Spatchcock Turkey


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Spatchcock Turkey is a quick way to roast turkey. Butterflying a turkey makes it cook fast while the meat comes out extra juicy with crispy skin!

Cook a large turkey for a crowd in about 90 minutes! While it’s perfect for Thanksgiving or holidays, this spatchcocked turkey is quick and easy enough that it can be made any time of year.

Whote Spatchcock Turkey on baking sheet fresh out of the oven

Cook a Big Turkey FAST!

My mom has been making spatchcock turkey for years. I have been making my friend Mary’s roast turkey with wine and herbs which is so juicy and gets rave reviews each time and it’s much quicker than making a traditional roast turkey.

Mary’s recipe inspired me to start making my mom’s spatchcock turkey.  This spatchcock turkey recipe removes the backbone and butterflies it while Mary’s Roast Turkey breaks down the turkey. Both are amazing!

What Is Spatchcock?

Spatchcocking a bird is the process of removing the backbone and flattening it onto a baking tray (or butterflying it). It may seem a bit intimidating but it’s really easy to do, saves a lot of cook time and helps everything cook evenly.

With this method, you can cook a 10-12 lb turkey in about 70-90 minutes!

Overhead shot of Spatchcock Turkey on baking sheet before being cooked

This recipe works for spatchcock turkey or spatchcock chicken, the method is the same just the cooking time needs to be adjusted!

Choosing a Turkey for this Recipe

I’ve used a turkey up to 20lbs but keep in mind, it’s really hard to find a pan that fits a spatchcocked turkey larger than 16lbs (I had to go to a restaurant store to buy a huge pan for a 20 pounder).

When making spatchcock turkey, you can use a butter-basted turkey (like Butterball) or regular turkey. I lower the temperature a bit if using a butter-basted turkey so the drippings don’t burn.

The Pan

Make sure your pan has a fairly deep rim as your turkey will have drippings that you’ll want for gravy!

Overhead shot of Spatchcock Turkey on baking sheet right out of oven

How To Spatchcock A Turkey

With a spatchcock turkey, you will need to use poultry shears or very strong kitchen scissors to cut the backbone out. Regular scissors don’t work and even some kitchen scissors are not strong enough (and a knife is just plain ol’ dangerous for this job). (Most kitchen scissors are good for chicken though).

If you plan to spatchcock a turkey, I’d suggest investing in poultry shears or ask your butcher if they’ll cut the backbone out for you, many of them will and it’ll make your job a lot easier.

  1. Begin with the breast side down. Cut along both sides of the backbone with the poultry shears. Depending on the size of your turkey, it can be very difficult to cut and takes a bit of strength. Be sure to set the backbone aside to make gravy (or freeze it to add to Homemade Chicken Stock).
  2. Run a knife along the breast bone in the center to “score” it. Flip the turkey over (so it is breast side up) and begin to fold it apart.
  3. Press very firmly on the center of the turkey breast with the palms of your hand until you hear it snap and flatten out.
  4. Pull the thighs out to help flatten the bird even more. Once the turkey is flattened, cut the wing tips off.

Brushing oil mixture oven turkey breast

Place the spatchcocked turkey on a baking tray and let it sit for at least 30 minutes (or cover and refrigerate overnight). This will allow juices to release and help to provide crisper skin.

Brush the spatchcocked turkey with olive oil and herbs, and bake it until it is tender and the skin is crisp.

Sliced Spatchcock Turkey on a cutting board

Temperature for Spatchcock Turkey

This cooks nice and evenly since it’s flattened. A high temperature seals in the juices and ensures a crispy skin.

  • Roast at 450°F for a regular turkey
  • Roast at 425°F for a butter-basted (or Butterball) turkey

The turkey should be baked until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F. Like all roasted meats, rest the turkey for at least 15 minutes before you carve it. This frees up the oven to get the rest of your sides ready!

