How to Debone a Turkey: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Hunter Chef Cookbook, which celebrates the abundance of natural resources, includes more than 100 recipes, butchery tutorials, and beautiful food and landscape photography. The book has recipes for preparing a variety of large game, such as wild boar, white-tailed deer, and bison. The wild turkey, duck, wild goose, ruffed grouse, rabbit, and squirrel are typical small game characteristics. Recipes for both fresh and saltwater fish include pickerel, rainbow trout, wild salmon, prawns, scallops, and more. As an experienced forager, Hunter provides a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory, that use wild ingredients such as berries, sumac, and mushrooms.

The process of killing a wild turkey is similar to that of a chicken or duck, although it is slightly bigger. You can practice on chickens using the same method. It is more flavorful to pluck the entire bird and cook it with the skin on because it keeps the meat from drying out. The legs have a lot of meat, and they can yield several worthwhile meals with a little extra attention.

1. Once the turkey has been shot, begin removing the feathers from its breast region. While the bird is still warm, the feathers will fall out much more easily. Make a shallow incision across the entire stomach, pulling up on the skin beneath the breasts and cutting upward, taking care not to sever the intestines. Using your hand, pull out all the innards. Keep the heart, liver, and gizzard and discard the rest.

2. Remove the bottom leg just below the drumstick. Make a 360-degree cut around the knee joint with a boning knife. With your hands, split the sinew and split the joint in half.

3. Position the bird with the breasts up. To locate the breastbone that runs down the center of the breast meat, feel its middle. Make a cut down one side of the breast meat, hugging the bone with the blade.

4. Holding the blade close to the bones, keep slicing along the ribs. To extract the breast meat from the body, pull it back and make a cut beneath it while holding onto the ribs. By separating the thigh from the body and chopping down the bird’s cavity, you can remove the legs. To pop it out, just pull back on the ball joint. To remove the leg, keep slicing the meat along the bird’s back.

6. Cut the legs from the breasts. Cut the skin holding the legs and breast together.

The Hunter Chef’s newest cookbook includes recipes for cooking wild game, including turkey!

Check out GameKeeper Butchery if you need wild game meat for a recipe you’ve been meaning to try. The goal of GameKeeper Butchery is to source the best variety and caliber of specialty meats from both domestic and international sources. Our goal is to provide the healthiest, freshest, and safest products possible.

Deboning a turkey may seem daunting but with the right instructions and a bit of patience it’s a manageable task that can yield delicious results. This guide will walk you through the process, step-by-step, so you can confidently tackle this culinary challenge.

Why Debone a Turkey?

Deboning offers several advantages:

  • Faster Cooking: Without bones, the turkey cooks more evenly and quickly, resulting in juicy and tender meat.
  • Easier Carving: Forget struggling with a bone-in bird. A deboned turkey slices like a dream, making carving a breeze.
  • Beautiful Presentation: The boneless turkey boasts a clean and elegant presentation, perfect for impressing your guests.

Tools and Preparation:

Before you begin, gather the necessary tools:

  • Boning knife: A thin, flexible blade is ideal for separating the meat from the bones.
  • Cutting board: Choose a large, sturdy board to provide a stable work surface.
  • Kitchen towels: These will come in handy for gripping slippery poultry skin.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Start with a chilled turkey. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity.
  2. Make a lengthwise incision along the backbone. Use your boning knife to carefully cut through the skin and flesh, separating the backbone from the meat.
  3. Work on one side at a time. Starting at the backbone, use the tip of your knife to trim along the rib cage, separating the meat from the bones. Keep the blade close to the carcass to avoid cutting into the meat.
  4. Navigate the hip joint. As you reach the hip joint, trim around it and twist the leg to pop the bone free from the carcass. Continue trimming down to the bottom.
  5. Move to the wing. Locate the thin, flat bone at the shoulder and trim along it until you reach the joint. Cut through the cartilage and carve around the wing bone, scraping the meat from the bone.
  6. Repeat on the other side. Perform the same steps on the other side of the bird, freeing the carcass from the meat. Be careful not to cut through the meat and skin at the bottom.
  7. Remove the leg and wing bones. Lay the bird flat, skin-side down. Locate the thigh bone and trim along its contours until you remove it. Pull out the long, white tendons with pliers or by scraping the meat off with a kitchen towel. Repeat for the wings.
  8. Congratulations! Your turkey is now boneless. You can fill any gaps with the tenderloin part of the breast and proceed with stuffing and rolling.


  • Watch video tutorials for visual guidance.
  • Don’t worry about perfection. The focus is on removing the bones, not creating a masterpiece.
  • Save the bones for flavorful stock or soup.
  • Enjoy the convenience and deliciousness of your deboned turkey!

Additional Resources:

With these instructions and resources, you’re well-equipped to tackle the task of deboning a turkey. Remember, patience and a sharp knife are your key allies in this culinary adventure. Enjoy the process and savor the rewards of a perfectly cooked, deboned turkey!

How To Debone Your Thanksgiving Turkey!


How do you take the bones out of a turkey?

Take hold of one side of the breast and with a sharp knife cut and scrape the meat away from the rib cage, keeping the knife close to the bones, pulling the bones away from the meat as you go. To entirely free the breast from the rib cage you must cut through the shoulder joint. Repeat on the other side.

How do you remove the bone from a turkey breast before cooking?

Using a very sharp knife or better yet, heavy kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone through the rib cage to remove a strip about 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Then you have a choice. Some people simply flip the turkey over and press downward to break the breastbone sufficiently so that the bird lays flat.

How long does it take to debone a Turkey?

It also makes carving a cinch. Your butcher might be willing to debone the turkey for you, though usually at a higher price, you can accomplish the surprisingly easy process at home in about 15 minutes, with no tools needed other than a sharp knife and a large cutting board.

How do you Debon a Turkey?

Cut along the rib bones, using a sharp knife. Carefully remove the breast meat from the turkey carcass. Repeat steps 3-6 for the other side of the turkey. Deboning a whole turkey is a daunting task, but it is also a rewarding one. By deboning a turkey, you can create a more evenly cooked bird that is easier to carve.

How do you cut a Turkey backbone?

Alternatively, with a sharp boning knife, slice the turkey from neck to tail down the center of the backbone about a half-inch deep, cutting through the skin and just into the meat. Slice the meat from either side of the backbone, working in shortcuts using just the tip of the knife while keeping it positioned against the bone.

Can You Debon a whole turkey?

Deboning a whole turkey is a daunting task, but it is also a rewarding one. By deboning a turkey, you can create a more evenly cooked bird that is easier to carve. Additionally, deboning a turkey can help you save money, as you can use the bones to make stock or soup. This guide will walk you through the steps of deboning a whole turkey.

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