Are you tired of the same old Thanksgiving turkey? Looking to try something new and exciting this year? Well, look no further! Spatchcocking a turkey is an easy cooking technique that will not only save you hours in the kitchen but also result in a deliciously moist and evenly cooked bird.
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Let’s face it. Some turkey recipes can get boring and repetitive. What if there were a better way to take your turkey recipes to the next level? Enter spatchcocking. No, we’re not talking about some odd medieval game. We’re talking a tried and true cook method for your best Thanksgiving turkey.
Although spatchcocking may sound complicated and a little funny, it’s actually super easy and worth your time. It’s the secret to getting perfectly cooked turkey every single time! If you’re ready to breakup with traditional roasting methods and venture down the path of spatchcocking, this post is for you.
🎥 Watch: Easy Tips For Spatchcocking (butterflying) A Turkey
What is spatchcocked turkey?
Spatchcocking is a simple technique where you remove the backbone from the turkey, flip it over, and press down on the breast bone to flatten the bird. The result is a spread-eagle appearance that may look funny at first, but it helps the bird cook evenly. Plus, the flatness of the bird allows you to season ALL those sneaky nooks and crannies that you may not have gotten if you roasted a whole turkey.
When you roast a whole bird, you run the risk of some parts cooking too fast and some not enough, resulting in an unevenly cooked bird. And although we love a whole roasted turkey, we find the spatchcocked bird to be less tricky to master.
When you use the spatchcocking method, you increase the surface area of the bird, resulting in more even cooking all over. It’s the perfect technique for those who may have had bad experiences with cooking a whole turkey and want to try their hand at it again—this time, with less room for error.
Plus, the cooking time for a spatchcocked turkey recipe is faster because the meat lays flat at an even thickness. As a result, you can cook an entire bird in less time, making it the perfect method for whipping up a quick, delicious meal.
🦃✂️ How to Spatchcock a Turkey
Although this seems like a complicated process, it’s not. We’re breaking it down step by step.
- Large clean cutting board
- Kitchen sheers
- Thawed turkey
Make sure you’ve thawed your turkey before starting. If you need tips on that, view our guide on how to thaw a turkey.
Preparing the Turkey for Spatchcocking
- The first thing you’ll need is a rimmed baking sheet and a cutting board. Place the turkey breast side down on the cutting board. Then, pat your turkey dry with paper towels. This step produces the crispiest skin when cooking. Then, clean out the inside of the turkey to remove the giblets, neck, and gizzard inside. We save those for giblet gravy.
Removing the Backbone
- Grab your sharp kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Then, make a cut alongside each side of the backbone. Next, carefully pull out the backbone, but don’t throw it away. You can use it to make some delicious turkey stock!
Flattening the Turkey
- Once you’ve removed the backbone, flip the turkey over so the breast side is up. Then, take your hands and press down on the breastbone to flatten the turkey completely. You want the turkey to lay flat on all sides so it cooks evenly.
- Sometimes the turkey just doesn’t want to lay flat under the pressure of your hands, particularly if it’s a large bird. When this happens, use your kitchen sheers to crack the tip of the sternum. Then flip the bird back over and press again. It will lay flat and be ready for a dry brine or go right into the oven for your Thanksgiving turkey recipe.
Girl Carnivore Recipe Tip
We strongly recommend is that you invest in heavy-duty kitchen sheers before starting. These help to cut through the bones easier and safer than regular sheers or even a sharp knife.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for making the cooking process as painless and efficient as possible.
Cooking Time and Temperature
- Traditional roast turkey can take anywhere from 2 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours, depending on how big the bird is and if it’s stuffed or not. That’s not exactly a quick meal. However, when you spatchcock a turkey, it can take around 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. That’s quite a difference in turkey cook time!
- As for internal temperature, the thickest part of the breast meat should read at least 165 degrees F and 170 degrees F in the dark meat to ensure it’s cooked thoroughly. To check the internal temperature, use a meat probe or instant-read thermometer being sure to insert it into the thickest part of the meat and not touch any bone.
Variations and Recipe Ideas
There are a ton of ways to cook a spatchcocked whole turkey. The first and most convenient way is to roasted spatchcock turkey in the oven. You can also grill or smoke a spatchcocked turkey, depending on what you have and the amount of effort you’re willing to put in.
