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At first glance, it may seem unnecessary, but learning how to truss a chicken for roasting is key to ensure succulent, evenly-cooked poultry that looks as good as it tastes. Discover you how to truss a chicken using twine to make your best roast chicken yet.

A trussed raw chicken.

Trussing sounds fussy, but it’s actually a surprisingly easy culinary technique. It means tying poultry (turkey, chicken, capon, or Cornish hen) into a compact bundle that ensures you’ll get a perfectly roasted bird that’s cooked evenly from end to end.

Trussing a chicken makes it much easier to prevents the wings and legs from burning. When you don’t truss your chicken, the breast cavity can stay open allowing too much hot air to circulate inside of it. That dries out the breast before the thighs and legs are properly cooked.

I mastered this method for how to truss a chicken while perfecting my Rotisserie Chicken recipe. But you can use this same tying process for any roast poultry recipe you’re whipping up in your kitchen.

If you want juicy white meat and properly cooked thighs and legs, learning how to truss a chicken before roasting is essential. Read on for my complete guide!

Table of Contents
  1. Trussing notes
  2. Step-by-step instructions
  3. Recipe FAQs
  4. How to Truss a Chicken Recipe

Trussing notes

  • Chicken: Any kind of bird you like. Pre-brined, dry-brined, broilers, fryers, roasters, and natural chickens all benefit from trussing before roasting.
  • Twine: Seek out unbleached cotton kitchen twine, also known as butcher’s twine, which is strong enough to hold a chicken together but won’t burn. Most butchers keep this on hand so you can simply ask for a long piece at the counter while you’re ordering your meat so you’ll always have some on hand. (Alternatively, you can buy your own at retailers like HomeGoods or on Amazon; I buy this twine.)
  • Thaw completely: If you bought a frozen chicken, make sure it is safely thawed before trussing and roasting. The safest was to thaw a frozen chicken is in the refrigerator (and never at room temperature). Check your refrigerator’s internal temperature; it should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Keep the chicken in its original wrapping. Place the chicken on a tray or shallow pan to collect any juices that may leak out as it thaws. Store it at or near the bottom of your refrigerator so if it leaks, it won’t contaminate anything under it. Allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of frozen chicken.
  • Stuffing a turkeychicken, or hen: For food safety reasons, and for a more evenly cooked bird, most modern recipes don’t encourage stuffing a turkey. If you decide to stuff your turkey, make sure the stuffing is warm when it goes in so it has a head start in cooking (either because you just finished making it, or because you made it in advance and reheated it). Use a large spoon or your hands to loosely stuff the body and neck cavities (do not pack it tightly because the stuffing expands while it cooks). Truss the main cavity with trussing pins to keep the stuffing inside. The stuffing must register 165 degrees on an internal thermometer to be safe to eat.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Place the chicken breast-side up, and run the center of the string under the neck in the front of the bird. Bring the string up towards the wings and legs. Use your thumbs to tuck the wings in as you bring the string around towards the legs. Keep the string tight to force the wings firmly against the body. The string should roughly follow the contours of the chicken breast.
Someone trussing a raw chicken.
  1. Bring the string around between leg and breast, then give it one overhand knot and pull tight. The wings will be solidly pinned to the body, and the chicken breast will pop up. Note that this is NOT a solid knot – we just want to be able to tighten up on the string. Bring the ends of string down between the chicken’s legs, then cross the legs at the “ankles” above/behind the point of the chicken breast. Make sure your previous knot is still pulled tight. 
Someone trussing a raw chicken.
  1. Separate the strings, loop them around the outside of the chicken ankles, then tie a square knot to finish it off. The legs should now be cinched in close to the body. Snip the extra ends of string, and discard them.
Someone trussing a raw chicken.

Recipe FAQs

What if I don’t have any butcher’s twine?

