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How to Carve a Turkey Like a Pro

Carved Turkey on Platter

The following information, video and photography were provided by our partner, Chef Billy Parisi.

The holidays are around the corner, which means its time to get our hands dirty in the kitchen!

With Thanksgiving first on the calendar, I am constantly asked for the best method for carving a whole roasted turkey. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite easy, and I’m going to show you how!

Whether or not you’re in charge of preparing this year’s bird, check out these tips. You might just need them in the future!

How to Carve a Turkey Like a Pro

Getting Started

  • Rest the turkey on a large cutting board for 5-10 minutes before carving. Never carve a turkey on a serving platter.
  • Gather your tools. To properly carve a turkey, you will need a boning knife, a slicing knife, tongs and a towel.
  • If you’ve trussed your turkey (wrapped the turkey neatly in twine and tied the legs together), remove the butchers twine with a knife or kitchen scissors.

Carving

  • Start by separating the thigh from the body by cutting in between the breast and the drumstick. Using both hands, pull the drumstick away from the bone and pop the joint. Cut in between the bones (not through the bones) to completely separate the thigh from the body. Repeat this process on the other side of the turkey.
  • Separate the drum from the thigh by slicing in-between and downward. Once sliced, pull back with both hands to expose the joint, then cut in between. Serve the drum as is.
  • To carve the thigh meat, simply run your knife down along the vertical bone. Cut around it separate the meat. Leave the skin on and slice the thigh meat into pieces.
  • To slice the breast, slice down on either the left or right side of the turkey sternum. Once you reach the rib cage, turn the knife slightly to carve around it. Slice all the way down until you reach the joint and remove the breast from the wing. Repeat this process on the other side of the turkey, then, leaving the skin on the breast, slice the meat on a bias for serving.
  • To separate the wings from the body, cut in between the joint. To separate the mini drum from the wing, simply slice down in between the skin and expose it by pulling it apart with your hands.

Serving

  • To plate, serve the drumsticks, wings and thighs together on one side of the serving platter and the breast meat on the opposite side to help guests differentiate between light and dark meat.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs.
Carved Turkey on Platter
Chef Billy Parisi headshot
By Chef Billy Parisi
Chef Billy Parisi is a culinary school grad who spent 15 years in the restaurant industry as a line cook, sous chef and executive chef. Now he develops, photographs and films simple and delicious recipes that will make everyone feel like a chef in their own kitchen.

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