How to Carve a Turkey


Even a moist roast turkey can seem a little chewy and unappetizing after a botched carving job. To serve tender, neat portions of turkey, it’s important to detach each section at the joint and then slice against the grain. This process is easiest when you carve each section in a certain order, using both a carving knife and your hands to separate the pieces. For better leverage, set up a kitchen counter with cutting boards rather than carving at the dinner table.

How to Carve a Turkey
(Scott Miller/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • 2 large cutting boards
  • Long, sharp knife with pointed tip
  • Carving fork or large fork
  • Kitchen towel
  • Large platter
Step 1

Place the turkey on a large cutting board with the breast side up. Have a second cutting board standing by to slice individual sections of the turkey.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 2

Slice straight down between the leg and the body of the turkey with a long, sharp knife, using a carving fork to keep the turkey steady.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 3

Pull the leg and thigh section away from the turkey until you feel the joint pop. Use a kitchen towel to protect your hands if the turkey is too hot.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 4

Cut down through the joint that connects the thigh to the carcass. Remove the other leg-thigh section in the same manner as the first.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 5

Separate the leg from the thigh by cutting down through the joint between them. You can use the tip of knife to probe for the joint if you are not sure where it is.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 6

Slice the thigh meat by cutting parallel to the bone and arrange the slices on a platter. If you are serving the skin, you may find it easier to slice the skin separately and serve it on top of the sliced thigh meat.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 7

Stand the leg up vertically on the cutting board and slice downward along the bone to remove the leg meat. Transfer the slices to the platter. Alternatively, you can serve the drumsticks intact.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 8

Slice down between the wing and the breast. Pull the wing away from the body to expose the joint.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 9

Remove the wing by cutting through the joint that connects the wing to the breast. Remove the other wing in the same manner and place both wings on the serving platter.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 10

Remove the breasts by slicing down along each side of the center breastbone until you hit the rib cage. Use your hands to peel the breasts away from the rib cage, and then run your knife along the bone to remove the breasts from the carcass.

Scott Miller/Demand Media
Step 11

Slice the breasts crosswise to cut against the grain. Arrange the slices on the platter with the other pieces.

Scott Miller/Demand Media

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