How to Carve a Turkey

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

You've bought it, stuffed it, cooked it to perfection, 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 a simple technique.

RELATED: How Long to Cook a Turkey, in One Easy Chart

What You'll Need:

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

RELATED: How to Take a Turkey's Temperature

How to Carve a Turkey:

01 of 07

Remove the string

Hands removing string from turkey resting on a cutting board

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

02 of 07

Remove the legs and thighs

Hands slicing a turkey leg off with a knife

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.

03 of 07

Remove the wings

Hands removing a turkey wing with a knife

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

04 of 07

Remove turkey breasts

Cutting turkey breast off the cooked bird with a knife

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.

05 of 07

Separate the drumstick and thigh

Hands separating the turkey Drumstick and Thigh with a knife

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

06 of 07

Slice the thigh meat

Hand slicing turkey 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 the meat to the platter.

07 of 07

Slice the breast meat

Hand slicing turkey 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.

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