When I make a spatchcock turkey, I often cook Crock Pot Stuffing so it’s easy! Serve the spatchcock turkey alongside all of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes like dinner rolls, sweet potato casserole and don’t forget the gravy!

More Thanksgiving Recipes You’ll Love

We serve this alongside Mashed Potatoesstuffing and our favorite Bacon Green Bean Bundles.

Whote Spatchcock Turkey on baking sheet fresh out of the oven
4.96 from 21 votes
Review Recipe

Spatchcock Turkey

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Spatchcock turkey cooks quickly and cooks evenly resulting in a juicy bird with a deliciously crisp skin!

Ingredients

  • 1 turkey approximately 10-12 pounds, defrosted
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh herbs rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage
  • salt and pepper

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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine olive oil and chopped fresh herbs. Set aside.
  • Remove neck and giblets from the turkey (and reserve for broth or gravy).
  • Place turkey on a work surface breast side down so the backbone is facing up. Using poultry shears, cut along each side of the back bone to remove the back bone completely (reserve the bone for broth or gravy).
  • Flip the turkey over breast side up. Using your palms, press on the turkey to flatten it. You should hear the cartilage in the breast bone crack as it flattens.
  • Using the poultry shears, cut the wing tips off (reserve for gravy).
  • Arrange the turkey on a large rimmed baking sheet. Brush with the olive oil mixture and season well with salt and pepper.
  • Roast the turkey for 1 ¼ hrs to 1 ½ hrs or until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F.
  • Remove from the oven and loosely tent with foil. Rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

Recipe Notes

If using a butter-basted turkey reduce oven temperature to 425°F.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 401, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 47g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 154mg, Sodium: 241mg, Potassium: 508mg, Vitamin A: 120IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 2.2mg
Keyword spatchcock turkey

 

 

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Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Comments

    1. I cooked a 20lb turkey per the temperature in the recipe. If you have never cooked a turkey that size, I would suggest trying it in the pan before, my 20lb was so large I had to purchase a new pan that almost filled my whole oven (I found it at a kitchen supply store). Let us know how it works out for you!

  1. Good Heavens…I can’t begin to imagine the size of a 20lb turkey! But I use this method often for chicken…and it always works well…especially when cooked on a layer of veg with harissa pasta for a spicy Moroccan feel.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!5 stars

  2. The best way to bake a turkey. Taste great, the meat is evenly cooked, and juicy. Getting ready to put one in the oven. Thanks Hollie for the great recipes.5 stars

  3. So we tried this recipe yesterday. The spatchcock worked out just fine but then the trouble started. My first thought when I saw the instructions to heat at 450 was that’s pretty high. But since I haven’t had troubles with issues with other recipes from this site I figured to trust it.

    After about 15 minutes the grease from the turkey was pooling up in the corner of the pan and smoking all over the place. I pulled it out, drained the grease, set it to 425, put it back in. Same thing happened again as soon as more grease collected. We turned the oven down to 400, same thing. After the fourth time I just set it to 350. There was still a lot of spitting and sizzling but no more smoke at least and it cooked in 1.5 hours total so technically worked out. Except for the smoke all over the house on Christmas Day :(

    So is this something that only happened to me, or is everyone else just not mentioning the smoke? I have a gas oven, and it was a turkey fresh from the butcher. Could either of those be the issue?

    Next time I think I’ll try 425 for the first 15 minutes, then turn down to 350. And I won’t use olive oil since that smokes easier at high temperatures.

    1. I haven’t had an issue with smoke with this recipe and I’ve made it many times. My mom also made this recipe yesterday for Christmas and I checked with her, she didn’t experience the smoke either. That being said, neither of us have a gas oven so I can’t say for sure why.

      If you are seeing smoke, you could try adding a bit of liquid (broth) to the bottom at first until the turkey starts to produce juices. You will see some spitting/sizzling as it does cook at a high temperature. I hope that helps!

