How To Peel Chicken Feet, and Prepare Them To Cook

How To Prepare Chicken Feet For Cooking |
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Last weekend I came home to discover that something has been getting into our chicken run. In the last week we’ve lost 11 out of 25 chickens. That’s almost half our flock! The price of raising these meat birds just doubled. Ouch.

We were oblivious until my little girl was outside playing and noticed one of the chickens laying on its side in the chicken run. She hurried inside to tell me that something was wrong. When I went out to see what was the matter I found the chicken still alive, but with a big gash in its side. The wound was fresh. Something had just been in the run trying to kill my bird. I glanced around at the flock and discovered another chicken laying a little further in the woods. It was dead, but the body was still warm.

Dang it. My guess is it was a fox.

I called my husband to come and finish off the suffering bird. Although we had plenty else we’d planned on getting done that day, butchering became top priority. (Homesteading is like that. You never can really plan your days. Nature will always throw a curve ball.) The birds aren’t quite fully grown, but at eight weeks old they were big enough to get a meal off of. We decided that since the kill was fresh it would be safe to eat the chickens, we just cut around the damaged meat on each bird.

So, we set to work plucking. Plucking chickens stinks, by the way. Literally. Like smelly, wet dog. We really need to get a mechanical plucker.

Wanting to salvage as much as possible, the feet were processed with the rest of the good meat. Chicken feet make the best stock, and are an excellent source of rich gelatin.

fresh chicken feet

As you’d imagine, the feet are the dirtiest part of the bird. You don’t even want to know what’s on them.

Cleaning well is crucial.

washing chicken feet

I like to hold the feet under hot running water to wash most of the gunk off. Then I use a scrub brush to get them as clean as possible. I don’t use soap or bleach, or anything like that. Just lots of hot water and scrubbing.

washed chicken feet

I’m not gonna lie. This picture totally creeps me out. The texture of the feet is even weirder than they look. Try not to think about it too much as you work with them.


scalding chicken feet

Once the feet are super clean, toss them into a pot of simmering water for between 10-20 seconds. Don’t boil them. A hot simmer just on the verge of a boil is perfect.

boiling chicken feet

Use tongs to transfer them to a bowl of ice cold water.

chicken feet in cold water

Let them sit in the cold water for a few seconds before taking them out one by one to peel.


peeling chicken feet

The skin should peel right off. If it isn’t peeling easily, pop it back into the simmering water for another 10 seconds. That should do the trick. Peel as much as you can by hand.

cleaning chicken feet with scrub brush

Next I like to use a stiff brush to finish scrubbing off what remains of the skin. The feet will be nice and white.

How To Prepare Chicken Feet

Are you sufficiently creeped out yet?

Me too.

We’re almost done. I promise.

chopped chicken foot toenail

Most people prefer to chop off the tips to remove the nails before cooking. They probably don’t taste very good.

Now the chicken feet are ready to be cooked however you see fit.

chicken feet stock

Whenever I have chicken feet I like to use them to make a rich bone stock. I just toss them into the pot with all of the other bone and veggie scraps I’m cooking. Some people make stock out of chicken feet alone. You can read how I use kitchen waste to make From Scratch Chicken Stock for a nutritious soup base.

You can store the feet in the fridge for a few days until you’re ready to use them, or put them in a freezer bag for longer storage.

Ready to give it a try?

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About Kendra 1103 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


  1. I live in South Africa where chicken feet are sold in the supermarket, so it’s not as strange for us to eat them. The slang term for chicken feet bought cooked is “run aways”

  2. Hi Kendra,

    I’ve heard that Opossums also have a propensity for killing chickens. Opossums attract and feed off of deer ticks too so they do an amazing job in their natural attempt to limit the tick population.

  3. Yep! I’m with you on the creep factor! Lol!
    We intend to do meat chickens next year (no place to do them this year) and I would not want to waste good broth ingredients!
    Your tutorial makes it look doable, if not easy–
    I totally hear you on the stinky/ smelly de- feathering process!
    That is the one thing that I cannot forget about my grandparent’s chicken culling days…that & a chicken running around with its head cut off…for like a half an hour–CREEPY CHICKEN DINOSAUR BRAINS!
    I’ll be using a killing cone when the time comes!
    I wonder if you can pressure can these up for later use? ….jars of chicken feet…even more creepy! Lol!

  4. My Mom who was born in 1935 and raised on a farm in upstate New York said that one of the best treats they had as children was fried chicken feet that her Grandmother would make. Pretty much everything they had to eat came from the farm and not much could be wasted. 🙂

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