How to Carve a Turkey (Easiest Method)

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Carving the turkey for Thanksgiving, the holidays, or any major family gathering may be a scary experience if you’ve never done it before.

Even if you’re an experienced chef, those eager faces and the feeling of occasion are enough to make anybody uneasy!

Don’t be alarmed. We’ve put together this complete guide on cutting a turkey to help you get the job done right.

We break down the technique into easy-to-follow phases and provide you lots of valuable tips and tricks for slicing up that bird, making it suitable for both total novices and seasoned carvers.

What you’ll need

There are a few essentials that will make carving your turkey much easier:

  • While you may spend a lot of money on substandard carving tools, our Smoke Kitchen 12 Slicing Knife is exceptionally sharp, well-balanced, and multifunctional.
  • A big chopping board or butcher block, preferably with a juice groove. Once again, there are various lovely versions available, some with specific juice wells and spaces to keep the bird steady, such as this one. If you want something more economical, this cutting board is a fantastic choice.
  • Paper cutting a turkey can be messy, so have something handy to mop up any liquids and wipe off your knife and hands as required.Towel for the kitchen
  • Transfer the cut meat to a serving tray and serve at the table.
  • Tongs are not required, however they may assist you move the cut meat to the dish and balance the bird during carving.carving forkSpatula

How to carve a turkey

So, now that you’ve got everything set up and ready to go, let’s get started!

If this is your first time carving and you’re anxious, don’t be. We’ll walk you through the simplest, most convenient method to cut your turkey.

1. Set up your turkey carving station

Before you begin carving your turkey, make sure your carving station is ready with everything you need, as described above. You’ll need a solid surface, clear of clutter and other dishes, and enough of elbow space.

While it may be tempting to start carving as soon as possible, you should wait until just before serving to ensure that your turkey remains warm and well-rested.

Make sure you have a heated serving tray on available. Ideally, you should move your meat immediately after slicing each component.

2. Removing the turkey legs

Place the cooked and rested turkey in the middle of your cutting board, cavity facing you.

We’re going to begin our carving by eliminating the legs. This exposes the breasts and prepares the thighs and drumsticks for slicing.

Heres how:

  1. Cut the skin between the breast and the leg using the point of your carving knife.
  2. Pull back slightly with your free hand after you’ve sliced through the skin to reveal the joint that links the legs to the torso.
  3. Take your knife and run it around the exposed joint, cutting through it and any flesh to totally separate the leg.
  4. Place the turkey leg to one side and repeat with the second leg.

You could prepare your legs now, but since you’re doing so well with this bird, we say go for it and get everything removed before slicing.

3. Removing the breast meat 

Let’s move on to the breast flesh now that the legs are out of the way.

Some people prefer to remove the wings first, which is just OK. Leaving the wings on, on the other hand, provides added support while removing the breast flesh, particularly on the second side.

As a result, we suggest saving the wings until last.

  1. To begin, run the point of your knife along the keel bone, which is the black bone in the center of the breast.
  2. Cut further and deeper, feeling your way around the ribs, using long sweeping, delicate incisions and using your hand to gently pull away the breast.
  3. Remove any adhering skin and lay the breast on one side of the turkey before finishing the other side.

Some people like to slice the breast while it is still intact, but this method makes getting that lovely crispy skin on each piece difficult.

4. Removing the turkey wings

Now for our last carving step, let’s get those delectable wings off before we start slicing.

  1. With the breast flesh gone, the wings are completely exposed, and the connecting joint is easily found.
  2. Simply pull on the wing to release it and slice through the joint and any flesh to remove the wings.

5. Slice up the breast meat

Each breast should be sliced separately. Cut through the breast flesh across the grain for the greatest texture and flavor.

  1. Slice equally into quarter-inch thick slices, keeping a little angle in mind.
  2. It’s all too easy to nick your flesh with your fingertips, particularly if you don’t use a carving knife very regularly.
  3. Try to maintain the skin intact on each slice of the breast when slicing it. This may be difficult, but it’s worth a go. Holding the slice near to the unsliced area as you cut down and through may assist in keeping it in place.

