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Spatchcock Turkey Recipe | Easy Thanksgiving Turkey

by Capri Lilly

No more spending hours in the kitchen to cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey! This spatchcock turkey recipe will quickly become your favorite way to cook a whole turkey! Spatchcock Turkey involves removing the backbone from the turkey and roasting it flat. In less than 2 hours you have a fully-cooked, tender, juicy turkey ready to serve!

Don’t worry! Making a roasted spatchcock turkey is easier than you think. We’ll show you step-by-step how to make a spatchcock turkey and share tips so that it turns out perfectly! (You can always ask your butcher to remove the backbone of the turkey to save yourself even more time!)

Spatchcock Butterfly Turkey

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Spatchcocking is actually one of the first cooking methods I learned in culinary school. Learning this technique was has honestly been heaven-sent! I mean, you can roast a whole chicken, turkey, or duck and get the perfect crispy crust and flavorful, tender meat in a fraction of the time. What is not to love!?

Thanksgiving Turkey

When hosting Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey is usually the centerpiece and that comes with a lot of expectations and pressure! Making a whole turkey can be quite intimidating and generally takes hours of prep and longer hours to cook.

HOWEVER, that is NOT THE CASE when you make a spatchcocked turkey. This method is an easy, foolproof, no-stress way to cook a whole turkey, meaning there is no basting with a syringe, cooking the turkey upside down, stuffing the cavity with all you can think of, or anything strange involved!

Spatchcocking turkey is a complete gamechanger, saving you a ton of time so you can focus on the beauty of Thanksgiving: spending quality time with loved ones and friends.

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

What is a Spatchcock Turkey?

Spatchcocking turkey involves removing the backbone from the turkey and roasting it flat, which exposes it to more heat and cuts the cooking time by more than half. (You can always ask your butcher to remove the backbone of the turkey to save yourself even more time!)

It also allows you to put any seasonings, brine, or marinade under the skin of the turkey. So, instead of putting all the flavor and seasoning on the outside of the turkey and pocking holes or just hoping the flavor seeps through, you can put any seasonings or marinades directly on the meat. When roasted, the turkey comes out with a PERFECT, GOLDEN, CRISPY crust and TENDER, JUICY, FLAVORFUL meat.

You’re probably wondering, “Is spatchcocking a turkey better?”. The answer is YES! You’ll love spatchcock turkey and here’s why:

  • It saves you a ton of time! The turkey cooks in less than 90 minutes.
  • It Doesn’t Dry Out! Cooks evenly and gives you tender, moist meat (no more dry turkey breast!)
  • It has the perfect crispy skin. The skin becomes deliciously golden and crispy while cooking.
  • It takes up less oven space. Because it cooks flat, it doesn’t take up all your oven space, which means, you can cook your favorite thanksgiving side dishes while roasting your turkey!
Ingredients to make dry-brined spatchcock turkey: Whole Turkey and dry bring: seasonings, salt and fresh herbs

Let’s Make Spatchcock Turkey!

Below is a step-by-step guide with pictures, answers to common questions, and tips to make your turkey perfectly!

What You Need To Make A Spatchcock turkey

  • A Whole Turkey: Use a turkey that is between 12-14 pounds (any bigger and the turkey may not fit flat on the roasting pan or tray). Make sure the turkey is thawed, and its neck and giblets are removed.
  • Dry Brine: A dry brine is simply a mix of salt and seasonings rubbed on the turkey that helps tenderize and flavor the turkey. It then is placed in the fridge for at least 12 hours as the brine tenderizes the turkey.
  • Sharp Kitchen Shears: Using sharp poultry or kitchen sheers will make removing the breastbone very easy. Use kitchen shears like these for the best results.
  • Large Knife and Boning Knife: Sharp knives help with breaking and/or removing the cartilage and rib bones. This is the boning knife I use: Mercer Culinary Boning Knife | Amazon.
  • Large Baking Sheet and Wire Rack: It is best to roast a spatchcock turkey on a shallow baking sheet with a wire rack for the best results. A large baking sheet, like this one, should hold up to a 14-pound turkey.
  • Instant Thermometer: Check the temerpature of the turkey is the best way to check the donenes of the turkey and ensure it is properly cooked. This instant thermometer is less than $10 and works well: Meat Thermometer | Amazon.
image steps for how to spatchcock a turkey

How To Spatchcock A Turkey (Butterfly Turkey)

  1. Remove the backbone. Using kitchen shears, cut along the backbone from the tail to the neck. Cut along both sides of the backbone until it is removed completely. You can save the backbone to make stock or throw it away. PRO TIP: Be sure to use sharp poultry shears or kitchen shears. It will make removing the backbone much easier.
  2. Break the breastbone. Now, flip the turkey over and break the breastbone to flatten the bird. There are two ways to do this:
    1. Easy Method: Make a small cut in the cartilage between the breast bone. Using your palms, press on both sides of the breast bone. Using your full bodyweight press down to crack the bone all the way through, breaking the rib cage. Once done, the turkey should lie completely flat.
    2. Carving Method: Using a paring knife or boning knife, cut along the cartilage and rib bones to remove it from the turkey. This way takes a bit longer but is well worth the effort.
  3. Place the turkey on a baking sheet. The spatchcock turkey is ready. The next step is to dry brine the turkey.

Congratulations! You have now spatchcocked a turkey! If you’d like to see a video on how to spatchcock, check out this video here: How To Spatchcock A Chicken. (Although this video shows a chicken, the spatchcocking process is exactly the same!) Next step: Let’s Dry Brine The Turkey!

image steps for how to dry brine turkey

Dry-Brine Spatchcock Turkey

Brining is the best way to infuse a turkey with flavor and tenderize the meat. Dry brining is much easier and less messy than wet brining. There is no need for a giant bucket, soppy water, and a large mess.

Dry Brining is essentially a mix of salt and optional seasonings and fresh herbs rubbed all over the turkey. The turkey is then put in the fridge for at least 12 hours as the salt tenderizes the meat. When it is time to roast, the turkey will be perfectly moist, tender, and full of flavor.

Tips For Dry Brining

  • Brine for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours. Because the turkey is spatchcocked, dry brining for only 12 hours is sufficient but you can always brine the turkey longer if you like.
  • Kosher salt works best or any coarse salt
  • Place the dry-brined spatchcock turkey on a large baking sheet and cover it with foil or plastic wrap before placing it in the fridge.
  • Do not rinse the turkey before roasting. (Do not worry, the turkey will not be salty)
image steps for how to roast a spatchcock turkey

How to roast a spatchcocked turkey

You’ve already done the hardest part. Roasting your spatchcock turkey is the easiest part of the process! Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Remove the turkey from the fridge. Take the turkey out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before baking. This step is crucial and helps so that the turkey cooks evenly. It generally takes 1 to 2 hours for the turkey to come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F and Prepare the garlic butter. In a small saucepan, melt 5 tablespoons of butter with fresh rosemary and garlic.
  3. Place the turkey on a large rimmed baking sheet. When spatchcocking a turkey, a shallow baking sheet works best. Place a wire rack onto the baking sheet. Then, place the sliced apple, celery, and onion on the rack. (This is completely optional but helps to give the turkey more flavor while roasting.)
    1. Place the turkey on top, skin side up. The turkey should be spread out completely and lay flat. Baste the turkey on all sides with the garlic butter. Reserve about 2 tablespoons to baste the skin later during cooking. Optional: Tuck the wings under the rib cage to prevent them from burning as the turkey cooks.
  4. Roast the turkey. Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Then, remove the turkey from the oven and baste the skin with the remaining garlic butter. Place the turkey back in the oven for an additional 40 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375°F and roast for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove the turkey and check the temperature with an instant thermometer.
    1. An 11-pound spatchcock turkey generally takes 70-75 minutes
    2. A 12-pound spatchcock turkey generally takes 80-85 minutes
    3. A 14-pound spatchcock turkey generally takes 90-95 minutes
  5. Rest The Turkey. After roasting the turkey, let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. This will allow time for the juices from the turkey will be reabsorbed back into the meat. If you cut the turkey without resting, you’ll lose all the flavorful juices and they will be left on the carving board.
  6. Carve and Enjoy! Serve as a beautiful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner with your favorite side dishes.
roasted spatchcock turkey fresh out of the oven
Spatchcock Turkey Fresh Out Of The Oven

Common Questions

What size turkey is best for spatchcocking?

A 12-14 pound turkey is best for spatchcocking. Any bigger and it may not fit on a baking sheet or roasting pan. If you are roasting a larger turkey, more cooking time may be needed. Always use a thermometer to check the doneness of your turkey.

Why would you spatchcock a turkey?

Spatchcocking a turkey saves a ton of time, reducing the cooking time to less than 2 hours! It also is a foolproof way to make evenly cooked, tender, juicy turkey.

