The Spatchcock Turkey Guide

A spatchcocked turkey will become your favorite way to cook a turkey from today forward. I break down how to do it and why it’s the best method for a perfect juicy, golden brown turkey every time.

DO YOU HAVE YOUR TURKEY YET?

We are about four days away from Thanksgiving and all set to start cooking our delicious Spatchcock Turkey. The only part I hate in the turkey cooking process is the thaw-out time. It is real. Depending on your bird’s size, you may need several days to let your turkey completely thaw in the fridge. Phew!

If you do not have your turkey by now, you need to get it tonight to begin that process. Otherwise, you are left playing a risky game with temperature, trying to thaw it out in the sink. I mean, it does work. Hell, even I’ve used that method before. But I would say that the refrigerator method is probably the safest, although the most time-consuming.

Source: Foodsafety.gov

No matter what, never leave your turkey out on the counter to thaw. You do not want any part of the turkey to be between 40°F to 140°F for longer than two hours. It increases the chances of unsafe levels of bacteria to develop.

The Spatchcocked Turkey

This year I decided to bring a refreshing twist to my spatchcock turkey recipe. I traditionally wet brine, roast, and bake my bird but not this year. This time, I followed the Serious Eats guide for dry brining and spatchcocking my turkey. Lately, I’ve been obsessing over the spatchcocking method for all of my poultry. And I am so pleased with how amazing the results so far have been. So, it only made sense that I use this method for the most important bird of the year – Thanksgiving Turkey.

 

Here are the main benefits of spatchcocking:

  • Flatter shape = even cooking throughout
  • Whole bird exposed = crispy skin all around
  • Thinner profile = drastically lower cooking time
  • Excess backbones = better gravy

Follow me as I follow the Serious East Step-By-Step to the perfect turkey. Let’s kick things off. 

 

FYI my bird was 15 lbs.

 

To cook the scrummy dry brine spatchcock turkey, I left the cooking aisle and went straight to the hardware aisle to get these heavy-duty Stanley Aviation Scissors. They may look intimidating but were so easy to use and made cutting through the bone feel like a walk in the park. I will definitely be using these again.

 

I started at the neck of the backbone to get a good grip and worked my way down on both sides. Then I broke the chest bone to get the bird flat. You will hear the bone break as you press down, which is kind of freaky. But in return, you get to enjoy finger-licking-good flattened turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. So, yay!

 

I dabbed Gloria (yes, I name my turkey’s) dry with a paper towel to get my now flattened turkey ready for my butter compote.

 

This is where I veered away from the “Serious Eats” instructions to create my very own buttery marinade for the turkey. I have an issue letting go of full seasoning control when it comes to seasonings and marinades. That’s where I shine.

 

For this turkey, I mixed unsalted butter, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, yellow curry powder, and just a bit of salt.

 

There are four main pockets that I always try to separate the skin of the turkey from the meat; they are above the breasts and thighs. Once I separate the meat from the skin in those areas, I stuff each pocket with the butter compote.

 

I left just a bit of the butter mixture out to smother it over the top of the bird. Then I laid the bird flat on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet with veggies and fresh herbs.

 

Be sure to move the oven racks down so that the turkey sits in the middle when it goes into the oven and gets this; it’s done in 80 minutes!

 

It comes out perfectly golden brown, with crispy skin and juicy meat. I don’t think I can go back to my previous preparation. This method is a winner all around.

 

If you decide to try this method to cook the spatchcocked turkey this year, leave a comment below and let me know how your turkey comes out. Do you plan to make this recipe? Be sure to tag @meikoandthedish on Instagram and hashtag it #meikoandthedish.

What is Spatchcocking?

Spatchcocking comes from the phrase “dispatch the cock” and means to split the whole bird open, breaking its backbone, and pressing its breast to flatten it. As I have mentioned in this guide’s intro, spatchcocking turkey has several benefits starting from even cooking, faster-cooking, juicier texture, easy to spruce, and tastier gravy and stuffing.

Is Spatchcock Turkey Same as Butterfly Turkey?

The process is similar, but there is a significant difference between the two. In spatchcock turkey, you split the entire bird, remove the turkey’s backbone, and flatten it from the back. However, in a butterflied turkey, you split part of the turkey meat like the breast or thigh, not the whole bird.

How to Spatchcock Turkey?

The method of spatchcocking turkey might come off as intimidating; remember, you can hear the bone break? But it is really easy to do. Plus, it saves a lot of time. So, how do you flatten the bird on a baking tray? Use hard-wearing poultry shears or the Stanley Aviation Scissors. If you have neither, invest in the pair. Trust me. It will be worth it.

 

  • Start with the chest-side down – using the scissors or shears, cut along both sides of the backbone. Be prepared for a little elbow grease. You can discard the bone, better yet, set aside to use in the gravy.
  • Now, cut in the center, along the breast bone. Flip the turkey, so it lies chest-side up, and begin to fold it apart. Press hard at the turkey breast until you hear the bone break under your palm.
  • Pull the thighs to flatten it further and cut the wing tips off.

Why Does This Method Work Better When Cooking the Perfect Turkey?

