How to Carve a Turkey

Thanksgiving has arrived and all the cooking is done.  Now its time to carve up the turkey.  Feeling the pressure yet?  All those eyes on you?  Here is your step-by-step (ooo baby!) instructions for carving up that bird!

You’ve grilled, braised, or roasted up a beauty of a bird, but now what? While carving a turkey might seem daunting the first go-round, all it takes is a little know-how and practice (it gets easier every time!) to carve and plate a turkey worthy of centerpiece status.

P.S. Don’t forget to show off the intact bird before you dig in, but carve it up in the kitchen (rather than table-side) to avoid prying eyes, all the pressure, and contain any potential mess.


Let the Turkey Rest


After you take the turkey out of the oven, place it on a carving board breast-side up, and let it rest for about 30 minutes (45 minutes for any bird larger than 14 pounds).


Slice Through the Skin Around the Leg


Use a boning knife (a paring knife will work in a pinch) to cut through the skin around one leg.


Remove the Leg


Pull the leg away from the body until the ball joint (where the thigh bone connects to the pelvis) pops out of its socket, and is exposed. Using downward pressure, cut through the joint with a chef’s knife. Cut through any remaining flesh attached, and set the leg aside on a separate cutting board.


Turkey Leg


Here’s what the whole leg should look like. Repeat the previous steps on the other side of the turkey.


Break Down the Leg


Flip the leg over, so that it’s skin side down. Make an incision into the flesh between the thigh and the drumstick, and pull apart to expose the joint.


Separate the Thigh From the Drumstick


Using downward pressure, cut through the flesh at the joint (between the two bones). Repeat on the other leg.


Start to Remove the Breast


Make an incision parallel to the breastbone, using the tip of the boning knife, in order to tear the skin as little as possible.


Separate the Breast From the Body


Cut through the flesh along the lines of the incision, until you meet resistance where the wing connects to the body.


Separate the Wing


Pull the breast and attached wing away from the carcass to expose the joint, and remove it, wiggling the knife into the joint as necessary.


Turkey Breast and Wing


Here’s what the whole breast with the wing still connected should look like. Repeat the previous steps on the other side of the turkey.


Start to Separate the Wing From the Breast


Make an incision around the area where the wing connects to the breast.


Finish Removing the Wing


Extend the incision around the whole joint to loosen the skin (and prevent it tearing as much as possible). Cut the wing away from the breast through the joint.


Slice the Breast Against the Grain


Holding the skin taut as necessary, slice the breast against the grain (make these portions as thick or thin as you desire.) Repeat the previous steps to break down the other breast and wing.

Arrange on a Platter


Arrange on a platter, show off your handiwork, and serve with all the fixings.


VOILA!  There you have it!  Looks and sounds much easier than it actually is I’ll bet.  This may be the case of one of those “NAILED IT!” memes…lol.  It also looks like they used a chicken instead of a turkey for photographic purposes…haaa.

Good luck on carving your turkeys this holiday!  Comment how your carving went and share pictures as well!

IMAGES BY Nicole Perry and Anna Monette Roberts


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