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Carve Your Thanksgiving Turkey (and More) Without Getting Juices All Over Your Counter

Carving boards are great, but you don’t always need one to keep your counters juice-free.

Published Nov. 1, 2022.

Picture this: You’ve just extracted a beautiful roast from your oven and you’re ready to eat. You start to carve, and juices flow from your cutting board, flooding your countertop and creating a big, unsanitary headache. 

Delightful for your pet if you have one. For you? Not so much. 

Freely flowing meat juices are frustrating and yucky but thankfully, avoidable! Here are our three tips for avoiding a countertop mess when cooking large roasts, especially Thanksgiving turkey

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Tip #1: Please, Rest Your Roast

If you’ve had a juicy meat disaster in the past, chances are you’re not letting your meat or poultry rest for long enough. Just like any hardworking cook such as yourself, a roast turkey, chicken, or cut of beef needs plenty of rest

Resting the meat gives the cells that make up its musculature time to relax and reabsorb the moisture they lost during the cooking process. This ensures that moisture reaches your plate rather than flooding your countertop. (It also finishes the cooking process during this time.)

We recommend resting your Thanksgiving turkey for at least 45 minutes. Don’t cover it with foil, either. Don’t worry! It won’t get cold, and leaving it uncovered helps the skin stay crispy. 

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Tip #2: Make Your Own Carving Board

If all you have is a smaller wooden or plastic cutting board, fear not. You can make your own carving board. Place the cutting board inside a rimmed baking sheet (also called a half sheet pan). The sheet pan’s raised edges will contain the juice runoff as you carve and keep your counters clean. 

For extra stability, place a damp paper towel or small piece of non-slip drawer liner between the board and the sheet pan (and the sheet pan and the counter, while you’re at it). If you have one, a cutting board stabilizer would also work.

No carving board? No problem. Create your own at home with a small cutting board set inside a rimmed baking sheet.

Tip #3: Consider Investing in a Carving Board

If you’re a frequent carver, it might be worth purchasing a dedicated carving board (our winner is the J.K. Adams Large Reversible Maple Carving Board). 

I have our winner and use it all the time. I love that it’s not overly large, but sports a deep trough that catches every bit of juice as I carve. One side also has a large divot that perfectly fits a turkey or chicken but doesn’t obstruct my knife. It’s not too heavy, so it’s easy to handle, and it fits in my sink for simple cleanup. 

Now that you know how to contain juices when carving, here’s the best way to carve a turkey:

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