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  1. How to Carve a Turkey
There is nothing as inviting as a home filled with the aroma of a turkey baking in the oven, whether it's for Thanksgiving or just for a big, special dinner. Most of us know how to enjoy eating the turkey, but few of us know how to carve the turkey carefully so as to leave more for the plate and less on the bones. It takes a bit of figuring out, but with the help of this article, you won't have to hope that someone else can take on the task. You'll be able to carve it yourself.



  • 1 roast turkey
  • 1 sharp knife. A boning or carving knife, which has a long, narrow blade or electric carving knife is best, but any very sharp knife will do.
  • 2 cutting boards
  • 1 fork and/or rubber gloves or silicone mitt (the turkey is hot!)
  • 1 platter (or 2), ready to receive carved pieces

Serves 12


  1. Place the turkey on a clean wooden board.
  2. Allow the turkey to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or longer after roasting. The juices will spread within the turkey, making the meat evenly moist. This also gives you time to prepare last-minute dishes. Tenting with foil will help keep the bird warm.
  3. Remove the wishbone.
  • Remove a little skin from the neck-end of the turkey's breast. This will enable you to see the actual turkey meat, so that you can remove the wishbone.
  • Poke into the cavity with your finger, feeling around for the wishbone. Cut around the V-shaped wishbone.

Grasp the wishbone carefully and remove it from the turkey. Try to avoid damaging the meat or breaking the wishbone.

• Allow it to dry for a few days, and then use it to make a wish. Two people hold the wishbone, one holding each end, and make a silent wish. They then pull the bone apart and whoever gets the longer piece will have their wish come true. In some traditions, the person who gets the shorter piece will be the first to marry.


Carve the legs

Cut along the turkey's hip joint with your knife, letting the leg slowly separate from the body of the turkey. Remove the leg completely from the joint once you view the separation. The joint should snap free. If not, it can easily be cut with your knife. Remove as much meat as you can by carving close to the body, especially near the turkey's back. Note the succulent orb of meat at the base of the back, called the oyster. Consume it as the cook's reward!

Cut the leg at its knee joint. An easy way to find the joint is by feeling with your finger. It should cut easily.  
  • Slice the thigh meat by holding it firmly to the cutting surface with a fork and cutting slices parallel to the bone. This task can be assigned to someone else to save time while you move on to carve other parts of the turkey
  • Repeat on the other leg.
  • Carve the breasts. This is what's often called the "kitchen" method, because the turkey is carved behind the scenes and then brought to the table in slices.
    See the Tips for the "traditional" method.
  • Cut into the bird alongside of its breastbone.
  • Angle the knife and cut the meat away from the carcass, cutting through the wing joint.
  • The breast should come easily away from the body.
  • Repeat for the other side.
  • Slice the breasts.
  • Cut off the wing tips from the breasts.
  • Slice the remaining meat against the grain.
  • Instead of cutting along the breastbone, some people prefer to make a deep, horizontal cut that's parallel and close to the wing (the base cut). Cut towards the ribs. Then, cut down (vertically) to make thin, individual slices that fall away from the turkey as the cut you're making meets the base cut. This is often referred to as the "traditional" method and makes for better presentation if you're carving at the table.
  • Don't throw away any of the bones. You can use them for a tasty turkey soup.
  • Carve only what you need. More can be cut later as people ask for seconds. Otherwise, the meat will keep better if it's uncut.



  • Wash your hands before carving or wear disposable food-handling gloves.
  • Always aim to cut through joints, not bones.




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