If you plan on making a spatchcocked turkey, use a dry brine or a turkey brine to tenderize the bird. This simple step produces super juicy meat on the inside and crispy turkey skin on the outside. You don’t always have to use a brine, but taking the extra step never hurt anyone and it helps to make the most crispy skin.
If you want to go the extra mile, slide some dreamy compound butter underneath the turkey skin for the ultimate indulgence. And be sure to make a turkey gravy or a classic giblet gravy to serve with it.
Remember, no matter if you smoke it or make a roast spatchcock turkey recipe, use an instant read thermometer inserted to the thickest part of the thigh and breast to ensure the meat has reached 165 degrees F.
Spatchcocking a turkey is a fantastic method for achieving a delicious and evenly cooked bird. By removing the backbone and flattening the turkey, you create an ideal cooking surface that allows for faster and more even heat distribution. Not only does this result in beautifully crispy skin, but it also ensures that both white and dark meat are perfectly cooked to juicy perfection. Meaning, everyone at the table is happy—even the picky eaters.
With the step-by-step instructions provided in this article, you can confidently tackle spatchcocking your Thanksgiving turkey. So why not give it a try this year and impress your family and friends with a tender and flavorful turkey like never before?
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How to Spatchcock a Turkey Step-by-Step Guide
- Large clean cutting board
- Kitchen Sheers
- Thawed turkey
Prep the turkey:
- Remove your turkey from the package and pat dry with paper towels.
- Remove the giblets and neck and dry the cavity well.
- Lay the turkey on a large clean cutting board.
Remove the backbone:
- Using kitchen sheers, make a cut along each side of the backbone, all the way from the end of the cavity to the top of the neck. Once the backbone is removed, save it for turkey stock.
Flatten the turkey:
- Flip the turkey over, breast side up and pull the legs out so the turkey is on an even surface.
- Take the heel of your hand and press on the center of the breastbone to flatten the turkey completely.
- If it is a large bird, you may need to flip it over and use your sheers to crack the top of the breastbone. Then return it to breast side up and press again to get the turkey to lay flat.
Brine or Cook the turkey:
- Now that you have the turkey spatchcocked, you can brine it for 24 hours or cook it immediately.
- See our recommend recipes in the notes below.
- Make sure you’ve thawed your turkey before starting. If you need tips on that, view our guide on how to thaw a turkey.
- We strongly recommend is that you invest in heavy-duty kitchen sheers before starting. These help to cut through the bones easier and safer than regular sheers or even a sharp knife.
Cooking a spatchcocked turkey usually takes 45 minutes at 450 degrees F for an 8-12 pound turkey. Remember turkey cooking time varies based on method and size of the bird. Always use an instant-read thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Yes! This method works for all poultry. You can make Grilled Spatchcock Chicken or grilled game hens using our How to Spatchcock a Chicken guide!
Spatchcock turkey and butterfly turkey can be used interchangeably. However, the spatchcock method refers to splitting the entire bird in half and flattening it. On the other hand, butterflying usually refers to splitting a turkey breast in half, almost cutting all the way through, but leaving enough meat to flatten the breast. Butterflying is usually used for stuffing like this Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken.
Using a rolling pin can help you apply pressure to flatten out the bird completely to ensure it cooks evenly. Do not smash it like a cutlet, but rather use it as a tool to apply leverage to press into the breast bone and break it to help the bird lay flat.
Another tip is to brine your turkey in the fridge before cooking, after flattening it. The cold air helps dry out the skin, resulting in a golden brown crispy skin with tons of flavor.
Use an instant-read meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the turkey reaches at least 165 degrees F. This is where the advantage of spatchcocking comes in handy. Because the bird is flattened, it will have an even temperature all around versus some parts being undercooked or overcooked.
Yes! Feel free to use your favorite seasoning for making a spatchcock turkey. You also have the option of doing a wet brine or dry brine to enhance the flavor and moisture of the bird. We also have a super flavorful chicken marinade that works perfectly for all types of poultry, including spatchcock turkey.
Carve up your spatchcock turkey using our How to Carve a Turkey guide and serve it up with your favorite sides, whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner or a random day! Some great options are Keto Cranberry Sauce, Domino Potatoes, and Kale & Apple Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette!