How to Carve Your Turkey Like a Pro

November 26, 2014

You've finished cooking your turkey (good work with that perfectly golden skin!) and now you're ready to carve it—but you're not sure how to start. To make sure you don't slice off more than you can chew, heed this advice:

Roast Turkey Carving Roast Turkey

The Pros Propose

  • Steven Raichlen instructs: "Never carve or serve a turkey hot out of the oven. Let it rest, loosely tented with aluminum foil, for at least 20 minutes. (Lay a sheet of foil over the bird—don’t wrap it.) This 'relaxes' the meat and restores the juices."
  • Kristen Miglore gives us a pep talk: "Don't stress! You just have to dive in! Really get in there and feel around for joints and bones and pull things apart to see better." She also assures us that carving can be an anti-social activity. Carve alone in the kitchen and appear in front of your guests with a beautifully presented platter—they don't need to see how it got there.
  • Need a visual? Watch Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs carve a chicken—you'll be ready to tackle any-sized bird.

Roast Turkey Carving Roast Turkey

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Have a Carving Game Plan

  • Sfmiller separates the whole bird into manageable pieces with a flexible boning knife. If you hit bone, simply reposition; the wings and legs should come off first. The ball joint should come free without using your knife; if it doesn't, cut around the ball joint, not through, and pull until it comes free. 
  • When addressing the breast, meganvt01 removes it entirely and slices across in thick (1/2- to 3/4-inch) slices—she finds it dries out less. 
  • Pierino points out that cutting across the grain in this manner also ensures a little bit of crispy skin with each slice.

Tell us: What are your best carving tips? 

Have you missed any of our Thanksgiving roundup of Burning Questions? Catch up now:

Photos by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • John
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I like esoteric facts about vegetables and think ambling through a farmers market is a great way to start the day. My first cookbook, available now, is called Cooking with Scraps.


John December 1, 2015
This Turkey recipe is an absolutely winner.
Bob November 30, 2015
What a great picture. The turkey is made perfect. I want it right now.
AntoniaJames November 26, 2014
Best carving tip takes place before the bird goes into the oven or smoker. Remove the wishbone. Try it; you'll agree and tell all your friends about it. ;o)