How to Easily Carve a Turkey

You don't have to be a professional or even an experienced cook to carve a turkey. Just follow these simple steps.

So, you've brined and roasted, grilled, smoked, deep-fried or spatchcocked your turkey. Good for you. Now, it's time to carve it. To some, carving the turkey is the most intimidating part. But, if you follow these simple steps, carving the Thanksgiving bird is no biggie.

What You'll Need To Carve a Turkey

  • A sharp carving knife or chef's knife.
  • A meat fork
  • A cutting board. There are cutting boards designed for carving meat that feature juice grooves so all those juices don't end up on your countertop.

Before You Carve

Let the turkey rest after it comes out of the oven for at least 20 to 30 minutes (depending on its size) with a piece of foil tucked over the top. This gives the proteins time to relax and allows the juices to redistribute throughout the bird, resulting in succulent slices of meat.

While the turkey is resting, pour the juices from the roasting pan into a glass measuring cup or a small saucepan. Let the juices stand about 10 minutes so the fat will float on top where it can be easily removed. Pour some water or poultry stock into the roasting pan, and return to the oven, or bring to a simmer on the stove. Scrape up the browned bits from the pan, and use this liquid along with the reserved juices to make a gravy.

How to Carve a Turkey Step-by-Step

To really take the pressure off carving a turkey, do it in the privacy of your kitchen to reduce "helpful" comments from onlookers. Warm up a large serving platter to hold the carved turkey meat. Arrange the turkey, breast side up, on a cutting board. Steady the turkey with a carving fork.

1. Remove the legs

using carving knife and fork to remove turkey leg

Working on one side of the turkey at a time, locate the joint attaching the leg to the breast. Using a large, sharp knife as an aid, press the thigh outward to find the hip joint. Slice down through the joint and remove the leg. Repeat with the other leg.

2. Remove the breast meat

removing breast from turkey using carving knife and fork

Find the breast bone that runs right down the center of the bird and make a long slice right along one side of the bone. Angle your knife and keep slicing right along the rib cage to free the breast meat. Repeat on the other side.

3. Remove the wings

removing wing from turkey with carving knife and fork

Find the joint where the wing attaches to the breast and cut through it to detach the wing. Repeat on the other side.

Once the meat is removed from the turkey, you can start slicing it into smaller, easy-to-serve pieces.

4. Slice the turkey breasts

turkey breast sliced on cutting board

Go against the grain to cut into thick or thin slices (your choice).

5. Separate the drumstick from the thigh and slice

carving a chicken thigh on a cutting board

Separate the drumstick from the thigh by finding the joint and cutting through it. Set the drumstick aside and slice the meat from the the thighs.

6. Arrange on a serving platter

carved turkey on platter with sage and kumquats

Arrange the carved meat on the warmed platter as you go so you don't crowd your cutting board. You can surround your plated turkey with garnishes like kumquats and fresh sage. Serve immediately or store in a warm oven until you're ready to serve.

If it doesn't look perfect, don't stress. It will soon be smothered in gravy, and eventually end up being used as an ingredient in other delicious recipes.

Related Content:

Was this page helpful?
You’ll Also Love