How to Carve a Turkey

Video Guide to Carving a Turkey

November 23, 2020

Get a quick refresher on how to carve the turkey before placing it on the table. This is the easiest and most efficient way to carve the big bird for your feast.

To keep it simple, we recommend carving the bird in the kitchen, not at the table. Remove all the meat from the turkey and then slice it for easier serving. You can always bring out the turkey for all to admire before you start carving.

Note: Before you carve, the turkey should “rest” for at least 30 minutes to help the meat reabsorb the juices. Carve right before you serve to keep the pieces warm.

Steps to Carving a Turkey


You’ll need a large, sharp chef’s knife or carving knife and a large fork.

Also, get a cutting board with a well around it to catch the juices or use a cutting board inside a metal tray as demonstrated in this video.


  1. Get set up: Remove the string. Place the turkey on a cutting board. Remove the string tying the legs together using the tip of your chef’s knife. Hold the turkey steady with your fork.
  2. The Drumstick: For beginners, we start with the drumstick which is easiest to find. Pull the drumstocks away from the body of the turkey. Locate the joint in the middle of each leg and cut between the joints. Repeat on opposite side.
  3. The Wing: Do the same with the wings. Pull the wings away from the body. Cut through the joint where the wing meets the breast and remove the wing. Repeat for the opposite side. 
  4. The Breast: Find the breast bone, the large bone that runs down the middle of the bird. Using a long knife, slice through the skin on the top of the turkey along the top breastbone, following the curve of the body. Place each breast on a cutting board and slice against the grain.
  5. The Thigh: To remove the thigh, slice through all of the meat connecting the thigh and body until you expose the joint. Cut through the joint (or just pop it out using force.  Some folks just serve the thighs whole. Some cut away the meat on each side of the bone.

Set the turkey carcass back in the roasting pan or set it directly into a pot if you plan on making stock. Clean the cutting board. 

If you’re preparing for Thanksgiving, we’ve gathered our best Thanksgiving sides and desserts here.

Reader Comments

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Forgot to get the 2 oysters underneath the Turkey

The turkey oyster is a meat cut from the back of turkeys that is formed like an oyster. The turkey oyster is cut from the back with a 1 cm deep lateral cut underneath the scapula and at a right angle along the spine. I recently saw this on America's Test Kitchens & Martha Stewart.

Thanksgiving dressing

awesome, thank you so much


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