How to Carve a Turkey in 6 Easy to Follow Steps

The way you carve a turkey can make a difference in the flavor and texture. Plus, it’s a fairly big piece of meat to tackle, especially if you’re the kind of person who usually buys the boneless skinless breasts at the store (Guilty!). Need to know how to carve a turkey? Here are 6 steps to make it as easy as (pumpkin) pie.

Never carved a turkey before? Or never seem to get it right? Follow these 6 easy steps to carve your turkey this Thanksgiving!

Carving a turkey step #1

Start by letting the turkey sit after you take it out of the oven.  If you carve it right away, the juices will run out and you’ll end up with dry meat.  Depending on the size of your turkey, you’ll want to let it sit for 20-30 minutes.  After that, you can transfer it to a cutting board.


Carving a turkey step #2

Separate the legs and thighs from the breast.  Make a cut between the leg and the body to give yourself a starting point. With one hand on the body, slowly pull the leg upward and outward until you hear a pop.  At this point, the joint will be exposed, and then you just carve around that to remove the leg and thigh.  Do the exact same thing on the other side.  Note:  One side is usually easier than the other for some reason.


Carving a turkey step #3

If you have drumstick lovers at your table, you’ll want to separate the drumstick from the thigh for them.  Do this by holding the drumstick on its end and cutting between the drumstick and thigh bone.


Carving a turkey step #4

If you plan to serve thigh meat, gently scrape the meat from the bone.  Many people don’t like the thigh meat because it’s a little greasy, but it makes a great soup starter, so you may want to do this anyway to save time later if you plan on making soup with leftovers.


Carving a turkey step #5

Next, separate the wings from the body.  You use almost the same process as you did with the legs, except that the wings are a little more attached so you may have to make a few extra small cuts here and there to get them apart all the way.  Wings make great meat, and are also great for soup or casseroles, so be sure to save them.


Carving a turkey step #6

Finally, carve most people’s favorite part of the turkey – the breast.  The easiest way to do this is to carve the entire breast at once and then slice it afterwards.  You find the breastbone of the turkey (in the middle), and use it as a guide for your knife.  Cut straight down along the bone and pull away the breast as you go.  Once the breast is removed, slice it against the grain for serving.  Repeat on the other side.


That’s all there is to it.  Like anything else, carving a turkey gets easier with practice.  It’s not really that hard – just a little bit intimidating the first time.  After you’ve done it once you’ll wonder why you worried about it in the first place.