How To Carve a Turkey and The Best Thanksgiving Tips

Posted on: January 17, 2023

So, you have cooked your Thanksgiving turkey using our Bradley Smoker, and the result is a mouthwatering golden-brown bird. You definitely want to carve it, but you are not sure how to do it like a pro.

Well, you have landed on the right page to guide you through the process. First of all, we want you to understand that it is an easy, step-by-step do-it-yourself procedure that you can comfortably accomplish in your kitchen.

What You Need:

Carving the Turkey

1. Place the turkey on the carving board

The ideal way to place the turkey on the board is to have it facing upwards. This will allow you to easily untie the trussing strings that have tied the legs together. You can also use the chef’s knife to cut off the string if preferred.

2. Cut to separate the leg and thigh from one side

Start with a single leg and use the chef’s knife to cut through the chunk of meat, aiming for the joints. You will also need to pull the leg gently while slicing through to separate it from the rest of the bird. You are likely to hear a pop sound, implying that the thigh bone has been successfully detached. Repeat this on the other leg observing the same procedure.

3. Set aside the drumstick from the thigh bone

Use the chef’s knife to cut through the joint to separate the drumstick from the thigh bone. Repeat the same step on the other leg.

4. Cut off the wings

Using the chef’s knife, cut the skin, meat, and joint to free the wings. We also recommend gently pulling the wing away from the rest of the bird for easy separation. Repeat the same procedure for the other wing and set it aside.

5. Remove the wishbone

The wishbone is located at the front end of the breast, near the neck cavity, and takes the shape of an inverted V. You can use your fingers to locate it, then cut out the skin from the opening to create an opening to the neck cavity. Remove the wishbone by cutting along it and pulling it out of the turkey. It’s important to remove the wishbone to allow you to easily carve the rest of the bird.

6. Take out the breast meat

First, you want to locate the breast bone or keel bone that separates the two breasts. Using the chef’s knife, cut down the middle on one side of the breast bone. Cut down through the curve of the breastbone that separates the bone and the breast meat, ensuring you free the whole breast.

7. Slice the turkey’s thigh

Slicing the meat in the right manner is very important for the overall quality and presentation of your Thanksgiving turkey. We consider it an essential step in the carving process. We recommend slicing the turkey against the grain. This refers to making the cuts in the opposite direction to how the muscle fibers naturally run. You can easily notice the natural direction of the fibers with a keen look. Cutting against the grain allows the meat to stay tender and tastier.

8. Slicing the turkey’s breast meat

Like the thigh, ensure to cut against the grain to retain the tenderness of the meat. We advise using a pair of tongs and paper towels to hold the bird firmly. Exercise care while cutting the skin to keep it attached to the rest of the meat.

9. Transfer all your well-carved turkey meat to the platter

Useful Tips

  • Before you start carving the turkey, ensure you allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes to let the juices reabsorb into the meat.
  • We recommend carving your turkey just before serving it, as it cools it significantly. You don’t want to serve your guests cold and dried-out meat.
  • Be careful with the skin. A crispy well-cooked skin should be carefully preserved for eating, and this starts by making the right cuts so that there is skin attached to each slice of the turkey.
  • Leftovers still count. Our advice is to save them as they can be used for homemade rolls or sandwiches later in the day or the following day.
  • You can use paper towels and a pair of tongs to firmly hold a steaming bird. You don’t want to burn your hands as the turkey might still be hot.

Get yourself ready for the holidays – learn how to make a smoked turkey on the Bradley Smoker. Chef Ted Reader teaches tips and tricks on how to smoke your turkey to perfection (with injected smoked butter!).

A Thanksgiving dinner will need more than a well-roasted turkey. Your guests will also be looking forward to the side dishes that you have paired with the bird. Roasted brussels sprouts, roasted root vegetables, and green beans are some of the top pairings you can choose.

For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.