How to Debone a Turkey Breast Like a Pro: A Step-by-Step Guide

Deboning a turkey breast is a culinary skill that can save you money, time, and effort in the kitchen. By removing the bones yourself, you can avoid the higher cost of pre-boned breasts and have more control over the preparation process. Plus, it’s not as difficult as you might think!

This guide will walk you through the process of deboning a turkey breast step-by-step, using clear instructions and helpful visuals. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a kitchen novice you’ll be able to master this technique with a little practice. So grab your knife, a cutting board, and a whole turkey breast, and let’s get started!

Part 1: Preparing for the Deboning Process

1. Set Aside Time and Gather Supplies

First things first, make sure you have enough time to complete the deboning process without feeling rushed. For beginners, it’s best to allocate at least 10 minutes to the task. As you gain experience, you’ll become more efficient and the time required will decrease.

Next gather the following supplies:

  • A plastic cutting board: This will prevent cross-contamination and provide a stable surface for working.
  • A sharp, thin boning knife: This type of knife is ideal for maneuvering around bones and separating meat cleanly.
  • A whole turkey breast: Choose a fresh, high-quality turkey breast for the best results.
  • Hand sanitizer or soap and water: Ensure your hands are clean before handling the turkey to prevent the spread of bacteria.

2. Wash Your Hands Thoroughly

Before you begin, it’s crucial to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. This will help prevent the transfer of bacteria to the turkey, which can lead to foodborne illness. Remember to wash your hands again once you’ve finished deboning the turkey.

3. Skip Washing the Turkey Breast

Contrary to popular belief, washing raw poultry, including turkey breast, can actually increase the risk of food poisoning. This is because the water splashes around, spreading bacteria to your work surfaces, utensils, and even your clothes. Additionally, the bacteria can easily contaminate your hands.

Instead of washing the turkey simply pat it dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.

4. Keep Your Work Space Clean

To further minimize the risk of food poisoning, it’s important to maintain a clean work space. Place the turkey on a plastic cutting board that’s designated for meat preparation. Wipe up any spills immediately and wash your utensils and dishes promptly.

After you’ve finished deboning the turkey, thoroughly clean your work surface with an antibacterial soap or cleanser.

5. Consider Removing the Skin (Optional)

If you prefer to cook your turkey breast without the skin, you can remove it before deboning. Using a slicing knife and your fingers, carefully peel back the skin and discard it. While this step is optional, it can make the deboning process slightly easier.

Part 2: Removing the Keel Bone

1. Position the Turkey Breast

Place the turkey breast skin-side down on your clean cutting board. Make sure the pointed end is facing away from you and you have ample space to work around the board.

2. Make a Center Slice

Using your boning knife, make a deep cut down the center of the breast, all the way down to the bone. This may require several passes with the knife, gradually deepening each cut until you reach the bone.

3. Locate the Keel Bone

The keel bone is a dark, triangular bone situated in the center of the breast. It’s the first and most important bone to remove. You may need to bend the breast backward slightly to expose the keel bone more clearly.

4. Cut the Cartilage

Using your knife, carefully slice through the cartilage found just above the keel bone. This may also require several passes, gradually deepening each cut.

5. Remove the Keel Bone

Pick up the breast and bend it backward further. Try to “pop out” the keel bone a bit by applying pressure with your fingers. Then, using your hands and your knife, work to free the entire bone. Pull out the bone, along with the cartilage.

If the keel bone doesn’t pop out easily, slide your fingers underneath it on each side, working to break up any remaining cartilage. Once the cartilage is disconnected, the bone should come out cleanly.

Part 3: Removing Additional Bones

1. Locate the Long Bones

There are two long bones, one on each side of the breast, that run the length of the breast. Find these bones and use both hands to bend them backward, loosening them from the surrounding meat.

2. Remove the Long Bones

Use your knife to carefully work your way around the bones and cartilage of the long bones. Remove as much meat and cartilage as possible until the bone is free. Repeat this process on the opposite side.

3. Locate and Remove the Wishbone

The wishbone is a thin, V-shaped bone found right between the neck and the breast. By now, your wishbone should be loose enough to simply wiggle out. If needed, use your knife to free up any meat holding the wishbone in place, and then remove it.

4. Clean Up the Breasts

Remove the white tendon, as well as any loose connective tissue, from the turkey breast. If desired, you can cut the turkey breasts into two halves for easier storage and preparation. Using a sharp knife, slice down the center of the turkey breast longways.

5. Store Your Turkey

Wrap your raw turkey meat securely with plastic wrap, place it in a plastic bag, or seal it in another air-tight container. Your uncooked turkey will be safe in your refrigerator for 2-3 days. If you don’t plan to use it within that time, it’s best to place your air-tight container in the freezer, where it will last for several weeks. When you’re ready to use it, thaw your turkey in the fridge overnight.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully deboned a turkey breast. Now you can use your newfound skills to prepare a variety of delicious dishes, from roasted turkey breast to turkey kabobs. Remember to follow safe food handling practices and enjoy the satisfaction of creating your own deboned turkey breast.


  • Question How does one remove the bone from a turkey breast? Skilled Home Cook Vanna Tran began cooking at a very young age, learning from her mother. For more than five years, she has catered events and hosted pop-up dinners in the San Francisco Bay Area. Answer from Vanna Tran, Experienced Cook Expert: Always use a very sharp knife to cut meat as this will stop it from tearing and will allow the knife to pass through the breast cartilage. Holding a piece of paper, cut it vertically with the knife to test it. Your knife is sharp enough if you can cut through it easily and without tearing it!
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Things You’ll Need

  • Bone-in turkey breast
  • Plastic cutting board
  • Boning knife
  • Paper towels

How to Debone a Turkey Breast | Gimme that Recipe!

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