Carving a turkey has never been so easy. Here's how to nail the final frontier before you dig in.

By Betty Gold
Updated July 01, 2021
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You've bought it, stuffed it, cooked it to the perfect temperature, and now you have to carve your Thanksgiving turkey. If you're daunted by the task―some of the best cooks are―just remember that carving a turkey comes down to simple technique.

Watch the easy directions in our video, or follow along with the step-by-step photos of how to carve a turkey below.

What You'll Need:

  • Carving board
  • Chef's knife (or slicing knife)
  • Paper towels
  • Platter
  • Long, flexible knife (or boning knife)
  • Tongs

How to Carve a Turkey:

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Remove string from turkey

1 Remove the String

Place the turkey on a carving board. Remove the string tying the legs together using the tip of your chef's knife.

Remove legs and thighs on a turkey

2 Remove the Legs and Thighs

Cut through the skin that connects the breast and the drumstick. Slice down until you reach the joint. Using a paper towel, grab the leg and push down, separating the leg and thigh from the bird. Use your chef's knife to slice through the joint. Repeat steps with the other leg.

Remove Turkey Wing

3 Remove the Wings

Using the chef's knife, slice through the joint to remove a wing, and transfer to the platter. Repeat step on the other side.

Cutting turkey breast

4 Remove Turkey Breasts

Find the breastbone. Position a long, flexible knife (or a boning knife) on one side of it, and slice downward, as close to the bone as possible. As you slice, use your other hand to pull the meat away from the breastbone, until you've cut the breast off the carcass in one piece. Transfer to the cutting board, and repeat on the other side.

Separate the turkey Drumstick and Thigh

5 Separate the Drumstick and Thigh

Separate the drumstick and the thigh by cutting through the joint that connects them. Transfer the drumstick to a platter; set aside the thigh meat on a cutting board to slice later. Repeat with the other leg.

Hand slicing turkey thigh meat

6 Slice the Thigh Meat

Work on the cutting board. Holding the thigh bone with tongs or a paper towel, remove the meat from the bone with the edge of the chef's knife. Transfer meat to platter.

Hand slicing turkey breast meat

7 Slice the Breast Meat

Using the tongs to steady the breast, position the meat so you'll cut it at its shorter length. Slice against the grain, taking care to keep the skin attached. Transfer pieces neatly to a platter.

Where Is the Wishbone on a Turkey?

You can find the wishbone at the front end of the breast. Use your fingers to pull it out. Why? Removing the wishbone makes it easier to carve off the breast meat.