How to Debone a Turkey Breast

Three Parts:Preparing to Debone Your TurkeyRemoving the Keel BoneRemoving Additional Bones

Deboning (sometimes called “boning”) is the process of removing the bones from a fowl before cooking. Deboned turkey breasts are the basis for many recipes, such as oven-roasted turkey breast or turkey kabobs. Bones from the deboning process can also be used to make turkey stock. Learning how to debone your own meat can save you money, as most deboned cuts are more expensive than bone-in meats. Once the deboning technique is mastered it can be used on any number of fowl including goose, pheasant, duck, and chicken.

Part 1
Preparing to Debone Your Turkey

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    Set aside some time. If this is your first time deboning a turkey breast, schedule plenty of time to complete the task. Deboning a turkey breast will usually take about 10 minutes, but with practice you will become faster and more efficient.[1]
  2. 2
    Gather some supplies. You are going to need a plastic cutting board; a sharp, thin boning knife; and of course a whole turkey breast. Additionally, make sure that your kitchen area is sanitary before you begin.[2]
  3. 3
    Wash your hands. It is crucial to begin with sanitary hands, otherwise you could introduce bacteria into your turkey. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water. You will want to wash your hands again when you are finished.
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    Clean and wash the turkey breast. Run your turkey breast under warm water and use your hands to remove any unwanted grime. Do not use soap on your turkey breast.
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    Remove the skin. If you would like to prepare your turkey breast without skin, now is a good time to remove it. Using a slicing knife and your fingers, carefully peel back the skin and discard. (This step is optional.)

Part 2
Removing the Keel Bone

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    Position the turkey. Place the turkey breast with the skin-side down on a plastic cutting board. Position the pointed end so it is facing away from you. Be sure that you have plenty of elbow room around your cutting board to work.[3]
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    Make a center slice. Make a cut down the center of the breast all the way down to the bone. This may take several cuts. Make each cut deeper than the last until the bone is reached.[4]
  3. 3
    Locate the keel bone. The keel bone is a dark triangular bone in the center of the breast. This is the first and more important bone to remove. You may want to pick up the breast and bend it backward a bit in order to better expose the keel bone.[5]
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    Cut the cartilage. Using your knife. slice through the cartilage found just above the keel bone. Once again, this may require several runs with your knife, moving deeper each time.[6]
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    Remove the keel bone. Pick up the breast and bend it backwards even more. 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, as well as the cartilage.[7]
    • If the keel bone does not pop out easily, slide your fingers underneath it on one side, then the other, working to break up any cartilage.
    • Once the cartilage is disconnected from the bone, it should come out easily.

Part 3
Removing Additional Bones

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    Locate the long bones. There are two long bones (one on each side) that run the length of the breast. Find the two long bones, and use both hands to bend the bones backwards, loosening them.[8]
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    Remove the long bones. Use the knife to work your way around the bones and cartilage of the long bones. Work carefully to remove meat and cartilage until the bone is free. Repeat on the opposite side. Save as much meat as possible.[9]
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    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 remove it.[10]
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    Clean up the breasts. Remove the white tendon, as well as any loose connective tissue from the turkey breast. If desired, cut the turkey breasts into two halves. Using a sharp knife (your boning knife, or a more standard kitchen knife), slice down the center of the turkey breast longways. This will give you smaller servings to store and prepare.[11]
  5. 5
    Store your turkey. Cover your raw turkey meat with plastic wrap, place it in a plastic bag, or seal it in another air-tight container. Your uncooked turkey will be OK in your refrigerator for 2-3 days. If you do not plan to use it in that time, it is best to place your air-tight container in the freezer, where it will last for several weeks. When you are ready to use it, thaw your turkey in the fridge overnight.
  6. 6
    Clean up. When you have finished, be sure to thoroughly cleanse your hands, your instruments, and your kitchen area. Whenever you work with raw poultry, be sure to use hot soapy water to disinfect everything.


  • When deboning a turkey, you should never cut through bone.
  • Try using a disposable scalpel instead of a boning knife for the deboning process.
  • Practice deboning a breast on a smaller fowl such as a chicken before trying a full-sized turkey.
  • Buy bone-in meats in bulk. Debone and freeze them for extra savings and convenience.

Things You'll Need

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

Article Info

Categories: Food Cutting Techniques | Turkey Dishes