How to Butcher a Turkey

Butchering a turkey isn't a job for everyone, and is often best left to a professional. However, if you have the space and the equipment, don't be afraid to give it a try. A freshly-butchered turkey will be more tender, juicy and flavorful than anything you can buy in a store.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Rope
  • Goggles
  • Large pot
  • Poultry shears
  • Pliers
  • Propane torch or blow torch


    • 1

      To kill the turkey, hang it by its feet. Hold the head and beak with one hand as you cut the turkey's throat with the other hand. Cut from one side of the neck to the other, severing the jugular vein, trachea and carotid arteries as you pull the knife quickly across the neck.

    • 2

      Heat a large pan of water to 145 degrees. Let the turkey soak water for 45 seconds. Remove the bird from the water and let it cool. Then remove the feathers, leaving the small pinfeathers.

    • 3

      Singe the bird to remove the pin feathers. This can be done with a propane torch or blow torch, but be careful not to get the flame too hot. Run the flame quickly over the entire turkey, just enough to singe the pinfeathers. A few of the feathers at the tips of the wings may need to be removed with pliers.

    • 4

      Lay the bird breast up on a table and cut between the joints of the knees to remove the feet. Remove the skin flaps between the legs and around the anus, which will open up the body cavity. Cut out the gland under the anus. Be careful not to cut any organs.

    • 5

      Reach into the body cavity and remove the organs, including the liver, heart, gizzard, kidneys, esophagus and trachea. Keep the liver, heart and gizzard if you want to cook them, and discard the rest.

    • 6

      Wash all of the parts thoroughly before you cook them. If you aren't planning to cook the turkey immediately, package it and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to kill the turkey in a more humane manner, cut the head completely off. The turkey will die in seconds, but will not bleed as much.
  • When you kill the turkey, wear goggles to protect your eyes from the flapping wings.
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