The last thing you'd want to do is ruin the effect by carving your turkey the wrong. Fortunately, carving a whole roasted turkey is easier than you may think. You'll need the right tools and setup to perfectly carve your turkey – a sharp knife and stationary workstation are key, and you'll be well on your way to being able to plate and present a gorgeous roast turkey. Ready to learn how to carve a turkey? Let's get started!

What You Need When Carving a Turkey

As we touched on a moment ago, you'll need a few tools to carve your turkey. Nothing is more important than a sharp knife when it comes to carving a turkey. For best results and to make the job easier on yourself, sharpen your knife before cutting into the meat. You'll also need a stationary work area – you want to keep the turkey still while you're slicing it. This will give you the best cuts.

Letting the Turkey Rest Before Carving

Allowing the turkey to rest before carving it is essential. Why? Because when the turkey rests after coming out of the oven, the juices redistribute throughout the bird, which will ensure your turkey is beautifully moist and tender. Cutting the turkey too soon will cause the meat to be dry. How long should you let your turkey rest? Once your turkey is out of the oven, let it rest for at least 30 minutes up to 90 minutes.

baked turkey

How to Carve a Turkey Step-by-Step

The first step to perfectly carving a turkey is to slice off the legs and thighs. Cut through the skin in the area where the leg joins the breast. Pull the leg back and spread it flat and pop out the joint. Next, slice around the joint and remove the leg and thigh from the bird. Perform the same technique on the other side of the turkey, then set the legs and thighs off to the side.

Now it's time to cut off the turkey breast. Cut along either side of the breast bone. As your knife reaches the cutting board, pull the breast meat away from the bone until it's free from the rest of the turkey. Repeat on the second breast, then set both aside.

Pull the wings away from the turkey and firmly cut through the joint.

At this point, all the meat will be off the turkey. As the last few steps, cut the thighs and the legs to separate them. Slice through the breast meat, making sure to cut against the grain. This will help keep the turkey meat ultra-tender.

How to Plate a Carved Turkey

After successfully carving up your turkey, it's time to plate it. Place the meat on a platter however you like, although we'd recommend placing especially beautiful golden pieces like the legs and breasts in the center, and garnish it to make it more eye-catching and wow your guests. Great garnishes you can use include fresh herbs, sliced fruit like lemons, apples, oranges, or plums, bunches of cranberries or grapes, or toasted nuts. Feel free to get creative!

Serve Carved Turkey the Right Way

Make sure to serve your turkey immediately once it's been carved because once the turkey meat has been removed from the body, it'll start to get cold. Serve it with a variety of side dishes like turkey gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, roasted veggies, and any other classic Thanksgiving dishes you'd like to have on your dinner table.