16/11/2016 9:23 PM IST | Updated 31/10/2018 12:50 AM IST

How To Carve A Turkey, With Step-By-Step Photos

You can do this, even if you have no idea what you're doing.

Cooking a beautiful turkey is easy. Learning how not to massacre it with your carving knife is a more difficult ordeal.

This Thanksgiving, Americans will cook and consume over 40 million turkeys, yet very few of them will be carved in a stress- and mess-free manner that doesn’t waste most of the precious meat on your carefully prepared bird.  

So we asked Jeffrey Elliot, co-author of The Complete Book of Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use Techniques and Care and author of The Complete Guide to Sushi and Sashimi to show us, step-by-step, the best way to carve a Thanksgiving turkey. Sharpen your knife and get to work.

Bon appetit!

  • 1
    Al MacDonald
    Place the turkey on the cutting board or a platter, breast side up, with the legs facing away from you. Steady it with the carving fork in your guide hand.
  • 2
    Al MacDonald
    Cut through the skin that connects one leg to the carcass, cutting as close to the leg as possible.
  • 3
    Al MacDonald
    Set down the knife and pull the leg away from the bird until the ball joint that connects it to the carcass pops out of the socket. (If the turkey is too hot to handle, use a clean, dry towel to protect your hands.)
  • 4
    Al MacDonald
    Cut straight through the joint with the knife. The leg will now pull easily away from the carcass.
  • 5
    Al MacDonald
    Lay the leg on the board, with the knee facing you, and feel for the joint connecting the drumstick bone and the thigh bone.
  • 6
    Al MacDonald
    Cut straight down along the bone, removing the meat in one piece.
  • 7
    Al MacDonald
    Rotate the drumstick and continue cutting straight down along the bone until all the meat is removed from the bone.
  • 8
    Al MacDonald
    Bias-cut the drumstick meat into serving-size pieces.
  • 9
    Al MacDonald
    Hold the knife blade parallel to the board and slip it underneath the bone. Cut along the length of the bone to free it from the meat. Pull the bone away from the meat.
  • 10
    Al MacDonald
    Flip the thigh so that it’s skin side up and bias-cut it into serving-size slices.
  • 11
    Al MacDonald
    Repeat previous steps with the other thigh.
  • 12
    Al MacDonald
    Work the tip of the knife between the ball joint of the wing and the socket.
  • 13
    Al MacDonald
    Cut all the way through the joint, through any meat and skin, and remove the wing from the carcass.
  • 14
    Al MacDonald
    Rotate the turkey so that the other wing is facing your guide hand. Repeat previous steps to remove it.
  • 15
    Al MacDonald
    Make a long, thin cut along the breastbone, in the center of the breast.
  • 16
    Al MacDonald
    Let the knife blade ride the rib cage straight down to the socket where the wing was attached.
  • 17
    Al MacDonald
    Cut along the bottom of the breast to remove that half completely.
  • 18
    Al MacDonald
    Lay the breast half on the cutting board, skin side up, and bias-cut it into serving-size slices.
  • 19
    Al MacDonald
    Steady the turkey carcass with the carving fork and repeat steps 15-18 with the other side of the breast.