How to Clean a Turkey

Be careful to keep everything clean while you prepare to cook your turkey on the big day. Follow a routine that will ensure the turkey is as healthy and delicious.


Up next in Food Preparation Tips, Tricks & Techniques (79 videos)

Start cooking like a top chef with the step by step food prep instructions in this Howcast video series.


You Will Need

  • Preparation
  • Care
  • Cleanliness


  1. Step 1

    Remove neck and giblets

    Reach inside the neck cavity and remove the neck and giblets. Save them for stock before the cooking starts.

  2. If you can feel ice on the inside of the turkey, set it in cold water until it has completely thawed.

  3. Step 2

    Rinse it

    Rinse and clean the turkey thoroughly under cold running water, turning and rubbing to get every part, inside and out.

  4. Step 3

    Dry and drain

    Dry the turkey with clean kitchen or paper towels. Set the carcass cavity down so that it drains into the sink.

  5. Step 4

    Wash everything

    Wash anything that might have come into contact with the bird after you clean it -- utensils, cutting boards, and your counter top.

  6. Be cautious not to touch or put any cooked food on a plate that held the raw turkey.

  7. Step 5

    Scrub your hands

    Avoid touching any surface in the kitchen before scrubbing your hands and forearms to be sure nothing is cross-contaminated.

  8. Step 6

    Cook the bird

    Cook and serve your bird, and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.

  9. In 1939, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up one week, to the third week of November, to lengthen the Christmas shopping season.