Like I said earlier, Thanksgiving turkey is the most requested bird and ought to be perfect. The method in this guide will help you get those delicious results. Both spatchcocking and dry brining offer several benefits.

 

Benefits of Spatchcocking Turkey in Detail

Spatchcocking turkey ensures that every part cooks evenly and cuts the cooking time in half. The first time I used the method, I was amazed. I would typically cook the whole turkey at 325°F to prevent overcooking and drying the outer layer. But with the split and flattened bird, I was able to cook at a higher temperature, around 450°F, and voila! Quick and easy!

 

Spatchcocking turkey also keeps the meat moist, provides a juicier texture, and crispier bites. It happens because once the turkey flattens, all the skin faces upward, keeping skin at the bottom exposed and allowing uninterrupted dry heat to reach it.

 

You can even stuff the flattened turkey. Okay, it won’t actually be stuffed into your turkey. However, you will still be able to enjoy flavorful and plentiful stuffing. Simply lay the turkey on top of the stuffing ingredients. The turkey drippings will help you prepare a gravy that is superior in taste. You can also use the discarded bone to enrich the flavors.

Benefits of Cooking a Dry Brined Turkey

Dry brining makes cooking spatchcock turkey a simple task by eliminating the fuss of measuring adequate water, dissolving salt and sugar, and using more space. A dry brine also yields a richer and intense taste by imparting flavor directly into the turkey because of the closer binding between the meat and spice mixture.

What Size Turkey Should I Buy?

Turkey’s math is easy. You can calculate how much you will want for each guest. Typically, you can count one pound of turkey for each adult and half a pound for each child. In case you want ample leftovers or a little extra for just-in-case scenarios, plan on one and a half pounds for every adult guest, and three-quarters for every child. This site will help you get the right estimate on what size turkey you should buy.

How to Thaw Turkey?

According to USDA recommendation, you give every four pounds of turkey 24 hours to defrost the bird inside the refrigerator. You can also take the turkey out and quicken the process significantly but that is less safe and

How Long to Cook Turkey?

The cooking time depends on how big the bird is, how cold it is, what the temperature of the oven is, and whether you stuffed it.

 

Depending on them, there is a general rule to how long you should cook a turkey. It says to cook 15 minutes for every pound for an unstuffed turkey that is at 325°F. So, if you were wondering how long to cook 13 lbs. turkey, given that you are cooking it at 325°F, it will take 3.25 hours. On applying the same logic, how long to cook a 15 lbs. turkey? 3.75 hours.

 

When you decide to stuff the turkey with delicious ingredients and spices, the thumb rule will change to 20 minutes per pound.

 

When cooking a spatchcocked turkey, cooking time will also depend on the type of pan you use. Since you will be able to cook it at higher temperatures, the turkey will take less time to prepare. The 13- and 15-pounders will cook between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes.

 

In any case, I strongly recommend you check the recipe and thermometer to ensure the turkey is done.

What Temperature Do You Cook A Turkey At?

When cooking a turkey the traditional method, keep the temperature at 325°F to 350°F. Higher temperatures will dry the bird and overcook it. But if your turkey is split and flattened, cook it at 450°F for 20 to 25 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 400°F and roast until all parts of the turkey until the breast’s internal temperature is 150°F and thighs are 165°F.

The Spatchcock Turkey Guide

Use this spatchock method to achieve thanksgiving turkey perfection with golden, crispy skin and juicy tender meat.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

Turkey

  • 12-15 lbs Turkey
  • 3 onions roughly chopped
  • 1 lb pack of baby carrots or 3 carrots roughly chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh herb poultry pack thyme, rosemary, sage

Turkey Butter Compote

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt (you can omit salt if using a salt brined turkey

Instructions

  • In your oven, adjust the racks down. This way, when you place the turkey inside, it will sit right in the middle. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • In a medium bowl, add butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, curry powder, Cajun seasoning, and salt (if needed). Use a spoon to stir all the components together until you reach a smooth consistency.
  • Spatchcock your turkey by placing it chest-down. Using heavy-duty scissors or a sharp knife, remove the backbone (you can preserve the excess bone to make a broth for the gravy).
  • Flip the bird over, so it is lying chest up, and the cavity is flat to the surface. Use both hands to press down on the upper chest plate until you hear the bone fracture. It helps the turkey lay flat.
  • Use your hands to separate the turkey’s skin from the meat over the two breasts and two thighs. After creating a pocket of space, add in some of your butter compote inside those four pockets. Reserve enough of the butter mixture to cover the outside of the bird as well.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, with a wire rack, add your fresh herbs and vegetables. Then place the turkey on top of the wire rack with the chest up.
  • Place turkey in the oven to roast. Make sure to rotate the pan every 20 minutes. The turkey will cook for approximately 80 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 150°F and at the thighs registers at least 165°F.
  • When the Thanksgiving spatchcock turkey is ready, pull it from the oven and let it cool or 20 minutes undisturbed.
Tried this recipe?Mention @MeikoAndTheDish or tag #MeikoAndTheDish

Notes

Tools
Baking Sheet with Wire Rack
Heavy Duty Aviation Scissors

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

**The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

DO YOU HAVE YOUR TURKEY YET?

