Turkey Roasting & Carving 101

Carving a Turkey

There's more than one way to slice a bird. One way is referred to as the kitchen way. The other is more the "carving at the table" dining room show. See which one fits your style.

Both Methods

Before Carving

cutting chicken leg

  • After the turkey is removed from the oven, let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
  • This allows the flesh firm up so it's easier to slice and the slices stay together better.
  • Cover the bird with foil to keep it warm.
  • Use a sharp carving knife or an electric knife for slicing.
  • Place bird on a carving board.
  • Remove the stuffing.

Slice Off the Leg and Thigh

  • Grasp the tip of one drumstick with your fingers and pull the leg away from the body. Cut through the skin and meat between the drumstick-thigh piece and body as shown. This exposes the joint where the thighbone and backbone connect. With the tip of a knife, disjoint the thighbone from the backbone by cutting through the joint. Repeat on other side.

Separate the Thigh and Drumstick

  • Cut through the joint where the leg and thigh bones meet. Repeat on the other piece.

Cut the Drumstick into Slices

  • Hold the drumstick vertically by the tip with the large end down. Slice meat parallel to the bone and under some tendons, turning the leg to get even slices.

Slice the Thigh Meat

  • Cut slices parallel to the thigh bone. Repeat with the remaining drumstick and thigh.

Kitchen Style

This way differs from the table carving style only when it gets to how the breast is cut.

  • Kitchen style slices the breast off the bone whole, as you would for chicken.
  • The breast is then cut into slices by cutting across the grain the width of the breast.


The slices fit onto crowded plates more easily.

Since the meat is cut against the grain, the pieces tend to hold together better.

Theoretically, this results in more moist and tender meat.


Dining Room Style

This way differs from the kitchen carving style only when it gets to how the breast is cut.

cutting chicken

  • To carve the breast meat, make a deep horizontal cut into the breast above each wing. This cut will be the end point of the breast meat slices.
  • Remove the wings by cutting through the joint where the wing bone and backbone meet.
  • To continue carving the breast meat, beginning at the outer edge of one side of the breast, cut slices from the top of the breast down to the horizontal cut as shown. Make the slices thin and even. Final smaller slices can follow the curve of the breastbone. Repeat on the other side of the breast.


  • This method fits the classic concept of carving the roast bird at the dining room table.
  • This method requires less room to carve since the breast is left on the bone.

Continued on page 5:  FAQs