Try my stringless trussing technique, which uses the loose skin of the chicken to hold the legs in place. Place the chicken with the cavity facing you. You should see two skin flaps on either side of the cavity, near the legs. With a sharp paring knife, cut a small slit in the center of each flap, going through the skin. Use your finger if necessary to widen the hole. Your finger should just be able to fit in each slit. Carefully tuck the end of each drumstick into the slit on the opposite side of the leg. When you’re finished, the legs will cross over each other and stay tight against the body of the bird. Next, grab the wing by the tip, gently twisting it away from you, and fold the tips of the wings behind the back. The weight of the bird holds them in place while everything cooks.

How to Make Rotisserie Chicken

Learn how to make rotisserie chicken at home with my super simple spice rub (4 ingredients plus salt & pepper). Or, recreate that same delicious flavor for your next oven-roasted chicken!

1 hour 15 minutes
View Recipe

Birds for roasting

Someone trussing a raw chicken.

How to Truss a Chicken

At first glance, it may seem unnecessary, but learning how to truss a chicken for roasting is key to ensure succulent, evenly-cooked poultry that looks as good as it tastes. Discover you how to truss a chicken using twine to make your best roast chicken yet.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Total Time 3 mins
Servings 5 to 7 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 1

Ingredients 

  • 1 (3-5 pound) whole chicken (see note 1)
  • 3 feet unbleached cotton butcher’s twine (see note 2)

Instructions 

  • Place the chicken breast-side up, and run the center of the string under the neck in the front of the bird. Bring the string up towards the wings and legs.
  • Use your thumbs to tuck the wings in as you bring the string around towards the legs. Keep the string tight to force the wings firmly against the body. The string should roughly follow the contours of the chicken breast.
  • Bring the string around between leg and breast, then give it one overhand knot and pull tight. The wings will be solidly pinned to the body, and the chicken breast will pop up. Note that this is NOT a solid knot – we just want to be able to tighten up on the string. 
  • Bring the ends of string down between the chicken’s legs, then cross the legs at the “ankles” above/behind the point of the chicken breast. Make sure your previous knot is still pulled tight. 
  • Separate the strings, loop them around the outside of the chicken ankles, then tie a square knot to finish it off. The legs should now be cinched in close to the body. Snip the extra ends of string, and discard them.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Chicken: Any kind of bird you like. Pre-brined, dry-brined, broilers, fryers, roasters, and natural chickens all benefit from trussing before roasting.
  2. Twine: Seek out unbleached cotton kitchen twine, also known as butcher’s twine, which is strong enough to hold a chicken together but won’t burn. Most butchers keep this on hand so you can simply ask for a long piece at the counter while you’re ordering your meat so you’ll always have some on hand. (Alternatively, you can buy your own at retailers like HomeGoods or on Amazon; I buy this twine.)
  3. Thaw completely: If you bought a frozen chicken, make sure it is safely thawed before trussing and roasting. The safest was to thaw a frozen chicken is in the refrigerator (and never at room temperature). Check your refrigerator’s internal temperature; it should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Keep the chicken in its original wrapping. Place the chicken on a tray or shallow pan to collect any juices that may leak out as it thaws. Store it at or near the bottom of your refrigerator so if it leaks, it won’t contaminate anything under it. Allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of frozen chicken.
  4. Stuffing a turkeychicken, or hen: For food safety reasons, and for a more evenly cooked bird, most modern recipes don’t encourage stuffing a turkey. If you decide to stuff your turkey, make sure the stuffing is warm when it goes in so it has a head start in cooking (either because you just finished making it, or because you made it in advance and reheated it). Use a large spoon or your hands to loosely stuff the body and neck cavities (do not pack it tightly because the stuffing expands while it cooks). Truss the main cavity with trussing pins to keep the stuffing inside. The stuffing must register 165 degrees on an internal thermometer to be safe to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 1kcalProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 1mgPotassium: 1mgVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 1mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. I also watched the bird get trussed up when young, but then it seemed more about keeping my Grandmother’s special recipe stuffing in! She raised her family amidst the great depression, so nothing was ever wasted, not even 10 inches of twine. Now I’m at my Grandmother’s age, the twine has become harder to hold on to, there’s not enough when I get to the end. Thanks for saying what the starting length should be.