How long to cook a spatchcock turkey?

  • An 11-pound spatchcock turkey generally takes 70-75 minutes
  • A 12-pound spatchcock turkey generally takes 80-85 minutes
  • A 14-pound spatchcock turkey generally takes 90-95 minutes
juicy spatchcock turkey breast carved

Keys To Making The Perfect, Juicy Spatchcock Turkey

  • Buy Quality Turkey: I like to buy my meat from Butcher Box. Their cattle are pasture-raised, grass-fed and finished, and never injected with hormones, antibiotics, or steroids! What I love most about Butcher Box is its dedication to providing high-quality, humanely raised meat while treating the animals and the planet with respect! Check Out Butcher Box Here and get the exclusive GFB Discount.
  • Do Not Rinse The Brine. The brine tenderizes the turkey and provides it with a ton of flavor. Do not worry, the turkey will not be salty once cooked.
  • Timing and Temperature. The most important key is to not overcook the turkey, which is what dries out the turkey. The key here is timing and using an instant thermometer. A spatchcock turkey generally takes 1 and a half hours to cook. When you think the turkey is ready, use an instant thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the turkey breast. The thermometer should reach 165°F. If it reads 160°F, take the turkey out of the oven and tent it with foil. It will continue to cook while it is covered and reach the fully cooked temperature of 165°F. 
  • Let The Turkey Rest. After roasting the turkey, let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. This will allow time for the juices from the turkey will be reabsorbed back into the meat. If you cut the turkey without resting, you’ll lose all the flavor juices and they will be left on the carving board.
spatchcock turkey served with homemade cranberry sauce

Thanksgiving side dishes to serve with your turkey.

Here are a few of my favorite side dishes to serve with turkey on Thanksgiving (all gluten-free!):

thanksgiving turkey

I hope you enjoy this Spatchcock Turkey recipe


If you try the recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below! Take pictures, tag #goodfoodbaddie, and share them with me on Instagram! I love seeing my recipes come to life in your kitchen.

More Poultry Recipes To Try:

the best spatchcock turkey
Print Recipe
5 from 29 votes

Spatchcock Turkey Recipe (Dry Brined Spatchcock Turkey)

No more spending hours in the kitchen to cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey! This spatchcock turkey recipe will quickly become your favorite way to cook a whole turkey! Spatchcock Turkey involves removing the backbone from the turkey and roasting it flat. In less than 2 hours you have a fully-cooked, tender, juicy turkey ready to serve!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Gluten-Free
Keyword: butterfly turkey, dry brine, gluten-free, spatchcock turkey, thanksgiving, turkey
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 357kcal
Author: Capri Lilly

Ingredients

  • 12-14 lb Turkey, giblets and neck removed (defrosted if frozen)

For The Dry Brine

  • 4 tbsp Kosher Salt Or Coarse Grain Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tbsp Freshly Crushed Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 3 tbsp Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Zest
  • 2 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 2 tsp Smoked Paprika

For Roasting The Turkey

  • 1 Large apple, sliced
  • 1 Small onion, sliced
  • 3 Stalks celery, roughly chopped

For The Garlic Butter For Basting

  • 5 tbsp Butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary

Instructions

Spatchcock The Turkey

  • Remove the backbone. Using kitchen shears, cut along the backbone from the tail to the neck. Cut along both sides of the backbone until it is removed completely. You can save the backbone piece to make stock or throw it away.
  • Break the breastbone. Now, flip the turkey over and break the breastbone to flatten the bird. There are two ways to do this:
    Easy Method: Make a small cut in the cartilage between the breast bone. Using your palms, press on both sides of the breast bone. Using your full bodyweight press down to crack the bone all the way through, breaking the rib cage. Once done, the turkey should lie completely flat.
    Carving Method: Using a paring knife or boning knife, cut along the cartilage and rib bones to remove it from the turkey. This way takes a bit longer but is well worth the effort.
  • Place the turkey on a baking sheet. The spatchcock turkey is ready for brining.

Dry Brine The Spatchcock Turkey

  • Mix the ingredients for the dry brine in a small bowl. Then, rub the mixture all over the turkey, making sure to get under the skin.
  • Cover the turkey with foil or plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Allow it to brine for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours. (12 hours is sufficient for a spatchcocked turkey)

Roasting The Turkey

  • Remove the turkey from the fridge. Take the turkey out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before baking. It generally takes 1 to 2 hours for the turkey to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and Prepare the garlic butter. In a small saucepan, melt 5 tablespoons of butter with fresh rosemary and garlic.
  • Place the turkey on a large rimmed baking sheet. Place a wire rack onto the baking sheet. Then, place the sliced apple, celery, and onion on the rack. (This is completely optional but helps to give the turkey more flavor while roasting.)
    Place the turkey on top, skin side up. The turkey should be spread out completely and lay flat. Baste the turkey on all sides with the garlic butter. Reserve about 2 tbsp to baste later during cooking. Optional: Tuck the wings under the rib cage to prevent them from burning as the turkey cooks.
  • Roast the turkey. Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Then, remove the turkey from the oven and baste it with the remaining garlic butter. Place the turkey back in the oven for an additional 40 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375°F and roast for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove the turkey and check the temperature with an instant thermometer.
  • Rest The Turkey. After roasting the turkey, let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. This will allow time for the juices from the turkey will be reabsorbed back into the meat. If you cut the turkey without resting, you’ll lose all the flavor juices and they will be left on the carving board.
  • Carve and Enjoy! Serve as a beautiful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner with your favorite side dishes.

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54 comments

Colleen November 5, 2021 - 10:48 pm

5 stars
Lots of great tips here, thanks!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 6, 2021 - 4:56 pm

You’re welcome, Colleen!

Reply
Oscar November 5, 2021 - 10:54 pm

5 stars
Such a quick and easier way to make a turkey. Going to try this for thanksgiving. Thank you.

Reply
Capri Lilly November 6, 2021 - 4:57 pm

Hi Oscar! It truly is! I hope you enjoy!

Reply
Sabrina November 6, 2021 - 12:54 am

5 stars
What a great dry brine mixture, love those flavours together.

Reply
Capri Lilly November 6, 2021 - 4:57 pm

Thank you Sabrina! I am glad you like!

Reply
Addie November 6, 2021 - 2:38 am

5 stars
Such a great way to make turkey! Yum!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 6, 2021 - 4:58 pm

So glad you like Addie!

Reply
Andrea White November 6, 2021 - 4:09 am

5 stars
very unique! thanks for the helpful recipe!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 6, 2021 - 4:59 pm

Hi Andrea! You’re very welcome!

Reply
Kristina November 6, 2021 - 1:09 pm

5 stars
This sounds great for Thanksgiving!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 6, 2021 - 4:57 pm

Definitely! Its such an easier way to make turkey

Reply
Mama Maggie's Kitchen November 7, 2021 - 1:14 am

5 stars
This looks insanely, incredibly good. Sooo yummy!

Reply
Amy November 7, 2021 - 2:35 am

5 stars
2 hour turkey?? I’m in!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 9, 2021 - 2:51 am

Right! Hope you enjoy! 🙂

Reply
Dennis November 7, 2021 - 4:19 pm

5 stars
what a delicious way to cook a turkey! I tried it on a chicken as a test run and it came out amazing!!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 9, 2021 - 2:51 am

I am so glad to hear it! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

Reply
Stephanie November 11, 2021 - 12:14 am

5 stars
My family is going to love this! Thank you for the recipe.

Reply
Capri Lilly November 11, 2021 - 2:55 am

You’re welcome! Hope you all enjoy the recipe!

Reply
Jessica November 11, 2021 - 3:40 pm

5 stars
I’ve never spatchcocked a turkey before and now I will never do it any other way. Thank you for all of the tips, you’ve saved me this holiday season!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 11, 2021 - 5:19 pm

Hi Jessica, I am so so happy to hear that! I am all about time-saving, flavorful dishes! Thanksgiving turkey can be such a challenge, but spatchcocked turkey makes it MUCH easier!

Reply
Marta November 12, 2021 - 12:09 am

5 stars
Spatchcocking is always the way to go! I loved the addition of the citrus and fresh herbs to the rub, too. This is a definite keeper.

Reply
Capri Lilly November 12, 2021 - 7:32 pm

I totally agree, spatchcocking is the best! I am glad you enjoyed the rub! Thanks for leaving a review!

Reply
Alexandra November 12, 2021 - 8:49 pm

5 stars
This is such a great way to prepare the turkey!

Reply
Luca November 12, 2021 - 8:54 pm

5 stars
This looks really delicious!

Reply
Tyanne November 12, 2021 - 9:41 pm

5 stars
I have never heard of spatchcooking before, but I believe this is the best way to make turkey now!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 12, 2021 - 10:02 pm

It truly is! I like frying a turkey as well, but this is a bit healthier and doesn’t involve special equipment.

