Carving Turkey Article -
Add a Comment

How to Carve a Turkey, Step by Step

Take the mystery out of carving that bird.

1. First of all, don't feel required to carve tableside. Though a common tradition in many families, it's perfectly fine to carve the turkey in the kitchen and bring the arranged platter to the table. This especially holds true if you're a novice at carving.

The Tools

Use a carving knife or a chef's knife. The longer the knife, the better it will work, as a long, smooth slicing motion will make for better slices. We used a long carving knife with oval indentations along the blade to reduce friction.

Tip: Be sure to let the turkey rest for at least 25 minutes before slicing: this helps the juices redistribute through the meat, making for a better-tasting turkey. (It also makes it easier to carve.)

    2. Remove the drumsticks and thighs. Start by pulling a drumstick away from the bird and using the knife to disconnect the thigh bone from the body. Set it aside to carve later, and remove the second drumstick.

      3. Remove the wings in the same fashion to fully expose the breast for carving. The wings on modern, commercial birds contain very little meat, so they're often used mainly for presentation on the platter.

        4. To carve the bird, make sure it's lying on its back, breast-side up. Begin with a long horizontal cut at the base of the breast. You might be able to feel where the breast meat ends and the bone begins--cut as close to that area as you can.

          5. Begin slicing the breast from the top down, working at a slight angle to cut away from the carcass. The horizontal cut at the bottom provides a convenient stopping point, making it easy to finish each cut. Transfer slices to a warmed serving platter.

            6. To carve a drumstick, hold one end and slice off one side. Lay it flat on the cutting board and continue carving. Slice each side, turning the drumstick a quarter turn until you've removed all the meat.

