Turkey Questions

How to Carve a Turkey

Let the turkey rest before carving.
Let the turkey rest before carving.
©Matthew Moore

Carving a turkey involves more than a sharp knife and large serving fork. Unless you plan on eating the entire bird yourself, you might want to brush up on your everyday knowledge of turkey-carving know-how. Check out these tips on how to carve perfect portions and scrumptious slices of turkey.

  • The Turkey Needs to Rest: Let the turkey rest at least 20 minutes before carving to help the turkey retain moisture and make the meat firmer and easier to slice.
  • Carve in the Kitchen: Do the carving in the kitchen, using a long sharp knife or an electric knife. Use a carving fork or other large fork (at least 8 in. long) to help steady the turkey while you carve. And keep a warm serving platter nearby so you can transfer and arrange the meat as you carve.
  • Legs First: Remove the legs first by pulling them away from the body and cutting through the joints that hold the thighs to the body. One cut through the joint will separate the leg from the thigh, then carve those pieces individually, making slices parallel to the bones. Watch out for the hard tendons in the drumsticks.
  • Wings or Breast Next: Some people prefer to remove the wings next, or you can wait until after you carve the breast. Simply pull the wings from the shoulder joints, and if necessary, cut through the joints with a knife to separate them from the body. The wings can go on the serving platter whole.
  • Carving White Meat: To carve the white meat, hold the breast firmly with your fork and cut a small slice parallel to the breastbone. Start with the most rounded area of the breast, about halfway down, and continue slicing diagonally through the meat as you work your way closer to the bones.
  • Slice and Repeat: Try to cut medium-thin, even slices, but as you get closer to the bones, there will be some irregular shapes and sizes. Once you finish one side of the breast, repeat the process on the other side.

Once you've carved your turkey to the bone, you can snag the wishbone and toss the carcass, or save the bones to make a turkey soup.

Tired of traditional turkey recipes? Get inspired for new spins on turkey with these sites: