How to Carve a Turkey

Have you ever tried to carve a turkey and ended up hacking at it?

You have spent hours stuffing and baking your bird. You arrange it decoratively on a serving platter and proudly carry it out to the table to the accompanying oohs and aahs.

Then the whole effect is ruined when you try to hack it (sorry, carve it). Learn how to carve a turkey with professionalism and ease.

Things to Remember:

  • First of all make sure your turkey has been resting for at least 15 minutes, preferably 30. This allows the juices to settle and redistribute throughout, resulting in tender and flavorsome meat. It also makes carving much easier.

  • While the turkey is resting, cover with tin foil to retain the heat.
  • You will need a sharp long-bladed knife (or an electric knife), plus a long 2-pronged fork.
  • Use a carving tray to catch the juices.
  • Cut away any string used to tie the bird.
  • If your bird has been stuffed, spoon the stuffing from the cavity into a serving dish.

How to Carve a Turkey

Carving Leg

  • First remove the legs. Insert the fork into the breast to hold the bird steady. Cut downward into the skin and meat to the joint connecting the leg to the breast. Bend the leg outwards with the carving knife until you can see the joint where the thighbone and backbone connect.
  • Keep cutting at a slight angle towards the joint then cut down and through until the leg section (the thigh and drumstick) can be easily removed. This should not require much force. In fact the leg may even snap free without cutting. If you are having trouble at this stage you are probably trying to cut through bone.

Removing Wings

  • To remove the wings, ease them away from the body and cut down, again until you meet the joint. You may need to pull the wing out with your hand while cutting to loosen the wing from the bird. Again this should be fairly easy.

Carving Breast

  • To carve the breast of the turkey, cut 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick slices. Using the fork to hold the bird steady, start from the top of the breast and cut downwards with straight, even strokes. Continue cutting until you reach the breastbone, then repeat on the other side.

  • Now you need to separate the thigh from the drumstick by cutting through the joint. The thigh and drumstick can be left as is or carved. Slice off the dark meat from the thigh by cutting along its length to the bone, then peeling off the meat. Chop into chunks.
  • Arrange your turkey meat on a serving platter and present to your guests.

Learning how to carve a turkey, even if it isn't perfect, will definitely ease your stress and help you focus on the more important things, like relaxing with your family and friends.


A neatly carved turkey definitely adds to the presentation and will impress your guests.

However, if the very thought of doing this in front of onlookers fills you with dread and horror, return the bird to the kitchen for carving.

Then simply re-appear with the turkey pieces elegantly arranged on a serving tray. No one will see the mess in the kitchen and if you haven't done things perfectly, no one will know the difference.

Helpful Hints and Recipes

» » How to Carve a Turkey

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