While it may seem challenging to some, it is actually a really simple task to carve turkey (or chicken). Today’s tutorial is all about how to do so properly, plus I have some printable directions for you!
Before You Get Started
- Rest your turkey. It’s best to let your turkey rest for about 45 minutes to an hour (yes, really!) when it’s fresh out of the oven. This ensures that most of the juices re-absorb back into the meat, which makes your meat moist and prevents juices from going all over the place while your carve.
- Gather your tools. Gather a set of turkey lifters (optional), a chef’s knife (make sure it is sharp!), a carving fork or tongs, a large cutting board or carving board, and a damp washcloth or paper towel (this is to place underneath the cutting board to keep it from sliding around).
- Prepare a carving station. While it is traditional to carve a turkey on the dining room table in front of everyone (and if that’s your thing, go for it), it really isn’t the most comfortable or safe place to do it. Rather, it is best to do it on the kitchen counter if possible. Place your damp washcloth or paper towel on the counter then set your large cutting board on top of it (this prevents the board from slipping). Then get carving!
How to Carve Turkey (or Chicken)
BEFORE CARVING: Be sure to remove any trussing (string that holds the turkey’s shape) or hock lock (a metal or nylon piece that holds the legs together) and the popup temperature indicator (aka Pop-up Timer) if there is one. Place the turkey breast-side up on a large cutting or carving board.
Let’s get carving! By the way, there is a printable version of these carving directions towards the bottom of this post.
- Cut partially through the joint where the leg meets the body then use your hand to pull it the rest of the way off.
- Cut the joint between the drumstick and the thigh to separate the two pieces. Serve as-is or portion the meat off.
- Holding the knife horizontally, cut into the turkey’s body at the bottom of the breast.
- Holding the knife vertically, cut just next to the breastbone and downward until you’re met with resistance.
- Remove the breast and cut it into thick slices.
- Cut off the wings at the joint that meets the body.
Repeat steps 1-6 with the other half of the bird.
More Helpful Stuff
If you’d like to print out these instructions, you can! Click on the “download” button below. The instructions save in a PDF format, so you will need a PDF reader (such as Adobe which is free) on your device to open it.