Push the slices together to reconstitute the entire, breast, slide your knife or a spatula beneath, and place to your preheated dish. This is a simple presentation trick that will also assist to keep your meat warm.

6. How to slice leg meat – drumsticks and turkey thighs (optional)

I normally leave the drumsticks and thighs intact since some people want to eat the whole piece. If you’re cooking for a large group of people or a huge bird, you may not have a choice.

  1. Separate the drumsticks from the thighs by finding and slicing through the connecting joint with your finger.
  2. Serve your drumsticks whole or upright, with the flesh sliced off in downward slices.
  3. Slice the meat along either side of the bone to serve your thighs. Once the meat has been deboned, transfer it to a dish.

7. Preparing the wings

While the wings are really divided into three halves, you’ll only need the first two for your table.

  1. Run your knife down the separation and straight into the joint with a wing. Cut the tips off at the second joint.
  2. Place the first two meaty wing parts on a serving dish and save the tips for stock preparation.

Turkey presentation

And voila, your nicely cut turkey is ready to serve!

Arrange your sliced turkey meat on the most beautiful serving dish or board you have.

This is where you can get creative with your garnishes. Fresh plants look lovely, and fruit may provide some much-needed color contrast.

Turkey carving tips

Our easy step-by-step instructions above will guarantee you have a beautifully sliced turkey with no effort. However, if you are a bit of a perfectionist or would want to learn a few more turkey cutting skills, read on.

What temperature is turkey cooked at?

When your turkey reaches 165 degrees on the breast part, it is done and may be withdrawn from the heat (a probe thermometer can be used to verify this).

If you want to rest your turkey, you may remove it at 160°F since it will continue to cook.

whether you’re wondering whether you can slice your turkey cold, the answer is yes. However, reheating might dry up your meat if you leave it in the oven for too long after it has been cut.

How long should a turkey rest before carving?

Most cookbooks and recipes suggest resting your turkey for 30 to 45 minutes before carving.

The fundamental rationale is that resting your turkey after cooking guarantees that all of those sizzling hot cooking fluids redistribute into the flesh rather than gushing out at the initial incision.

Resting, it turns out, does not truly redistribute the liquids and is more likely to make the skin soggy. Especially if the turkey is wrapped in aluminum foil.

You are free to begin carving as soon as the turkey is done.

Enjoy your perfectly carved turkey

That concludes our step-by-step approach to stress-free turkey cutting! Simply remove the legs, breasts, and wings before cutting and serving.

Remember that the secret to a delicious, moist turkey is to let it to rest before carving.

Now that you’ve learned all there is to know about cutting a turkey, it’s time to put your words into action and start carving!


Is it easier to carve a turkey hot or cold?

Allow the bird to rest.

If you begin cutting too soon, the bird’s fluids will spill all over the place and your turkey will dry up. Allowing the turkey to rest and cool will also lessen the likelihood of scalding yourself with delicious but scorching hot turkey juice.

How long should a turkey sit before carving?

Allow your cooked turkey to rest for around 20 minutes before carving. Slice straight down with an equal stroke starting halfway up the breast.

Do you need a special knife to carve a turkey?

“You definitely need a boning and slicing knife,” Santoro suggests. “The boning knife is used to remove the meat from the carcass.” It’s tiny, flexible, and pointed, making it ideal for working around bones. The slicer should be between 9 and 11 inches long and razor-sharp.

How do you keep turkey moist after carving?

How could a turkey that had been cooked the day before still be juicy and tender? The secret to keeping the turkey moist and soft was to fill the bottom 14 inch of the pan with chicken stock and then securely wrap the whole pan with aluminum foil.

Do you have to let a turkey sit before carving it?

Resting a turkey (or a steak, or a leg of lamb, or even a huge fish) is essential for optimal taste and juiciness. Keep in mind that the turkey will continue to cook throughout the resting time, and the internal temperature will climb by 5 to 10 degrees.

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