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Top shot of a whole, cooked turkey on a cutting board and someone is removing the leg as they begin to carve the turkey.

How to Carve a Turkey

  • Author: Erin Jensen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x
  • Category: How-To
  • Method: Counter Top
  • Cuisine: American


How to Carve a Turkey – an easy, step-by-step tutorial that teaches you how to carve your holiday or thanksgiving turkey!


  • 1 whole turkey, fully cooked
  • cutting board
  • sharp chef’s knife or carving knife


  1. Rest: Ensure turkey has rested 30 minutes after cooking (this allows the juices to redistribute).
  2. Prep Turkey + Carving Station: Place turkey on a large cutting board (breast side up) and ensure you have a sharp chef’s knife or carving knife. Remove any hock or kitchen twine and ensure the legs are point towards you.  Having paper towels and a serving platter on hand will be helpful through the process.
  3. Remove Leg: make a cut through skin right where the breast and leg meet. Continue cutting through the meat until your knife connects with bone. Set your knife down and use your hands (feel free to use a paper towel) to bend the leg back until the joint pops out. Then use your knife again to cut through the joint until it fully separates. Set aside on the platter.
  4. Remove Breast: The breast bone runs down the middle of the turkey. Position your knife just next to the breast bone (staying on the same side as your previous cut) and make a cut from one end of the turkey to the other. Continue cutting down removing as much meat as possible. Disconnect the breast meat from the turkey and set aside on the platter. 
  5. Remove Wing: similar to the leg, use your hands to pull back the wing until the joint pops then use your knife to cut through separating the wing from the turkey. Set aside on the platter.
  6. Repeat on other side: repeat these steps on the other side of the turkey removing the other leg, breast and wing. 
  7. Separate leg from thigh: take the whole turkey leg and make an initial cut where the joint bends. Then use your hands to pop open the joint. Use your knife to make a final cut through the joint separating the thigh from the drumstick. 
  8. Slice and Serve: feel free to take the thigh and/or breast and cut into slices before serving. 


Keywords: how to carve a turkey