If you want a juicy turkey that’s evenly cooked with the crispiest skin ever, this Spatchcock Turkey is the recipe for you! It comes out perfect every time and cooks up in under an hour and a half!  

Spatchcock turkey on serving plate with herbs and pomegranate

**This recipe was originally published in November 2015. The text, recipe and photos have been updated.

Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday, and I’ve hosted the holiday for over 15 years. It’s a lot of work, but I truly wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve cooked my fair share of turkeys, including my turkey breast and dry brine turkey recipes, but this Spatchcock Turkey recipe is my favorite way to prepare it.

The term spatchcock means to butterfly, or remove the backbone of a chicken, turkey or game bird, and lay it flat during cooking. See my post on How to Spatchcock Chicken for more information, and be sure to try my Roasted Spatchcock Chicken.

Cooking a turkey using this method is completely life changing. Once you try it, there’s no going back!

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  1. Spatchcock turkey is juicy and flavorful with the crispiest skin ever.
  2. A 12-14 lb. turkey cooks in a 450 degree oven and in just 1 – 1.5 hours, which is about half the time as the traditional method.
  3. Spatchcock turkey cooks more evenly because it’s on a level surface.  The breast meat and dark meat reach doneness at the same time, which means you’ll have a nice, juicy turkey.  
  4. More skin is exposed during roasting, which results in maximum golden brown crispy skin.
  5. If you’re making stock for your turkey gravy, you can toss the backbone into the pot for even more flavor.

Recipe ingredients

I kept this spatchcock turkey recipe very simple — it only includes three ingredients aside from salt and pepper.

Spatchcock turkey on a baking sheet

Ingredient notes

  • Turkey. This recipe is based on a 12-14 lb. turkey, but any size may be used. Cooking times will vary. Ask your butcher to spatchcock the turkey for you to save a step!
  • Oil. Using olive oil results in a turkey with beautifully golden brown, crispy skin. The oil may be substituted with melted butter.
  • Smoked paprika. I love using smoked paprika for its warm, smoky flavor, and it also lends a deep color to the turkey skin. Regular paprika may be substituted, or use your favorite herbs and spices.
  • Kosher salt. Kosher salt is actually larger grains of salt, which means one tablespoon is less salt than a tablespoon of regular table salt. Substitute about 3/4 tablespoon of table salt for 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.

How to make this recipe

This spatchcock turkey recipe is extremely easy to make following the instructions below.

How to spatchcock a turkey

It’s very easy to spatchcock a turkey, but you will need a sharp pair of kitchen sheers and a paring knife.

How to spatchcock a turkey collage
  • To start, remove the giblets and pat the turkey dry with paper towels, then place the turkey breast side down with the legs toward you.  Using sharp kitchen shears, cut alongside the backbone on both sides to remove. 
  • Use a sharp paring knife to cut along the tip of the breastbone (it looks like the tip of triangle) to make it easier to flatten. Turn the turkey over breast side up, press your hands over the turkey breast and apply pressure to flatten.
  • PRO TIP: Avoid the hassle of spatchcocking the turkey yourself and ask your butcher to do it. Be sure to ask for the backbone and giblets so that you can use them for gravy and stock.

How to dry brine the turkey

A dry brine is the easiest way to brine a turkey. There’s no messy liquid to deal with — all you need is salt!

So how does a dry brine work? Moisture from the air and the meat will cause water molecules to form over the turkey, which are absorbed into the turkey meat. The salt breaks down the proteins in the meat, which results in a tender, juicy turkey.

The turkey skin also dries out, which means it will get even crispier in the oven as it cooks.

How to dry brine a turkey collage
  • Pat the turkey dry and salt it generously on both sides, and directly over the breasts beneath the skin.
  • From there, refrigerate the turkey uncovered on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for 1-3 days. 

Prep the turkey

Once the turkey has dry brined for 1-3 days, it’s time to prep it with a simple olive oil rub before cooking.

Spatchcock turkey prep collage
  • Combine olive oil, smoked paprika and black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Rub the turkey with the mixture and allow it to come to room temperature for an hour or two, then cook at 450 degrees for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs registers 175 degrees or the breasts register at 160 degrees. Remove from heat, cover loosely with foil, and let stand for 20-30 minutes before carving.

How to check the temperature of a turkey

How to take the temperature of a turkey collage
  • Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thighs without touching bone. The turkey is done when the thighs register at 175 degrees. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests.
  • Insert the thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, parallel to the turkey and toward the neck, without touching bone. The turkey is done when the breasts register at 160 degrees. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests.

FAQs

Why do they call it spatchcock?

The origin of the word spatchcock is up for debate, but from what I’ve read it may be an Irish term.  The dictionary definition says that the word simply means to split open a game bird for grilling.  
Splitting open a bird is done by removing the backbone so that it lays flat, which is also known as butterflying.

Why do you spatchcock a turkey?

