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How to spatchcock a turkey, how to spatchcock a chicken

How to Spatchcock a Turkey

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The Ultimate Guide to Spatchcocking a Turkey (Or Any Poultry!)

Spatchcocking, also known as butterflying, is a cooking method in which the backbone of the poultry or game bird is removed and the meat is flattened. This allows for more even cooking and crisper skin. This is a technique that may seem (and sound) somewhat overwhelming, but is actually very easy to accomplish and can really elevate your Thanksgiving turkey this year!

Spatchcocking is especially great if you are pressed for time, as the spatchcock method will allow you to fully cook a 10-14 pound turkey in under 2 hours.

Keep in mind that if you are using a frozen turkey, you will need to allow time for it to thaw. A thawed turkey may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days before cooking. 


Spatchcocking a Turkey - The Basics


  • What tools do I need to spatchcock a turkey?  

    • One method of spatchcocking a turkey involves using kitchen shears to cut along either side of the backbone, then pressing down on the breastbone to flatten the bird. The best shears to spatchcock a turkey are heavy-duty and very sharp.  Make sure to clean and sanitize them after using! 
    • You can alternately use a long sharp kitchen knife to remove the backbone.  
    • Both kitchen tools have advantages, so use whichever you are more comfortable with.
  • Why spatchcock a turkey?

    • This technique is important because it results in shorter cooking times and ensures that all parts of the bird are cooked evenly. 
    • Because the spatchcock grill turkey is cooking more evenly, the turkey should turn out juicier, as you don’t have to compensate for denser areas and longer cook time. 
    • Spatchcocking also allows for more surface area for crispy, flavorful skin.  
    • If using a smoker, the increased surface area allows more meat to be exposed to the wood-fired flavor.
  • How long does it take to cook a spatchcocked turkey?

    • Because the backbone has been removed and the spatchcocked turkey lays flat, it will cook much faster than a standard turkey.  
    • Your cooking time varies depending on the size of your turkey, and your oven temperature, but 6 minutes per pound is a good guideline.  
    • Depending on the size of your turkey, this estimates cook times between 60-90 minutes.
    • Always make sure that you cook your turkey to an internal temperature of 165’.  Additionally, you should check the temperature in multiple places, such as the thigh, breast, and wing areas to ensure doneness.
  • How to carve a spatchcocked turkey?

    • Not much differently than a standard turkey!
    • Cut legs from breast, remove the drumsticks from the thigh, cut the wings from the breast and slice the breast meat.
    • You can use an electric carver, or sharp knife, whichever you have handy and are more comfortable with. 
    • Place all the pieces of the turkey on a serving platter and cover with foil until it is ready to serve.

How to Spatchcock a Turkey:

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  1. Flip the turkey so that the breast is on the cutting board and the large cavity opening is facing you. 
  2. Use kitchen shears or knife to cut along either side of the backbone so that you can remove it from the carcass. You can save the backbone, neckbone and any giblets to use for bone broth or turkey stock.  
  3. Remove any excess fat or skin from the neck and leg joints and then remove the wishbone with a small knife, cutting along either side of the bone and pulling out. 
  4. Turn the bird over so the open cavity is laying on the cutting board with the legs flipped away from each other. 
  5. Press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten the bird until you hear a cracking noise and the turkey lays flatter. 
  6. Generously season both sides of the bird with a dry rub, a brine or a marinade.  If you would like, you can separate the skin and stuff with butter, herbs, rub or marinade.  All of this will collect in the bottom of the pan and can make a great gravy later! 
  7. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, or on the grill (direct or indirect) and cook at 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Let the turkey rest for 15 minutes before service to give the turkey time to rest and redistribute it’s juices. 

Spatchcock Turkey Gravy Recipe 

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  1. Pour all of the spatchcock turkey drippings into a saucepan. 
  2. Bring this liquid to a boil
  3. Whisk in a thickening agent such as flour or cornstarch to thicken.
  4. Simmer until it has reached desired thickness. 
  5. If the gravy becomes too thick, you can add water or more stock to thin it out.  
  6. Add any additional spices or herbs that you would like.

Tips for Spatchcocking a Turkey:

  • Be careful!  Your knife or kitchen shears should be sharp, and you should firmly grasp the turkey as you cut into it to ensure that your hands do not slip. 
  • Always make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly any time you handle the raw turkey.  You should also ensure that your workstation and tools are sanitized during the spatchcocking process.
  • Be sure to remove the backbone completely for even cooking and crispier skin. (Arguably the best part of the turkey!)
    • Salt on the skin can help to maximize the crispiness! Don't be afraid to season your turkey on both sides,  generously before cooking.
    • Refrigerating your raw turkey overnight can help to achieve the crispiest skin possible.  Simply place the turkey in the fridge overnight, and uncovered, to allow the skin to air dry.
  • Keep an eye on the internal temperature to ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly, but not overcooked.  The thermometer should reach 165’ to be fully cooked. 
  • If the thought of preparing a turkey this way gives you anxiety, ask your local butcher if they are able to spatchcock it for you!
  • Save the giblets, and any bones or skin that you removed to make bone broth or stock for soup or gravy. 

Spatchcock Turkey Recipes From Around the Web

Sides to Serve Alongside your Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcocking is a great technique to try for your next holiday turkey or for any type of poultry dish. Give it a try and enjoy the perfectly cooked and crispy results!

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