has a sharp, serrated blade.

A serrated knife is ideal for cutting meat because the saw-like teeth make it easier to slice through tough surfaces.

Can You Cut Chicken Breasts in Half?

Yes, you can cut chicken breasts in half. In fact, this is a great way to get more even slices of meat.

To do so, simply place your chicken breast on a cutting board with the thinner side facing up.

Use a sharp knife to slice the chicken breast in half horizontally, cutting through the center of the meat.

Should You Cut Chicken Breasts Before Cooking? 

It’s up to you. Some people prefer to cook chicken breasts whole, while others prefer to cut them into smaller pieces before cooking.

If you’re uncertain, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and cook the chicken breasts whole.

This will help ensure that they’re cooked through properly and avoid any potential food safety issues.

How to Slice Chicken Breast for Stir-Fries?

cutting chicken breast

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to slice chicken breast for stir-fries:

  1. Place your chicken breast on a cutting board, with the thinner side facing up.
  2. Use a sharp knife to slice the chicken breast in half horizontally, cutting through the center of the meat.
  3. Turn each half so that the cut side is facing down.
  4. Slice the chicken breast into thin strips, cutting against the grain.

How to Cut Chicken Breast Into Strips?

Here are easy step-by-step instructions (with photos) for how to cut chicken breasts into strips. We use this method most often when making grilled chicken, chicken fingers, or stir-fries.

  1. Start with a boneless, skinless chicken breast. If your chicken breast is extra large, you may want to cut it in half crosswise first.
  2. Place the chicken breast on a cutting board, and hold it steady with your non-dominant hand.
  3. Use a sharp knife to make a lengthwise cut down the center of the chicken breast, following the natural curve of the meat.
  4. Next, make 1-2 inch slices perpendicular to the first cut, making sure to cut against the grain.
  5. Finally, cut each of those strips into smaller pieces, also cutting against the grain.

How to Cut Chicken Into Cubes?

Cubes of chicken are perfect for stir-fries, kabobs, or salads. To cut the chicken into cubes, start with a boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch strips, and then cut each strip into 1-inch cubes [1]. It’s that easy!

Common Mistakes Beginners Make When Cutting Chicken Breasts

Here are some of the most common mistakes beginners make when cutting chicken breasts:

  • Not using a sharp knife – A dull knife will make the job more difficult and can also be dangerous. Always use a sharp knife when cutting chicken.
  • Not cutting against the grain – When slicing chicken breast, be sure to cut against the grain. This will result in more tender, flavorful meat.
  • Not knowing how to hold the chicken – It’s important to keep the chicken steady while you’re cutting it. The best way to do this is to place your non-dominant hand on top of the chicken breast, fingers spread out. This will help you keep a firm grip while you’re slicing.
  • Slicing the chicken too thick or thin – Slices that are too thick will take longer to cook through, while slices that are too thin may dry out. Aim for slices that are 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.

Does It Matter Which Way You Cut Chicken?

Yes, the way you cut chicken can affect its texture and cooking time.

Cutting against the grain (across the muscle fibers) makes the meat more tender while cutting with the grain (parallel to the fibers) can result in chewier chicken.

For even cooking, it’s essential to cut chicken pieces into uniform sizes.

Conclusion

Drawing from my own experience, cutting chicken breast can be approached in different ways, tailored to your specific requirements. Utilize a sharp knife for clean cuts and opt for against-the-grain slicing to achieve superior results.

When in doubt, exercising caution is paramount, and cooking the chicken breasts whole is a safe choice.

Embrace experimentation with different techniques, and you’ll discover the perfect approach for each culinary endeavor.

Remember, confidence in the kitchen comes with practice, and soon you’ll be effortlessly slicing chicken breast like a pro!

Reference:

  1. https://www.livestrong.com/article/459747-how-to-cube-chicken/
Lauren Beck
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