How-To Spatchcock a Turkey

Are you ready for the BEST way to cook your turkey evenly and in less time? A spatchcock turkey is the answer!

More commonly known as butterflying, spatchcocking is a quicker route to a beautiful, delicious turkey for the holidays – or really any time of year. Perfect for roasting, grilling or smoking, a spatchcock turkey is sure to please the whole crowd.

Don’t let that extra effort of spatchcocking (or the funny name) intimidate you. It’s easier than it sounds. We’ve answered some of the most pressing questions to walk you through the process below.

What is spatchcocking?

Spatchcocking is removing the backbone of a turkey and laying it flat on its cooking surface. Yep, it’s that simple! 

Why should I spatchcock my turkey?

While it is a little extra butchery work, spatchcocking a turkey helps it cook more evenly and quickly. Additionally, this method exposes all the skin at the same time, so you end up with a perfectly crispy skin and juicy meat. Take your time and the results will be well-worth the effort!

Worth mentioning are the added benefits of using the backbone to create a flavorful turkey broth or gravy. For more uses for those “extra” turkey parts, click here.

Spatchcocking turkey raw
Spatchcock turkey, backbone removed

How-to spatchcock a turkey

To spatchcock turkey, we recommend using heavy duty kitchen shears to remove the backbone. Alternatively, a sharp knife or meat cleaver can be used.

Step-by-step with Emily Dingmann, My Everyday Table: Cut out the backbone, flatten the breast and arrange on a tray for cooking.

How should I cook my turkey?

Turkey is a versatile protein that is perfect for traditional roasting, grilling and smoking.

Grilling a spatchcocked turkey is best over a two-zone grill, with direct and indirect zones. Grill your turkey on the indirect zone at a temp of about 375-400°F or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 160°F verified with a meat thermometer. Transfer your bird to the direct side (directly over the coals) to allow the skin to crisp up and cook until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165°F.

If you want to roast it in the oven, we recommend setting your oven at 400°F or higher based on the recipe. A spatchcock turkey can be brined, buttered or seasoned to your preference like a standard turkey. Roast the turkey until it reaches the proper internal temperature. Then put it under the broiler at the end to get crispy skin.

Here are a few of our favorite spatchcock turkey recipes worth a try:

How long does it to cook a spatchcock turkey?

A spatchcocked whole turkey will cook more quickly than a standard turkey. While the spatchcock turkey cooking time will depend on the size and oven temperature, 6 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb. Depending on the size of the turkey, cook times are estimated between 60-90 minutes.

To ensure doneness, we recommend verifying the internal temperature of the turkey has reached 165°F in three places: the innermost part of the thigh, breast and wing.

How-to carve a spatchcock turkey

Carving a spatchcock turkey does require a little bit of a different approach, but it’s pretty simple. After you’ve let your turkey rest for at least 20 minutes, use a sharp knife to:

Arrange everything on a large platter and tent with foil until ready to serve.

Are there any helpful tips for a first-timer?