Spatchcocking a Whole Turkey

Harissa spatchcocked turkey
Harissa Spatchcocked Turkey

Spatchcocking a whole turkey is increasing in popularity as consumers look for more efficient ways to prepare their favorite meals.

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 spatchcocked turkey is sure to please the whole crowd.

Don’t let that extra effort of spatchcocking (or the funny name) intimidate you. 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 bird 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.

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.

It’s tough work, but take your time, and the results will be well-worth the effort!

How do I spatchcock a turkey?

To spatchcock turkey, we recommend using kitchen shears to remove the backbone. A sharp knife or meat cleaver can alternatively be used.

Spatchcocking turkey raw
Spatchcocked Turkey, Backbone removed

How should I cook my spatchcocked 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.

Spatchcocked turkey on a grill
Rosemary Lemon Grilled Turkey

If you want to roast a spatchcocked turkey in the oven, we recommend setting your oven at 400°F. A spatchcocked 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 spatchcocked turkey recipes worth a try:

How long does it take for a spatchcocked turkey to cook?

A spatchcocked whole turkey will cook more quickly than a standard bird. Depending on the size of the bird, cook times are estimated between 1-1.5 hours.

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.

Are there any helpful tips for a first-timer?

Safety first! Cutting gloves can help lessen the risk of cutting yourself.

Spatchcocking requires a bit of elbow grease, so don’t hesitate to recruit the family to get in on the fun.

If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge, ask your butcher to spatchcock a turkey for you.

Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling the raw turkey. Sanitize surfaces and tools used during the process.