    2. When I read to cook turkey in a baking sheet pan I thought “ I won’t use a sheet pan because of the amount of juice that comes from a turkey. I would use a roasting pan. Maybe that was the problem. Hope this helps.

    3. Our bird was smoking up our house last year, Anne. We figure from the olive oil. We used a different recipe, but it was basically the same. This year we might pass on the olive oil or use something with a higher smoking point.

  4. OMG! I tried this recipe yesterday (Thanksgiving) and it turned out amazing! I’ll never roast another turkey whole again! Everyone loved it too – the whole thing was just so juicy just like you said it would be. The only thing I changed was to use butter instead of olive oil as I forgot to buy some and had no rosemary. Oh – it was divine! So thank you so much for this recipe!

  5. I agree it can be intimidating to Spatchcock a turkey, but my 80+ year old dad became a bigger hero in my eyes when he and my mom did that to their 20+ pound turkey for Thanksgiving last year! It was wonderful!4 stars

    1. I have a 21 lb bird this year and am considering the Spatchcock method. At that size, will it be too wide to fit onto a roasting pan or baking sheet?

      1. Hi Nick, The largest we’ve ever cooked was 16lbs and we needed to purchase a pan that was as large as an entire rack in the oven. So I worry is that a spatchcocked turkey at 21lbs might not fit in the oven.

        In this case I might suggest you break it down further as Mary shows on her blog Barefeet in the Kitchen here. Holly has successfully made Mary’s recipe with a 25lb turkey twice and it is amazing.

        Let us know how it goes for you!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. quick question: I have a convection oven. what would the temp be if cooking a spatchcock Turkey in that? they say because of the convection feature you need to reduce the temperature. thank you

    1. I haven’t cooked this on convection but generally with convection I reduce the temperature by 25°F and check it sooner than the recipe directs to ensure it doesn’t overcook.

  7. Hey! Am new to your website & loving it! Thanks for all you do!
    Have a question about ‘Spatchcock Turkey”; can this recipe be adjusted for a turkey breast??? I live alone & LOVE turkey, but a whole turkey is way too much for me & was wondering if you might give me some tips for cooking a breast this way, please?????
    Thank you!
    Barbara in TN

  8. It says to cook the turkey at 450 degrees but it also says to brush olive oil on the bird as well. I’m confused, because olive oil has a smoke point of 405 degrees. So Would your kitchen get all smoky from the burning olive oil?

    1. The largest I’ve ever cooked was 16lbs and it took almost 2 hours. With a 16lb turkey we actually had to go and purchase a pan that was as large as an entire rack in my oven. So my worry is that a spatchcocked turkey at 24lbs might not fit in the oven.

      In this case I might suggest you break it down further as my friend Mary shows on her blog Barefeet in the Kitchen here. I have successfully made Mary’s recipe with a 25lb turkey twice and it is amazing.

      You can season it using this recipe or as Mary seasons hers but I just want to make sure you have options in case your turkey won’t fit in the oven! Let me know how it goes for you!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. I’ve only made this with olive oil as mentioned in the recipe, if you do find the need to turn the temperature down when using butter, you may need to add a bit of extra cooking time. You’ll want to ensure your thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F.

  9. I made this turkey recipe for a family gathering, and it was perfect. The olive oil allowed it to bake golden brown and made a great presentation. I had a hard time believing it would cook as quickly as the recipe states .. but it did. Turkey was moist as could be. It really helped having a quick turnaround as we were eating early and I didn’t have to spend the entire day in the kitchen.5 stars

  10. Hi Holly, sorry for the last minute question….if my pan is too short to accommodate whole bird for Spatchcock Turkey, can I separate legs and rearrange? Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!5 stars

    1. Sure you can!! If you look at the post I’ve linked to from Barefeet in the Kitchen, Mary completely breaks down the turkey. It works great, just keep an eye on temperatures. :) Happy Thanksgiving!