Master the basic technique of cutting chickens into cubes and you can make anything from chicken shish kebabs to chicken pot pie. Some recipes call for raw chicken to be cut in cubes before cooking, while recipes such as chicken salad might use cubed cooked chicken. Raw chicken requires more careful handling to avoid cross-contaminating food, but the actual process of cutting is the same for raw and cooked chicken. You can assume that a recipe that calls for cubed chicken requires boneless, skinless chicken breast because the bones in wings and thighs restrict you from cutting even cubes.
Place the chicken breast on a clean cutting board with the smooth side facing up. Look closely at the meat to observe the direction of the grain of meat fibers. The meat fibers should run side to side in front of you.
Cut the chicken breast crosswise -- against the grain -- into straight, even strips between 1/2 and 1-1/2 inches wide, depending on the desired size for the chicken cubes. Hold the knife perpendicular to the grain direction to cut against the grain. Cubes 1/2 inch in diameter work well for chicken salad, but 1- to 1-1/2 inch diameter cubes are best for kebabs. Use a sharp chef's knife to make clean cuts without shredding the meat.
Turn the long strips so the length runs from side to side in front of you. Cut the strips into shorter pieces equal in length to the width you cut the chicken strips, between 1/2 and 1-1/2 inches, to complete the cubes. Some of the pieces won't be perfect cube shapes because of the rounded and pointed edges around the chicken.
Things You'll Need
One end of a chicken breast is thicker than the other end, so you might need to make a second cut to make the cubes from the thicker end equivalent to the size of the cubes from the tapered end. Alternatively, you can cut the chicken breasts horizontally before cutting them into strips. Cut the breasts with your knife parallel to the cutting board.