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How to Carve a Turkey

You’ve successfully cooked a beautiful turkey that your guests will be drooling over. Now the challenge is carving it efficiently. Follow our simple step-by-step instructions. Remember to wait the recommended 15-20 minutes after the turkey has come out of the oven to carve. Not only will carving be easier but the meat will be juicier.

Traditional Method

This is the method for cutting at the table while eager plates are passed to you. While traditional and exciting to watch, this can be a bit difficult to cut if you have a large group. The Kitchen Method (below) would likely be a better method. Transfer the turkey and remove the string.

  1. Transfer the turkey from the roasting pan to a cutting board or presentation platter. (Tip: Use layers of paper towels or two clean kitchen towels to protect your hands from the heat.)

  2. Cut through the trussing or other binding on the legs with scissors.

  3. Remove the drumsticks first by placing the knife against the thigh and cutting down to expose the leg’s second joint. 

  4. Apply pressure at the joint with the knifepoint; twist the knife and cut through to sever the drumstick free. Repeat for the other drumstick.  

  5. Place the leg flat on a cutting board and cut through the joint to separate the drumstick and thigh. 

  6. Hold the thigh firmly with a fork and cut slices evenly and parallel to the bone. 

  7. If you want to carve the drumstick, tilt it slightly and slice downward toward the cutting board. (Be sure to carefully remove the hard tendons.)

  8. Moving on to the rest of the turkey, hold the turkey firmly on a cutting board with a fork. Place the knife parallel and as close to the wing as possible. Make a deep cut into the breast, cutting towards the ribs. This makes a base cut.

  9. Carve the breast by slicing downward, ending at the base cut. Keep the slices thin and even.

The Kitchen Method

This method is behind the scenes, if you aren’t cutting in front of your guests. This allows you to present a beautifully arranged platter of sliced meat, much easier for serving. 

  1. Hold the turkey firmly on the cutting board with a fork.

  2. Carve each breast lobe away from the rib cage by cutting along the keel bone and around the contour of the body next to the ribs. 

  3. Now you can lay the breast lobe flat on the cutting board and carve it into thin, even slices across the grain of the meat.  

(Tip: Be sure to cut all the meat from the bones before storing turkey leftovers.)

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Turkey Cooking Times

When selecting a turkey to serve to a group, estimate 1.5 pounds per person. For example, if you are serving a group of 10 people, choose a bird that is 15 to 20 pounds. If you choose a smaller bird that weighs less than 12 pounds, those birds have a smaller meat-to-bone ratio, so calculate two pounds per person.

Fresh or Thawed Turkey
Oven Temperature 325°F / 163°C

6 - 7 lbs 2 - 2½ hrs 2¼ - 2¾ hrs
7 - 10 lbs 2½ - 3 hrs 2¾ - 3½ hrs
10 - 18 lbs 3 - 3½ hrs 3¾ - 4½ hrs
18 - 22 lbs 3½ - 4 hrs 4½ - 5 hrs
22 - 24 lbs 4 - 4½ hrs 5 - 5½ hrs
24 - 30 lbs 4½ - 5 hrs 5½ - 6¼ hrs