A Spicy Perspective

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey Recipe (Roasted or Smoked!)

How to Spatchcock a Turkey – Whether you plan to roast or smoke your whole turkey, this easy Spatchcock method will reduce cooking time and produce a perfectly tender, juicy turkey.

how to spatchcock

Why Should You Spatchcock a Turkey?

First and foremost, let’s talk about what is Spatchcock Turkey…

“Spatchcock” is a specific method of preparing and cooking poultry. The Spatchcock technique is when a sharp knife is used to remove the backbone from whole poultry, thus making it possible for the chicken or turkey to be spread out, pressed down, and cooked flat.

There are several benefits to cooking your turkey using the spatchcock method:

  • Reduce Cooking Time – By flattening the turkey, heat is able to more thoroughly and quickly cook the meat. Traditionally, roasting a turkey in a 350 degree oven requires 13-14 minutes per pound to cook. When you spatchcock first, however, you only need about 8-9 minutes per pound. The difference really adds up for a 12-14 pound turkey!
  • Create a Super Crispy Skin – All of the turkey skin is in an even, upward-facing layer when you spatchcock. This means that every available inch is roasted to golden, crispy perfection.
  • Try Something New! – While we all know and love traditional roasted or smoked turkey around the holidays, there is a lot to be said for featuring a delicious bird with a unique twist.
spiced roasted whole turkey recipe

The Best Spatchcock Turkey Recipe – Roasted or Smoked!

Because spatchcocking allows the whole turkey to be smoked or roasted evenly and perfectly, you want to be sure that great flavor is in every bite.

The key to a terrific turkey is a well-seasoned brine, and a simple yet fabulous spice rub. This combination produces the juiciest meat and makes the crispy skin so incredibly flavorful.

It’s ideal to both brine and use a spice rub, but you should do at least one to your Spatchcock Turkey before cooking.

the best roasted or smoked turkey recipe

What Ingredients You Need

My favorite turkey spice rub actually smells like the holidays. Just one whiff and you’ll feel ready to pile on the sweaters and huddle around the family dinner table together!

Our fantastic Turkey Spice Rub includes:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried rosemary
  • Paprika
  • Ground nutmeg

For this Spatchcock Smoked Turkey recipe you’ll also need a 12-14 pound whole turkey (obviously important for a smoked turkey recipe…), and melted butter.

We highly recommend that you brine the turkey a full 24 hours before cooking. This will help create the absolute crispiest skin and juiciest meat!

spice rub

How to Spatchcock a Turkey

If you’ve brined the turkey, remove the bird from the brine and allow it to air dry for about 1-2 hours at room temperature before spatchcocking.

Before starting, look at the turkey carefully to determine where you see the breast meat. Then flip the turkey over and find the backbone. Use strong kitchen shears to cut alongside the backbone, from one end of the bird to the other. Then cut along the other side of the backbone to remove it completely. Keep the shears very close to the backbone as to not cut off any meat.

Pro Tip: Keep the backbone and all discarded turkey bones to make a homemade stock!

Next, open the cavity of the turkey to find the breastbone. Cut a shallow incision through the flexible bone, from one end to the other, yet not all the way through the breast meat and skin on the other side. This allows the turkey to be flattened. (See photos for reference.) 

Place the turkey breast-side-up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Push the breasts down to flatten the turkey, and pull the drumsticks down and together to create the classic spatchcock shape. If there’s no room on the baking sheet, you can leave the legs folded in their natural position.

Fold the tips of the wings backward under the breast to keep them in place.

You now have a spatchcocked turkey. Ta-da!

Get the Full (Printable) Spatchcock Smoked Turkey Recipe Below!

raw whole turkey

Roasted or Smoked Spatchcock Turkey

A fabulous roasted or smoked whole turkey is a must-have at the Thanksgiving table. By spatchcocking the bird beforehand, either cooking method you choose is sure to yield a juicy, flavorful, tender turkey with lots of wonderfully crispy skin.

Here are the simple steps for preparing a turkey after it’s been brined and spatchcocked…

First, pat the turkey totally dry with a paper towel. Then pour the melted butter over the top and rub (or brush) it over the entire surface of the turkey.