A spatchcock, or butterflied turkey will cook much more quickly and evenly because the bird is laying flat.
A 12 – 14 pound turkey will cook in under 90 minutes, the skin will be perfectly golden brown and crispy, and the turkey is nice and juicy every single time.

How long does it take to spatchcock a turkey?

It takes about 5 minutes to spatchcock a turkey with nice sharp kitchen sheers. If you’d rather not do it yourself, simply ask your butcher to do it for you. Be sure to request the giblets and backbone for stock and gravy.

Does a spatchcock turkey cook faster?

A spatchcock turkey cooks much more quickly. Because the turkey is laying flat, the heat is more evenly distributed and the turkey is done in an 1 – 1.5 hours depending on the size.

Can you stuff a spatchcock turkey?

If you spatchcock your turkey, you will not be able to stuff it. 

Where do you put the thermometer in spatchcock turkey?

Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh or breast without touching bone. When the thighs register at 175 and the breasts register at 160 degrees, the turkey is done. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests.

Recipe notes

  • Nutrition information is based on a 12 lb. turkey.
  • Pro tip:  Ask your butcher to spatchcock your turkey for you and reserve the backbone and giblets for you for turkey stock and gravy.
  • Cooking time will vary based on the size of your turkey.  If your turkey is 12 lbs. or smaller, it may take only 1 hour to cook.  If it’s 14 lbs. or larger it could take anywhere between an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.  I suggest checking the turkey for doneness after one hour and going from there, as oven temperatures do vary.
  • Due to the high temperature, the turkey will be nice and brown after 20-30 minutes or so, and should be loosely covered with foil during the remainder of the roasting time.
  • Customize your turkey with your favorite seasonings, fresh herbs or citrus.
Spatchcock turkey on a white serving platter

See all of my Thanksgiving recipes.

What to serve with spatchcock turkey:

If you made this recipe I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or rating below or tag me @flavorthemoments on Instagram!

Spatchcock turkey on serving plate with herbs and pomegranate

Perfect Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey is butterflied for the most evenly cooked, juicy turkey ever. It's got the crispiest skin ever and cooks up in under an hour and a half!  
0
reviews

Leave a Review »

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 12-14 lb. turkey spatchcocked*
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika may substitute with regular paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Spatcock the turkey: Remove the giblets from the turkey. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and place on a cutting board breast side down. Using sharp kitchen sheers, cut along either side of the backbone to remove.
  • Using a paring knife, cut along the tip of the breast bone to make it easier to flatten the turkey. Flip the turkey over and place both hands over the center of the turkey breast and press down firmly to flatten. PRO TIP: If you'd rather not do this yourself, ask your butcher to spatchcock the turkey for you.
    How to spatchcock a turkey collage
  • Dry brine the turkey: Loosen the skin over the turkey breast using your hand, being careful not to tear it. Rub the turkey breast with some of the kosher salt, then sprinkle the remaining salt over both sides of the turkey. You may need more than 1 tablespoon of salt if your turkey is larger than 14 pounds.
  • Place the turkey on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the refrigerator uncovered for 1-3 days.
    How to dry brine a turkey collage
  • Prep the turkey: Combine the olive oil, smoked paprika and black pepper in a small bowl and stir well to combine.
  • Rub the evenly with the paprika mixture (no additional salt is needed due to the dry brine), and tuck the wings under the turkey. Let stand 1-2 hours at room temperature before cooking.
    Spatchcock turkey prep collage
  • Position the oven rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees for 1 – 1.5 hours depending on the size of your turkey (check for doneness after 1 hour). Cover the turkey loosely with foil after 20-30 minutes or once it has browned.
  • The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs without touching bone registers at 175 degrees, or the thickest part of the breast registers at 160 degrees. Remove from heat and allow to rest loosely covered with foil for about 20-30 minutes before carving (the turkey will continue to cook as it rests). Carve and enjoy!
    How to take the temperature of a turkey collage

Notes

  • Nutrition information is based on a 12 lb. turkey.
  • Pro tip:  Ask your butcher to spatchcock your turkey for you and reserve the backbone and giblets for you for turkey stock and gravy.
  • Cooking time will vary based on the size of your turkey.  If your turkey is 12 lbs. or smaller, it may take only 1 hour to cook.  If it’s 14 lbs. or larger it could take anywhere between an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.  I suggest checking the turkey for doneness after one hour and going from there, as oven temperatures do vary.
  • Due to the high temperature, the turkey will be nice and brown after 20-30 minutes or so, and should be loosely covered with foil during the remainder of the roasting time.
  • Customize your turkey with your favorite seasonings, fresh herbs or citrus.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g, Calories: 503kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 74g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 245mg, Sodium: 381mg, Potassium: 762mg, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 209IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Tried this recipe?Mention @flavorthemoments or tag #flavorthemoments!

Sharing is caring!