Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey made with herbs and spices has the backbone removed and is pressed flat for an incredibly flavorful and FAST turkey dinner, ready in only 90 minutes!

It’s less than a week until Thanksgiving and we’re in full swing over here cooking up turkey with all of the trimmings like Easy Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Sweet PotatoesBaked Mac and Cheese, and Green Bean Casserole.

Spatchcock Turkey
 Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey is a quick and easy way to make a Thanksgiving turkey. It only takes a few short minutes to prepare, but your guests will be impressed because it looks like you spent hours preparing the bird! I love making this turkey when the holidays come around, because it’s only takes 90 minutes in the oven before it’s done. That means I have more time to spend doing family activities, instead of watching the kitchen. Not to mention, it frees up a lot of oven space for other dishes, like Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake!

A lot of recipes call for grilling a spatchcock turkey, but I prefer to cook mine on a sheet pan in the oven. You can finish this off under the broiler for a few minutes if you want a really crispy skin. It will also give you that golden brown color that makes the turkey look like you just cut it out of a magazine.

HOW LONG DOES SPATCHCOCK TURKEY TAKE TO COOK?

A spatchcock turkey takes WAY less time to cook than a roasted whole turkey. Because the turkey is basically flattened, heat can more evenly distribute throughout the bird, making it cook faster. This 16 pound turkey took only 90 minutes to cook in the oven.

WHY DO THEY CALL IT SPATCHCOCK?

Spatchcock comes from the phrase “dispatch the cock”, or split a bird open and grill it. It’s really similar to butterflying, but they term “spatchcock” is used when it relates to poultry. To spatchcock a turkey, you have to run your kitchen knife down the spine of your bird and remove the backbone, then crack the breast bone so the bird will lay flat. I discard the bone, but you can save it to make stock later, too.

HOW TO MAKE A SPATCHCOCK TURKEY REALLY MOIST

  • Moist spatchcock turkey meat is REALLY easy to achieve with the right technique. First, don’t skip the butter. The butter adds fat to the dish which helps keep the meat really tender and juicy, and the skin super crispy.
  • Watch your cook time and temperature. Cooking the turkey for too long or at too high of a temperature is a sure way to overcook it and end up with dry turkey breast.
  • Season both sides of the turkey with salt and pepper. Salt helps bring both moisture and flavor to the turkey meat.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH SPATCHCOCK TURKEY FOR THANKSGIVING

TIPS FOR MAKING SPATCHCOCK TURKEY

  • Spatchcock turkey cooks much faster than a roasted turkey, but it’s still important to make sure it’s cooked all the way through by using a meat thermometer to read the internal temperature of the middle of the thigh. It needs to be at least 165 degrees F.
  • If you’re not comfortable using a knife, you can use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut out the backbone of the bird.
  • Let your turkey rest after taking it out of the oven. Just like steak, a whole turkey needs the chance to let those juices settle before you cut into it.
  • Don’t skip the butter step! It adds a lot of flavor and moisture to the meat, not to mention it is crucial for achieving the nice crispy skin we look for in a Thanksgiving turkey.

Easy Spatchcock Turkey

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Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey made with herbs and spices has the backbone removed and is pressed flat for an incredibly flavorful and FAST turkey dinner, ready in only 90 minutes!
Yield 16 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1 16 pound turkey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, remove the giblets and dry your turkey well with paper towels.
  • Mix the butter with the salt, pepper, sage, thyme, rosemary and parsley.
  • Put the turkey on a large sheet pan backbone facing up and using either kitchen shears or a large chef's knife cut out the backbone (I use a chefs knife and it took about 30 seconds) then turn back over and press the turkey down flat (you'll hear some bones breaking as it lays flat).
  • Rub the butter all over the turkey and tuck the wings under before roasting for 90 minutes before raising the temperature to 400 and roasting for an additional 15 minutes (don't forget to rest the turkey for 10-15 minutes before carving).

Notes

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 506kcal | Protein: 69g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 247mg | Sodium: 797mg | Potassium: 726mg | Vitamin A: 425IU | Vitamin C: 1.4mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2.9mg
Keyword: spatchcock turkey

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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Comments

  1. Hi Sabrina! Messaging you from Manila. I am making this for New Year’s day and have a 12 pound turkey in my freezer right now. I’m a bit anxious about the preparation and just want to make sure no one gets food poisoning 🙁 My plan is this:
    1. Let the whole frozen turkey thaw in the fridge for 3 days.
    2. On the morning of Day 4/Roast Day (turkey should be fully thawed), I will spatchcock the turkey and return it to the fridge for the rest of the day, until around 5pm, when I’ll take it out again, rub the butter mixture all over it, and roast it.

    So my question is about my item number 2 in my plan. Is it safe to take the thawed turkey out of the fridge, spatchcock it, and return it to the fridge for about 8-10 hours, before I take it out again around 5pm to roast it? Would really appreciate your advice. Thank you!

  2. My turkey is 11 lbs. can you give me cooking times. Also, can I use ghee instead of butter. Very excited to try this. I have never Spatchcocked before!

    1. Your timing would be around 60 minutes at 350 and then the additional 15 min at 400. I haven’t tried it with ghee but it sounds amazing too! Enjoy!

  3. I used this recipe last Thanksgiving and will use again this year. Great flavors. The white meat is the juiciest ever. My brother said he does not usually like white meat, but loved this. He asked me last week what plans I have for this year. When I told him the same as last, he said, “Great!!”

  4. Hello – Can you use this method (spatchcock) is I am using only a breast? I love spatchcock chicken so thought I would like this too Thank you

  5. Hello Sabrina,

    I made your recipe here last Thanksgiving and was just delicious and we are going to make again next week for Thanksgiving! Super moist and tender, so easy. Everyone just gobbled up, sorry couldn’t resist that! Thank you for this, so happy I bookmarked.

  6. I’ve used this method for chicken and loved the results. However, this filled my kitchen with smoke which would be a disaster on Thanksgiving. Any hints on preventing this? Thanks for the recipe!

    1. It sounds like something was burning oil/fat which leads me to believe that your pan wasn’t deep enough. For Thanksgiving, I suggest finding the largest disposable foil roasting pan that has high sides so no fat can escape. You can spatchcock the turkey, cut in half and cook the two halves in separate pans. If you would like to troubleshoot, feel free to email me at contact @ dinnerthendessert. com

  7. Wow. I hate white meat until today. Soo juicy and tender. Best turkey yet, approved by all including grandkids. Will make this again and with chicken.
    20lb bird at 350° 2hrs. 400° for 15minutes at end & rest

  8. Wow. I hate white meat until today. Soo juicy and tender. Best turkey yet, approved by all including grandkids. Will make this again and with chicken.
    20lb bird at 350° 2hrs. 400° for 15minutes at end & rest

    1. So bake my 14lb bird for 80 minutes at 350° then an additional 15 minutes at 400° to crisp the skin? Should I cut the initial baking time down 15 minutes to accommodate the 15 minutes of higher temp at the end. I’m confused….. ?

  9. Thanks for the fast reply Sabrina, my 1st time this way, will put a post comment and picture after. Thanks again Happy Holidays

  10. I’m making this on Saturday! I hope people making it today will comment on what they thought! I’m excited to try this!

  11. Dead easy recipe and the beauty is that you can fit it under the grill to crisp up with this spatchcock method. Will certainly try this for the festive season. Many thanks Sabrina.

  12. I’ve never heard of this method for cooking turkey, but I’m intrigued! I love that it cooks so much faster. The hardest part about Thanksgiving is waiting for the turkey to cook!