Reply
Jessica November 12, 2021 - 10:14 pm

5 stars
I gave this a try ahead of Thanksgiving and it was killer. Will definitely be sharing with the fam in a couple weeks. Thanks!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 14, 2021 - 7:33 am

Glad you liked, Jessica! Thanks!

Reply
Carmy November 12, 2021 - 11:03 pm

5 stars
Love how much quicker spatchcocking the turkey is!

Reply
Oliver November 12, 2021 - 11:51 pm

5 stars
This looks like a better way to make a turkey. Saving this recipe.

Reply
Addie November 13, 2021 - 3:50 am

5 stars
This turkey is so tender and flavorful!

Reply
Kate November 13, 2021 - 5:38 pm

5 stars
By far the best turkey recipe I have ever made! Not only did my turkey turn out juicy, it was so flavorful and the skin absolutely crispy. Thank you!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 14, 2021 - 7:34 am

I am so glad to hear it, Kate!

Reply
Jamie November 14, 2021 - 10:24 am

5 stars
I love the ingredients in the brine!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 14, 2021 - 7:12 pm

Me too! They give the turkey so much flavor, right!

Reply
Robin November 14, 2021 - 10:03 pm

5 stars
I can’t believe how fast the turkey cooked! The apple gave it a wonderful sweetness.

Reply
Capri Lilly November 15, 2021 - 8:59 pm

It’s incredible right! It takes less than half the time! Thanks for leaving a review 🙂

Reply
Katrina November 15, 2021 - 3:53 am

5 stars
It was my first time cooking spatchcock turkey and it was delicious!! Thank you for sharing this recipe!!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 15, 2021 - 8:59 pm

Hi Katrina!! I am so happy to hear that and so glad you liked the recipe!

Reply
Erique November 15, 2021 - 4:05 am

5 stars
I love how quick this recipe is! I have never thought about a spatchcock turkey recipe. Now, I might make turkey year-round.

Reply
Capri Lilly November 15, 2021 - 9:03 pm

Haha, right! When it’s that easy it definitely makes you want it more! This is my fav way to prepare a whole turkey for sure.

Reply
Crystal DaCruz November 17, 2021 - 4:20 am

5 stars
Up until finding this recipe, I had only spatchcocked chicken. You took all of the guesswork out of super-intimidating task and made it easy! Great recipe! Thank you!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 17, 2021 - 5:57 pm

I am so happy to hear it! It definitely is a task that is easier than it looks! I am glad you enjoyed the recipe!

Reply
Chenée November 17, 2021 - 7:38 am

5 stars
Finally tried making a spatchcock turkey and your instructions made it so simple! I love how quickly it was done and how juicy the turkey was!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 17, 2021 - 5:58 pm

Hi Chenee! That makes me so happy! I am glad you enjoyed the recipe!

Reply
Jazz November 17, 2021 - 6:02 pm

5 stars
I tested this recipe out for our Friendsgiving and it was a hit! Will be making it again for Turkey Day!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 17, 2021 - 7:03 pm

Yess! I am glad it was a hit! Thanks for leaving a review 🙂

Reply
Rachel November 21, 2021 - 11:07 pm

5 stars
IT WAS AMAZING! I made this for our church thanksgiving today and everyone LOOOVEED ITT!! Three people asked me to send them the recipe! I’m gonna make turkey this way forever now! Thank you so much!!!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 22, 2021 - 1:15 am

Hi Rachel, I am so happy to hear that! I am glad everyone enjoyed the recipe. Thank you for sharing and leaving a review!! 🙂

Reply
Zelene November 22, 2021 - 12:00 am

Wish me luck!! This looks delicious and I will be doing it for thanksgiving, it will be my first full turkey ever so I’m a little scared but this recipe looks so good and the mix of flavors sounds perfect. Thank you !!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 22, 2021 - 1:13 am

Hi Zelene, You got this! Good luck! I hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂

Reply
Carol November 30, 2021 - 12:06 pm

5 stars
I did this to my turkey as well and it was amazing! I made a delicious soup out of it. I also was able to make a pot pie as well. This was the best recipe I have ever used. It is also great on pork!!!

Reply
Capri Lilly November 30, 2021 - 5:29 pm

Hi Carol! Thanks for leaving a review! I am so happy you enjoyed the recipe! Soup and pot pie sound delish!!

Reply

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