              7. Place the thigh on the cutting board and begin slicing parallel to the thigh bone. Cut into even strips.

                8. Arrange the rest of the meat onto the warmed platter and serve.

                  Nov. 5, 2009 8:11 pm
                  Thank you for a wonderfully clear presentation on turkey carving, in both pictures and words! I have been carving the family turkey for Thanksgiving for 40 years and I learned some helpful techniques from your presentation. Happy Holidays!
                  Nov. 11, 2009 3:40 pm
                  I always let the turkey rest, but for some reason it just doesn't come out in clean slices. The meat always seems to fall apart on me. At times it's too dry and appears to crumble and at other times it seems really moist and just doesn't slice up right. At those times, I wish Mom were here. Her turkey was close to "picture perfect" on the platter (just like yours appears to be). Mine always seems to slice best after it's been in the fridge overnight... and that's when it's sandwich time. :s
                  Nov. 12, 2009 9:54 am
                  Tried adding the article following the instructions listed. A cool new feature. It tells me the link is broken or unavailable. Kinda frustrating since it is your link and I'm saving it to your site. Please advise.
                  Nov. 18, 2009 9:58 am
                  Hi Loren Ipsum - Thanks for the tip. I was getting very frustrated with the error message and thought I was doing something wrong. Thanks again!! Happy Holidays.
                  Nov. 19, 2009 3:00 pm
                  Helpful. I want to get as much turkey off the bone. Freeze any extras to make meals in the future.
                  Nov. 20, 2009 10:00 am
                  Good instructions up to how to carve the breast meat which I completely disagree with. . Follow Step 4 above and then slice down the breast bone and out over the ribs. A smaller, narrow blade knife works better than a long carving blade. . Remove the entire breast in one piece and slice ON THE BIAS into slices. Slicing the best cooked turkey with the grain will result in dry, tough meat. . Obviously, this method doesn't work real well for at the table carving although the breast sections can be cut loose in the kitchen and carved at the table. . Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. Frank
                  Nov. 22, 2009 3:06 pm
                  Turkey Carving made easy with your video! Presentation on the platter with the sliced turkey was much improved using your method of carving. Thanks...
                  Dec. 21, 2009 8:11 am
                  I carved my 1st turkey on thanksgiving.Now I see how its done.I took a whole different approach.It turned out well,but I like this method.
                  Nov. 17, 2010 7:53 am
                  I am with frankmiglisn on craving the breast.
                  Nov. 17, 2010 8:58 am
                  I found it easier to cut off entire breast, then slice is against the grain. Better meat texture that way.
                  Nov. 17, 2010 4:23 pm
                  Last year, we cut the turkey as we saw on a Food Network show, cut the entire breast meat away and slice against grain, it was absolutely the best turkey we ever tasted!
                  Nov. 19, 2010 11:27 am
                  Is seems I get this challenge when there is a turkey to crave at our family get togethers. I agree with frankmiglisn,s way of craving turkey. The thinner knife with the hollowed out blades will help alot.
                  Nov. 20, 2010 6:32 pm
                  Thanks, for this, I deff. needed some advice on cutting a turkey, I did it for the first time last year for hubby, son and I, and well, It wasnt perfect but very delicous. I am having a bigger crowed over this year so I want everything to look and smell as perfect as it can be.. thanks again
                  Dec. 21, 2010 11:45 pm
                  wouldn't it be more convenient to cut close to the center bone and cut the whole breast away from the body? Then you can slice it paralelle or the short side, slice down and you get many more slices that hold together. Do the other side and slice the breast across not the long side. That way every gets slices of the breast meat.
                  Feb. 10, 2011 1:39 pm
                  Very good information. Thank you
                  Nov. 16, 2011 11:52 am
                  Good directions. Simple and understandable. Thanks
                  Nov. 20, 2011 1:35 pm
                  Hint for carving the breast to display beautifully....remove entire breast from bird by cutting from middle top of breast all the way down till you feel the rib bones in one large piece and place on carving board. Carve across the breast in beautiful slices. Place on serving platter and proceed to carve dark meat and arrange.
                  Lee M 
                  Nov. 23, 2011 4:55 pm
                  Ok guys. I'm the wierdo, but very popular with the turkey crowd. I do not slice the turkey at all! I "pull" the turkey ( as in pulled pork). I do this with a quality set of spring loaded and formed salad tongs (not the ones made with heavy wire). I press one side of the tong into the meat, parallel with the grain, then clamp and pull. If the piece is too large (you'll get good at pulling the correct plate ready pieces), just split and pull apart for two smaller pieces. The beauty of this process is that you don't have to "present" nice even slices. Another advantage is that the pieces do not dry out while serving or even while on the the person's plate The dark meat is done the same way.. pulled off the bone and the splinter leg bones slipped out of the meat before serving. This can be done in a fraction of the time as slicing, and the pulled pieces can be laid parallel to each other as presentation. I put the dark meat on one end of the platter and the white on the other. Looks wonder
                  Nov. 23, 2011 11:30 pm
                  I was told to cut the wish bone out then the rest of the cutting is easy. This year I'll try this method Happy Thanksgiving
                  Nov. 24, 2011 12:52 am
                  With all that I've read , I now know that the way I've learned through the years ; is that the way I have been cooking my turkey is the best way to roast and present a fantastic thanksgiving dinner and anything left over becomes a favorete as long as it's different to my family....... Imagenation, right or "I don't like this" at that time , it don't matter.............. Know what I mean........ So here I go....
                  Nov. 24, 2011 12:57 am
                  Later Ya'll I'm a hero cause I did the the best I could. And At this time of night ,................ It taste great......How bout Ya'll?
                  Nov. 24, 2011 12:59 am
                  Happy Thanksgiving. I truly mean it...
                  Subscribe Today!

                  In Season

                  Not The Same Old Chicken
                  Not The Same Old Chicken

                  We have so many top-rated chicken recipes, you'll never run out of dinner ideas again.

                  Slow Cooker Time Savers
                  Slow Cooker Time Savers

                  Imagine dinner making itself in the slow cooker while you relax or do other things.

                  Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
                  Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

                  Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

                  Related Videos

                  How to Deep Fry a Turkey

                  See a fast method to get crispy turkey skin and juicy meat.

                  How to Roast a Turkey

                  See a simple beginner-friendly method for roasting a moist, beautiful turkey.

                  How to Prep and Roast Turkey

                  Watch a very simple method for prepping and roasting turkey.

                  Most Popular Blogs

                  Read our blog

                  Recently Viewed Recipes

                  You haven't looked at any recipes lately. Get clicking!
                  Quick Links: Recipe Box | Shopping List | More »
                  Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

                  Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States