How to Gut a Turkey


Removing the guts from a freshly killed turkey cools the body cavity and protects the meat. Gutting a turkey is typically done in the field where discarding the entrails is easy. Gutting the bird is done as part of the total field dressing process. You have the option to pluck, skin or scald the bird. Skinning the bird is the most efficient process and is ideal in the field. Plucking is labor intensive and scalding requires advanced preparations and equipment.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Disposable gloves
  • Bolt cutters
  • Place the turkey on a flat, level surface with the breasts facing the sky. A table or the tailgate of a truck works well and prevents the need for bending and stooping.

  • Pull several clumps of feathers off the breasts to expose the skin. Grab the exposed skin with both hands and pull in opposite directions to separate from the meat. Continue until the entire breast area is exposed.

  • Pull the thighs out of the skin until the skin catches at the upper end of the foot. Use the cutters to remove the entire foot. Repeat on the opposite leg.

  • Pull the skin off the back and work it up to the neck. Use the cutters to remove the neck and head. The skin will remove with the cut, leaving the whole bird with meat and guts intact.

  • Use the knife to make a cut at the bottom end of the breast bone. Make the cut just wide enough to fit your hand in the body cavity. Reach inside the cavity and pull all of the guts from the bird.

  • Reach inside the bird from the neck area and pull out the craw. Make small incisions where necessary to separate the craw from the body. Wash the bird in fresh water to prepare for the kitchen.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gloves to reduce contact with blood and guts. Turkey's rarely pose a risk for infectious disease but gloves do help sanitize the process.
  • Use caution while cutting with the sharp knife. Always cut away from your body to prevent injury.

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  • Photo Credit Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images
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