How to peel chicken feet

The first few times we butchered broilers, we tossed the feet in the garbage.  Then we found out that these are valued in the Asian community for making really healthy broth.  Turns out, the gelatin, collagen and calcium in the feet contribute a lot of nutritional and health benefits in bone broth.  I used to have a Jewish student that is a nurse-anesthetist; she calls chicken soup “Jewish penicillin”, and I now believe that true bone broth really can be thought of as medicinal as well as appetizing.

Before throwing the feet in the pot, they must be peeled and declawed.  The yellow skin on the feet is what has to come off, and it will loosen if boiled.  The catch, I’ve discovered, is two-fold.

1.  The feet must be boiled before being frozen.  Many times, I part up the chicken, freeze everything, and make broth later.  The yellow skin seems to peel a whole lot easier if it’s done before the feet are frozen.

2.  The feet only need to be boiled for about 10-20 seconds.  Any more than that, the skin starts melting into what lies beneath, or vice versa, and then it’s like trying to peel rubber apart.


Start with a pot of boiling water.

This wasn’t a big pot – maybe 6 cups.


Legs, straight from the butcher site, rinsed and ready to go.


I boiled them two or three at a time, for a slow count of ten. I figure they were in the water for 10-20 seconds. I didn’t wait for the water to return to a boil before pulling them out.


Natter and Rosebud both helped. The legs cool quickly, and this was definitely something the kids could help do.


Natter and I discovered that it works best to start peeling the roughest, scaliest skin at the back of the leg.


Then flip the leg over and peel off the softer skin on the underside.


The footpad usually peels off with the skin.


Grab the skin and pull past the claw.


The claws come off very easily with a knife; it doesn’t take much pressure to cut them off.


Ta-da! One naked leg, ready for the broth pot.


Sometimes a foot will have dirt really ground into the pad.


It’s very easy to remove that part with a sharp knife.

We use a 5″ curved boning knife by Victorinox for taking poultry apart.  Victorinox-Forschner also makes a 4-inch poultry/rabbit boning knife that I think would work well.

I’ll do a post on making bone broth when I pull the legs, backs and wingtips out the freezer in a couple weeks.


About dep31

I am a farm-raised homeschooling mom. I take great joy in making nutritious food that inspires people to take seconds. Thirds, anyone? We are a God-fearing, Christ worshiping family that enjoys good friends and good eats. If the kitchen is clean and the living room carpet is visible, then that's a nice bonus.
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6 Responses to How to peel chicken feet

  1. m atiq ahmad says:


  2. Ally says:

    Hi there! I was curious to know how many pounds that bag of feet was and how long it took you guys to peel them? I think I may have gotten in over my head with 10lbs of feet we will be purchasing from a local farmer. Thanks!

    • dep31 says:

      Hi! It’s been awhile – I know we didn’t weigh them, but I’m pretty sure we only had 30 or 40 feet to do at a time. You’ve probably got 100? Once we got going, it seems like it only took an hour or so for me and two of my kids to get them all peeled – you do get faster at it, the more you do. If you freeze them, its a LOT harder to peel them… but I seem to remember that they were fine in the fridge and we could do them in batches over 3 or 4 days. If there are two of you peeling, figure you’ve got at least 3 or 4 hours work, I’d say! Good luck! They do make amazing broth, especially if you combine them with backs and necks.

  3. joannesfamilyblog says:

    I read this too late 😦
    Is there a rescue-remedy for feet that have been boiled too long? They are very stubborn to peel!!!

    • dep31 says:

      Not that I’ve found… just fingernails and lots of persistence. It does make for quite the story, later! I’ve been known to silence whole fellowship halls at church with chicken butchering stories because somebody asked… 🙂

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