Mix together all the herbs and spices for the turkey rub, and sprinkle generously over the turkey to coat.

spice rubbed

Smoked Spatchcock Turkey: Preheat a smoker to 350 degrees F. Once hot and ready, move the turkey from the baking sheet and onto the smoker rack. Close the smoker and cook the turkey until the temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees F.

Smoking the turkey not only offers moist juicy turkey meat and crispy skin, it also provides a deep smoky flavor and frees up the oven for other holiday dishes!

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Move the racks, if needed, to allow for the height of the turkey. Once hot, place the turkey in the oven and roast until the temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees F.

For both cooking methods, be sure to place the thermometer deep into the breast. The total cooking time is determined by the size/weight of the turkey… Again, spatchcocking a turkey first will mean you only need about 8-9 minutes per pound to cook!

smoked whole turkey recipe

Allow the smoked or roasted turkey to rest for several minutes before cutting and serving.

recipe for roasted or smoked turkey

Enjoy Spatchcock Smoked (or Roasted!) Turkey for Thanksgiving with classic sides like the Best Mashed Potatoes, flavorful and fluffy stuffing, and our amazing Apple Cider Vinegar Turkey Gravy.

But seriously, who says turkey is just for Thanksgiving?

Make succulent turkey any time of the year and serve with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Lt. Dan’s Steakhouse Salad.

Whenever and however you make Spatchcock Turkey, I hope you love this method as much as we do!

spatchcocked turkey

Looking for More Fabulous Holiday Recipes?

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey Recipe (Roasted or Smoked!)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
How to Spatchcock a Turkey – Whether you plan to roast or smoke your whole turkey, this easy Spatchcock method will reduce cooking time and produce a perfectly tender, juicy turkey.
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

Turkey Rub:

Plus:

  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 12-14 pound turkey fresh or thawed

Instructions

  • If possible, brine the turkey for 24 hours before cooking. Remove the turkey from the brine and air dry for 1-2 hours. (Brining creates super moist flavorful turkey meat.)
  • Look at the turkey carefully to determine where you see the breast meat. Then flip the turkey over and find the backbone. Use strong kitchen shears to cut alongside the backbone, from one end of the bird to the other. Then cut along the other side of the backbone to remove it completely. Keep the shears very close to the backbone as to not cut off any meat.
  • Open the cavity of the turkey to find the breastbone. Now cut a shallow incision through the flexible bone, from one end to the other, yet not all the way through the breast meat and skin on the other side. This allows the turkey to be flattened. (See photos for reference.)
  • Place the turkey breast-side-up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Push the breasts down to flatten the turkey. Pull the drumsticks down and together to create the classic spatchcock shape. If there’s no room on the baking sheet, you can leave the legs folded in their natural position.
  • Fold the tips of the wings backward under the breast.
  • Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel. Then pour the melted butter over the top and rub (or brush) it over the entire surface of the turkey.
  • In a small bowl, mix all the herbs and spices for the turkey rub. Sprinkle the rub generously over the turkey.

Smoked Turkey:

  • Preheat a smoker to 350 degrees F. Once hot and ready, move the turkey off the baking sheet and onto the smoker rack. Close the smoker and cook the turkey for 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours until the temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees F. (Place the thermometer deep into the breast. The total smoking time is determined by the size/weight of the turkey.)

Roasted Turkey:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Move the racks, if needed, to allow for the height of the turkey. Once hot, place the turkey in the oven. Roast the turkey for 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours until the temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees F. (Place the thermometer deep into the breast. The total cooking time is determined by the size/weight of the turkey.)

Video

Notes

Allow the turkey to rest for at least 15 minutes, before cutting and serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1lb, Calories: 491kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 70g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 242mg, Sodium: 1558mg, Potassium: 731mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 340IU, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: dinner, Holiday, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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One comment on “Spatchcock Smoked Turkey Recipe (Roasted or Smoked!)”

  1. I wasn’t going to do this, but it was so dang successful, I just had to. Pairing this prep with the brining recipe was out of this world good. Thank you for taking the time to put it in writing.