turkey on farm at sunset

How to Carve a Turkey

How do we take this bird apart?

We will need to know how to carve a turkey if we want to enjoy the bird we made using the tricks and techniques explained on this site.

There are several ways to carve turkey. Here we will explain how to carve a cooked turkey in the kitchen or at the table.

It really isn't as difficult as you might think. And here is our best tip on how to carve turkey: practice on chickens!

Chickens have the same structure as a turkey. And, you will probably make chicken much more often than turkey.

So whenever you serve a whole chicken, whether it's home cooked or a store-bought rotisserie chicken think about how you are cutting it. Notice the separation in the joints so you are not cutting the bone.

After you have paid attention to the anatomy of several chickens, you will be ready for carving turkey or any other bird.

Preparing to Carve the Turkey

Your turkey is fully cooked and has "rested" so that much of the juice is re-absorbed. Place the turkey on the cutting board on its back so that the breast is up, legs pointing to the right. Prepare to cut off the appendages so that it is easier to slice the breast meat.

But Wait! Before we look at how to carve a turkey we need to look at the bones that might want to get in the way.

Lets talk about bones.

We need to carve this piece of meat but there are bones in there. We don't want to cut the bones themselves, but we need to know where they are so we can cut between them.

In this diagram, the legs are to the right and the leg is lifted up the wing is pulled out and down.

Turkey Skeleton

Let's take it apart so we can define the pieces

bones defined

The neck and tail might come in a bag inside of the turkey, sort of like a Cracker Jack prize.

Okay enough anatomy let's get on with carving.

Remove the Legs and Wings


Cut vertically on each side of the body where the thigh attaches to the body. At this point, you are just cutting through the skin that attaches the entire leg (the thigh and the drumstick) to the body.
Remove Turkey Leg

Bend the entire leg (both joints) down to the cutting board with your hand or with the blunt edge of the knife. You will now be able to see the ball and socket that joins the leg to the body.

With the curved point of the knife sever the meat connecting the socket. You do not need to cut through the bone.


Remove Turkey Leg Step 2

Separate the drumstick from the thigh. The outside (skin side) of the leg is down so you can see the joint between the drumstick and thigh. Simply cut between the two bones.

Separate drumstick from thigh

Next remove the wings.

Again we are cutting at the socket. But the wing socket is further down and into the body than the leg socket. Your knife should be almost horizontal to the cutting board to reach and get into the joint.

Remove wing

Now that we have all of the appendages removed and the breast meat exposed, we have completed step one of how to carve a turkey and it is time to concentrate on removing the breast meat. There are two common methods to carve the breast meat.

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2: How to Carve a Turkey Breast.

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Copyright © 2009 - 2019 The Perfect Turkey
Copyright © 2009 - 2019 The Perfect Turkey
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