When you spatchcock a turkey you get the juiciest, crispiest roast turkey cooked in a fraction of the time it usually takes to cook a whole turkey. If you’ve never tried it, spatchcocking is easier than you might think! By removing the backbone and flattening out the bird, you’ll reduce cooking time and make carving a whole lot easier, too! Once you try it, you might never go back.
Never made a spatchcocked turkey for Thanksgiving? This is your year. Spatchcocking a turkey results in a wonderfully juicy and evenly cooked bird in a fraction of the time.
What Does ‘Spatchcock’ Mean?
To “spatchcock” means to remove a bird’s backbone so that it will lay flat while cooking. This method (also known as butterflying) ensures even cooking, juicier meat, and a quicker cooking time. Why? All the turkey parts are exposed to the same amount of heat for the same duration of time, so you don’t have to wait around for the thighs to finish cooking while the breast gets dry.
Spatchcock Turkey Ingredients
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this absolutely amazing roasted spatchcock turkey:
- Turkey: This recipe calls for a 10-pound whole turkey. If your bird is larger or smaller, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time.
- Oil: Olive oil is rubbed all over the turkey before cooking to keep the meat moist and juicy. Plus, it gives the herbs and seasonings something to stick to.
- Herbs: Fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme add herbaceous and earthy flavor.
- Seasonings: Right before cooking, the turkey is finished with a simple sprinkling of salt and black pepper.
How to Spatchcock a Turkey
It’s easier than you think to spatchcock a turkey. You’ll find the step-by-step instructions below, but here’s a brief overview of what you can expect:
- Remove the backbone: Place the turkey, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Use sharp kitchen shears to cut along one side of the backbone. Repeat on the other side. Discard the backbone or reserve it for making stock.
- Break the breastbone: Use the palm of your hand to press firmly onto the breastbone until you hear a crack. Flatten the spatchocked turkey as much as possible.
How to Cook a Spatchcocked Turkey
Once the turkey is spatchcocked, it’s a pretty straightforward process. Again, you’ll find the full recipe below — but here’s a quick preview:
Place the turkey on a roasting rack and rub it all over with oil. Season with sage, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast in a preheated oven for about 90 minutes, rotating every 30 minutes. Increase the temperature and continue roasting until the skin is crispy and golden.
How Long to Cook a Spatchcock Turkey
This recipe should result in a perfectly cooked 10-pound turkey after about an hour and 45 minutes of roasting. You’ll need to adjust the roasting time for larger or smaller birds.
Of course, you’ll need to take the turkey’s internal temperature before serving. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 165 degrees F.
Nicole’s Best Spatchcock Turkey Tips
“When you use this method, there’s no waking up at 6 a.m. to get the turkey in the oven,” according to culinary producer Nicole McLaughlin (a.k.a. NicoleMcMom). “It only takes a couple of hours and dinner is served.” Here are a few of her favorite tips for making a roasted spatchcock turkey:
- It’s not hard to spatchcock a turkey yourself, according to Nicole, but you can always ask a butcher to do it for you.
- Don’t throw away the backbone of your turkey! Use it to make gravy or homemade turkey stock.
- Use a paper towel to make sure the turkey is nice and dry before you add the olive oil and seasonings. This will ensure perfectly crispy skin.
Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise
“I love making a turkey this way,” says Sue. “I place my turkey on a bed of thickly sliced onions and celery placed on the bottom of the baking sheet instead of on a rack. I also add just a bit of chicken broth to the pan.”
“I had to wrestle a little bit to get the backbone out, but it’s worth it,” according to Debra Stevens. “Juicy white meat that the family raved about.”
“The skin was perfectly crisp and I was super stoked that I was able to make the gravy in advance with the backbone and neck,” raves Allrecipes Allstar Elizabeth. “This is my new favorite way to make my bird!!”
- 1 (10 pound) whole turkey
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place a roasting rack on a baking sheet.
Place turkey, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Using a pair of sharp heavy-duty kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone.
- Repeat on the other side of the backbone. Remove backbone and reserve for making turkey stock for gravy.
- Press firmly down onto both sides of turkey to flatten.
- Flip turkey breast-side up and put on the roasting rack. Tuck wing tips under turkey (behind breast). Pat skin dry and rub olive oil over entire turkey. Season with sage, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
Roast in the preheated oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet every 30 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and continue to roast until skin is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
- Remove turkey from the oven, cover loosely with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.