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Turkey Carving 101

Shop Wusthof Carving Set


Be the star of Thanksgiving by showing off your impressive turkey-carving skills. Start with a nice set of carving equipment, such as this set from Wusthof, and you're already on your way to a beautifully sliced bird. Follow our photo guide for Chef Austin's instructions on how to expertly carve a turkey, and prepare to hear applause (followed by enthusiastic eating). 


Turkey Carving Step 1

First, remove each of the breasts, one at a time. Here's how:
See the breastbone between the two breastsInsert your knife beside the top of that bone and into the cavity of the bird. Use your knife to cut along line 1 from the back of the bird to the front, ending at line 2. As you slice, stay as close to that breastbone as possible and you'll see the breast meat start to naturally separate from the bones. Next, slice toward the front of the breast along line 2 and around to the back of the bird, following line 3. Set the breast aside and repeat these steps with the other breast. 



Turkey Carving Step 2

Now to the legs and thighs. Bend one of the legs away from the turkey's body (4a) and the joint should start to pop out (4b). Cut through the joint and slice off the leg and thigh as one section (4c). Set aside and repeat these steps on the other side. 


Turkey Carving Step 3

Next, remove the wings with the same technique used to remove the legs: Pull a wing away from the turkey (5a). Slice through the joint (5b) and cut off the wing portion (5c). Set wing aside and repeat these steps on the other wing. There's usually only a small amount of meat on the wings, so feel free to serve the wing still on the bone. If the wings are a bit skimpy, save them for stock.

Turkey Carving Major Parts

Here are the main parts of your turkey: Wings, breasts, and legs with thighs. Let's see how to slice them for serving.



 Turkey Breast Carving

The breast (white meat) is the easiest. Cut long slices on the bias across the breast for perfect portions. 


Separating Turkey Leg and Thigh

Now to the legs (dark meat). Pull the leg away from the thigh and break apart at the joint. Now you have separate drumsticks and thighs.



Turkey Leg Carving

Grasp the small end of the drumstick with one hand and with the other, slice your knife down the sides of the bone to remove the meat. 


Turkey Thigh Carving

Place the thigh skin-side down. With your knife, follow the sides of the thigh bone (9) and cut down but not all the way through the meat. This will loosen the thigh bone so you can remove it by hand. After the bone is removed, slice the thigh meat. 

Carved Thanksgiving Turkey

Now that your turkey is sliced the way the experts do it, arrange the beautiful slices onto a festive platter. Give it a professional finish with a sprinkling of parsley as garnish - but don't be surprised if the presentation doesn't last long. Your friends and family are going to "ooh" and "aah" over your picture-perfect turkey, and then they're going to gobble it right up.


Wusthof Carving Set

Shop Wusthof Carving Set

A Wusthof carving set is a low-cost investment and will come in handy when carving turkeys to whole chickens. The set featured above is gorgeous stainless steel that has a dedicated magnetic wooden box to keep them safe and organized between special occasions. For more functionality, the Wusthof traditional slicer set has a sharper edge great for slicing through turkey as well as roast and more firm cuts of meat.

 Work Sharp Electric Knife Sharpener

Shop Work Sharp Knife Sharpeners

Keep all your knives razor sharp with Work Sharp Electric Kitchen Knife Sharpener. This is the only electric knife sharpener I trust in the kitchen to quickly and accurately sharpen my knives. The sharpening belts are replaceable and you can even change the grit of the belt from extra-coarse to fine for the perfect sharpening. 


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About Chef Austin

About the Author: 

Chef Austin Merath is Everything Kitchen's Culinary Wizard, Kitchen-Gadget Reviewer, and New-Product Tester. He studied under chefs in College of the Ozarks' Culinary Program. It's his job to make sure you choose the kitchen tools that are right for you by testing the best we have to offer. When not cooking, Austin is tinkering with computers or exploring the Ozarks with his wife Amy. Click here for his full bio.