Easy and Quick Way to Remove Turkey Backbone

Thanksgiving is approaching, and it’s the time of the year when families gather for a feast together. The centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is undoubtedly the turkey. Roasting a whole turkey for Thanksgiving is a tradition that dates back centuries. It’s, however, no secret that preparing a whole turkey can be a cumbersome task. One of the trickiest parts of the preparation is removing the backbone. In this post, we’ll explain how to remove the backbone from turkey like a pro and without struggling.

What is a Turkey Backbone?

The turkey backbone is a bony structure located at the back of the bird. The backbone starts from the base of the neck and runs through the neck, breasts, legs, and all the way to the tail. The backbone comprises several small bones that make it difficult to maneuver and break down the turkey.

Why Remove the Backbone?

While cooking a turkey with the backbone is possible, removing it comes with a myriad of advantages. First, removing the backbone makes the bird lay flat, facilitating even cooking. Secondly, this method exposes the skin, giving it a crispy texture all around. Removing the backbone also speeds up cooking time while allowing even penetration of the seasoning and flavors into the meat. With the backbone removed, the turkey is quicker to cook, lighter in weight, easier to carve, and definitely more aesthetically appealing.

What do you need?

To start with, you will need a razor-sharp, sturdy pair of kitchen shears, a turkey, and a trimming board. You should also have a roasting pan, a thermometer, and a kitchen towel nearby.

Steps for Removing the Backbone from Turkey

Now that you have gathered all the supplies required, it’s time to begin the process of removing the backbone from the turkey.

Step 1: Prep the Turkey

Place the turkey on the trimming board; ensure the neck and legs face you and the spine upwards. Spread the turkey and flatten it. Dry it using a kitchen towel and set it aside.

Step 2: Cut the Skin Along the Backbone

Using a sharp kitchen shear, start cutting the skin along the right side of the backbone, starting from the tail at the cavity up to the neck. Be careful not to damage the meat. Cut along slowly, using your free hand to gently guide the flesh and skin away from the bone. Once you reach the neck, use the shears to cut the bone at the neck and around the rib cage.

Step 3: Cut the Backbone on the Other Side

Flip the Turkey halfway and repeat the process, cutting the skin to your left this time. Cut the bone until you get to the neck’s base, and remove the bone by cutting through the cartilage using the shears.

Step 4: Remove the Wishbone

After cutting out the backbone, reach underneath the turkey’s neck and remove the wishbone using your fingertips, making it easier while carving.

Step 5: Flatten the Turkey

Spread the turkey open and flatten it on the trimming board, using your hands to press down on it. Stuff the turkey or add your seasoning at this point, if you wish.

Step 6: Roast the Turkey

Finally, preheat your oven to 375 F and put the turkey in a roasting tin, adding some vegetables for taste. Cook for about two hours, occasionally basting it if necessary. Afterward, check whether it’s done by using a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bird. Once the thermometer reads 165 F, remove the turkey from the oven, and let it rest for 10-15 mins. This resting period is essential as it allows the turkey to absorb the juices flowing back into the meat, retaining its flavor and moisture.


Removing the backbone from turkey is not an impossible task. With the right tools, a little patience, and some careful maneuvering, anyone can do it like a pro. Not only does it make cooking an even and faster process, but also it makes carving easy and more appealing. Give it a try this Thanksgiving, and impress your friends and family with a perfectly roasted turkey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *