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When you don’t have the time to cook a whole roasted turkey, let me show you how to spatchcock a turkey instead. This method tastes very similar to a regular roast turkey, but cooks MUCH faster, in as little as an hour, though I do recommend brining it ahead of time. This spatchcock turkey recipe will walk you through all the steps to spatchcock a turkey, how to season it, and how to cook it to be perfectly juicy and golden. It will be the star of your holiday table and is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even a fall dinner.
What Is Spatchcock Turkey?
A spatchcock turkey is a whole turkey that is roasted flat — much like spatchcock chicken. To do this, we cut out the backbone and break the breast bone to flatten, then roast just as you would a regular turkey. It’s a great way to cook turkey because it cooks more evenly and more quickly.
Why You’ll Love This Spatchcock Turkey Recipe
- Juicy, flavorful meat
- Golden, crispy skin
- Easy-to-prep ahead
- Cooks in 60-90 minutes, saving precious oven space
Ingredients You’ll Need
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for spatchcocked turkey, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Whole Turkey – Use a high quality turkey for best flavor. You can buy fresh or frozen, just make sure to thaw it if you buy a frozen turkey (see my thawing guide here, and give yourself enough time!). Remove the giblets.
- Kosher Salt – Sea salt would work as well, but is more expensive, so I use kosher salt for the large amount needed here. It might seem like a lot of salt, but the amount is necessary to create an environment where the water will transfer to the turkey meat to make it juicy.
- Butter – I prefer grass fed butter for best flavor and nutrition, but use any unsalted butter you like.
- Fresh Herbs – Sage, rosemary, and thyme
- Garlic – I use fresh garlic cloves so that I can crush them, which distributes the garlic most evenly. But you can also use minced garlic instead, which can come from whole cloves or a jar.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
The compound butter will go under the skin. I think sage, rosemary and thyme are the most classic herbs for turkey, but you can use other compound butter variations here.
- Olive Oil – For drizzling over the turkey skin. Avocado oil is fine as well. Avoid oils or fats with a low smoke point, such as butter, over the skin, because they will burn.
- Paprika – Sweet or smoked. This adds flavor and also gives your turkey a beautiful golden hue. Feel free to add any other spices you like here.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
How To Spatchcock A Turkey
This section shows how to make this spatchcock turkey recipe, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Brine. Stir together water and kosher salt in a large stock pot. Submerge turkey in brine, cover, and place in the fridge for 10-12 hours.
- Dry. Drain water from pot, place turkey on a large cutting board and dry with paper towels.
TIP: Let the turkey come to room temp if you have time. If possible, rest turkey on the counter for 30 minutes before roasting — this will help it cook more evenly, but you can skip this step if you’re pressed for time.
- Butterfly the turkey. Place the turkey breast side down and use poultry shears to cut out the spine. To cut out the spin, cut along the side of the backbone, then cut along the other side. (You can use the spine for turkey gravy or discard it.) Open the turkey up like a book with your hands, then flip over. Use the palm of your hand and your body weight to press down on turkey breast, which will crack the breastbone, break the rib cage, and allow the turkey to lay flat. Transfer the splayed turkey to a wire rack set over an extra-large rimmed baking sheet, or a roasting pan with rack if yours is large enough.
- Make compound butter. In a small bowl, mash butter and mix with sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper.
- Season the turkey meat. Run your hands under the turkey skin and place dollops of butter underneath the skin. Press down over skin to help spread butter around.
- Season the turkey skin. Drizzle or brush the turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, paprika, and black pepper. Tuck wing tips under breast.
- Roast. Roast turkey for 60-100 minutes, until cooked through. (Cover with foil toward the end if it starts to brown too much.) Use a meat thermometer to check that the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees F.
- Rest. Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. This will lock in the juices. Save the pan drippings to make gravy!
How Long To Cook A Spatchcock Turkey?
Spatchcock turkey cooking time will vary slightly, but a good rule of thumb is that it will take about 60-100 minutes, depending on turkey size and oven temperature. The spatchcock turkey cook time per pound is about 6 minutes per pound, but it’s best to use a meat thermometer to know when it’s perfectly cooked.
How To Carve A Spatchcock Turkey?
Carving a splayed turkey is slightly different than a traditional roasted turkey. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut the legs from the breast, the drumsticks from the thighs, cut wings from the breast, and then slice the breast meat.
How Much Turkey Per Person?
On average, plan for 1 pound of turkey per person, which accounts for bone weight. This leaves you with 6-8 ounces of turkey meat per person.
- Store: Store leftover turkey in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. (It’s great for sandwiches, soups, and salads!)
- Prep ahead: You can prepare this spatchcock turkey recipe up to 2-3 days in advance and store in the fridge until ready to roast. To do this, brine the turkey, season under and over the skin, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- Reheat: Reheat leftovers in a 350 degree F oven or microwave, just until hot.
- Freeze: Freeze leftover roast spatchcock turkey for 2-3 months.
What To Serve With Spatchcock Turkey
Serve this roast spatchcock turkey recipe with traditional Thanksgiving side dishes like mashed potatoes, stuffing, and plenty of healthy sides:
- Bacon Wrapped Brussels Sprouts
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Low Carb Gravy
- Green Bean Casserole
- Cauliflower Stuffing
- Sauteed Asparagus
- Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce
More Holiday Centerpiece Recipes
Turkeys are classic for holiday meals, but I’ve got a few other special meals to try:
Easy Spatchcock Turkey Recipe
Spatchcock Turkey Recipe
Learn how to spatchcock a turkey, with perfectly juicy meat and crispy skin! This easy spatchcock turkey recipe cooks in just 60-90 minutes, making a faster holiday meal.
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a large stock pot large enough to fit the turkey, stir together 2 gallons (7.5 L) of water and 2 1/2 cups (128 g) kosher salt. Submerge the turkey in the brine. Refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours.
When the turkey is done brining, drain the water, place the turkey onto a large cutting board, and pat dry with paper towels on all sides.
If possible, let the turkey rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting. (This will ensure more even cooking.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C). Place an extra large oven safe rack over an extra large baking sheet.
Place the turkey breast side down. Use kitchen shears to cut away the spine. (You can discard it or use it to make gravy.)
Use your hands to open up the turkey like a book, then flip it over, open side down. Use the heel of your hand to push down on the turkey breast, which will crush the breast bone and allow the turkey to lay flat.
Transfer the butterflied turkey to the rack over the baking sheet, breast side up.
In a small bowl, mash together the softened butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, crushed garlic, sea salt, and black pepper.
Run your hands under the turkey skin on the breast and legs to separate it from the turkey meat underneath. Place dollops of compound butter all over underneath the skin and then press down over the skin to spread around underneath.
Drizzle olive oil over the turkey, over the skin. Sprinkle it with sea salt, paprika, and black pepper. Tuck the wing tips underneath to prevent burning.
Place the spatchcock turkey in the oven and roast for 60 to 100 minutes (depending on turkey size), until cooked through. Check that the roasted turkey is done with a meat thermometer – it should read 165 degrees for the safest option. For the most juicy turkey, aim for 160 degrees, and then cover in foil immediately after removing from the oven (temperature will continue to increase in the next step). If the turkey starts to brown too much before it’s ready inside, cover it with foil and continue baking until done (I covered mine after 45 minutes).
Let the turkey rest, covered in foil, for 10-15 minutes to come up to 165 to 170 degrees before serving.
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Serving size: ~6-8 oz cooked turkey
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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