We are about 4 day out from Thanksgiving. The only party I hate in the turkey cooking process is the thaw out time. It’s real. Depending on the size of your bird you may need several days to let your turkey completely thaw out in the fridge. If you don’t have your turkey by now you need to get it tonight to begin that process.

Otherwise you are left playing a risky game with temperature trying to thaw it out in the sink. I mean, its certainly been done, hell even I’ve used that method before. But I would say that the refrigerator method is probably the safest although the most time consuming.

source: Foodsafety.gov

No matter what, never leave your turkey out on the counter to thaw. If any part of the turkey falls between of 40°F to 140°F for longer than two hours, it increases the chances for unsafe levels of bacteria to develop.

The Spatchcocked Turkey

This year I decided to take a different approach to cooking my turkey. I normally wet brine, roast and bake my turkey but instead I followed the SeriousEats guide for dry brining and spatchcocking my turkey. This year I’ve been obsessed with the spatchcocking method for all of my poultry and I am so pleased with how amazing it always turns out. It only made sense to use this method for the most important bird of the year.

Here are the main benefits of spatchcoking

  1. Flatter shape = even cooking throughout
  2. Whole bird exposed = crispy skin all around
  3. Thinner profile = drastically lower cooking time
  4. Excess backbones = better gravy

Follow me as I follow the Serious East Step-By-Step to the perfect turkey. Let’s kick things off. FYI my bird was about 15lbs.

I used left the cooking aisle and went straight to the hardware aisle to get these heavy-duty Stanley Aviation Scissors. They may look intimidating but they were so easy to use and made cutting through the bone line a walk in the park. I will definitely be using these again.

I started at the at the neck of the back bone to get a good grip and worked my way down on both sides.

Then I broke the chest bone to get the bird flat. You will actually hear the bone break as you press down which is kind of freaky.

Then I dabbed Gloria dry with a paper towel to get her ready for my butter compote.

This is where veered away from the “Serious Eats” instructions in order to create my own buttery marinade for the turkey. I have an issue letting go of full seasoning control when it comes to seasonings and marinades. That’s where I shine.

For this turkey I mixed unsalted butter, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, yellow curry powder and just a bit of salt.

There are four main pockets that I always try to separate the skin of the turkey from the mea; they are, above each breast and above each thigh.

Once I separate the meat from the skin in those areas I stuff each pocket with the dry herb and butter compote.

I left just a bit of the butter mixture out in order to smother it over the top of the bird.

Then I laid the bird flat on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet with veggies and fresh herbs,

Be sure to move the oven racks down so that turkey sits in the middle when it goes into the oven and get this; its done in 80 minutes!!!

It comes out perfectly golden brown, with crispy skin and juicy meat. I don’t think I can go back to my previous preparation. This method is a winner all around.

If you decide to try this method leave a comment below and let me know how your turkey comes out. Do you plan to make this recipe? Be sure to tag @meikoandthedish on instagram and hashtag it #meikoandthedish.

Recipe

The Spatchcock Turkey Guide

Use this spatchock method to achieve thanksgiving turkey perfection with golden, crispy skin and juicy tender meat.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

Turkey

  • 12-15 lbs Turkey
  • 3 onions roughly chopped
  • 1 lb pack of baby carrots or 3 carrots roughly chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh herb poultry pack thyme, rosemary, sage

Turkey Butter Compote

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt (you can omit salt if using a salt brined turkey

Instructions

  • In your oven, adjust the racks down. This way, when you place the turkey inside, it will sit right in the middle. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • In a medium bowl, add butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, curry powder, Cajun seasoning, and salt (if needed). Use a spoon to stir all the components together until you reach a smooth consistency.
  • Spatchcock your turkey by placing it chest-down. Using heavy-duty scissors or a sharp knife, remove the backbone (you can preserve the excess bone to make a broth for the gravy).
  • Flip the bird over, so it is lying chest up, and the cavity is flat to the surface. Use both hands to press down on the upper chest plate until you hear the bone fracture. It helps the turkey lay flat.
  • Use your hands to separate the turkey’s skin from the meat over the two breasts and two thighs. After creating a pocket of space, add in some of your butter compote inside those four pockets. Reserve enough of the butter mixture to cover the outside of the bird as well.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, with a wire rack, add your fresh herbs and vegetables. Then place the turkey on top of the wire rack with the chest up.
  • Place turkey in the oven to roast. Make sure to rotate the pan every 20 minutes. The turkey will cook for approximately 80 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 150°F and at the thighs registers at least 165°F.
  • When the Thanksgiving spatchcock turkey is ready, pull it from the oven and let it cool or 20 minutes undisturbed.
Tried this recipe?Mention @MeikoAndTheDish or tag #MeikoAndTheDish

Notes

Tools
Baking Sheet with Wire Rack
Heavy Duty Aviation Scissors

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

**The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Meet Meiko

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Welcome! I’m Meiko, a Dallas-based food blogger who loves to share life and culture through food. There are no strangers around these parts only good eats. Let’s get to know each other better!

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