Roast Spatchcock Turkey Recipe (VIDEO)

If you are serving turkey this holiday season, you have got to try this roasted Spatchcock Turkey. You will enjoy an evenly roasted, juicy, crispy-skinned turkey in less time than a traditional trussed turkey. It’s so convenient and you still get all the amazing pan drippings to make your delicious Turkey Gravy.

The flavored butter is based on our classic and beloved Roast Turkey recipe which has graced the Thanksgiving tables of thousands of our readers’ families. Rubbing the butter under the turkey skin infuses the turkey with terrific flavor without any lengthy marinating required.

Roasted spatchcocked turkey on a platter with pomegranate, oranges, and apples to garnish

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We love all things turkey, and we have every step of your meal prep covered this holiday season, from our Easy Turkey Brine recipe to Leftover Turkey in Gravy. If you are looking for new ways to prepare the star of your holiday meal, add this Roasted Spatchcock Turkey recipe to your must-try list! P.S. Don’t forget the Cranberry Sauce which is delicious with turkey.

Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

During the holidays, I am always looking for efficient ways to use my time. This method of cooking takes half the time of a traditional turkey, and preparing it is a breeze. Watch the video tutorial and see just how easy it is. Here’s why you will love this recipe:

  • Evenly cooked meat – By flattening the bird you increase the surface area so the turkey roasts evenly.
  • Juicy and flavorful with crispy skin – The butterflied position of the turkey exposes more of the skin to direct heat, giving you a crispy, evenly browned skin without overcooking the meat.
  • Easy to carve – Since the body is flat, carving a spatchcocked turkey is much easier compared to a plump, round turkey.

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey Video

Spatchcocking is a great method to use to cook your Thanksgiving turkey. It sounds intimidating, but it is not difficult. Get those sharp kitchen shears ready!

What is Spatchcocked Turkey?

If you’re familiar with the brilliant method of butterflying a chicken then this Spatchcocked Turkey will be a breeze and a total game changer for your holiday meal prep.

Spatchcocking is the same as butterflying- removing the backbone to lay the turkey flat in your roasting pan so it browns more evenly with all the parts of the bird exposed. The finished turkey is more moist and there’s less chance of overcooking the lean turkey breast. There’s no special tying required and, amazingly, a 10-12 pound bird will be done in half the time of a traditional trussed roast turkey.

Ingredients

Turkey – This recipe is written for a 12 lb turkey, though anything from 11-14 lbs will work, but bake time will vary. It can be difficult to find a large enough roasting pan for a turkey that is larger than 15 pounds. Also, keep in mind a turkey takes longer than you think to defrost. See our tips below for how to thaw a turkey.

For the Flavored Butter:

  • Butter – unsalted, softened
  • Olive oil – contributes to a moist and juicy turkey and helps to make the butter easier to spread
  • Lemon zest and juice – from one lemon, infuses the turkey as it roasts
  • Garlic – 3 large cloves, finely minced
  • Parsley – fresh, chopped
  • Salt and pepper– I use freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt, but you can also use kosher salt.
Ingredients for spatchcocked turkey resting in a pan. Turkey, lemon, butter, salt, pepper, onion, olive oil, garlic, celery, parsley

For the “Stuffing”:

  • Onion – sliced into rings
  • Celery – sliced
  • Carrot – cut into circles (no need to peel)
  • Garlic – 4 large cloves, sliced
  • Water – to help create aromatic steam as the vegetables cook, infusing flavor and moisture into the turkey while it roasts. You’ll also get more drippings for your gravy.

Aromatic Additions

To enhance the aromas of your roasting turkey, you can also add sprigs of thyme, sage, rosemary, and your other favorite fresh herbs to the liquid in the bottom of your pan.

How to Spatchcock a Turkey

Spatchcocking a turkey is just like making a Spatchcock Chicken, except it takes just a little more arm strength. You’ll need heavy-duty kitchen shears, or a chef’s knife, and a sturdy cutting board (or extra large baking sheet).

  • Prep the turkey – Remove the neck and giblets. If your turkey was brined, drain the brine, carefully rinse, and thoroughly pat dry. Set the turkey on a rimmed baking sheet, breast-side down, and legs towards you.
  • Remove the spine – Identify the spine and using sharp poultry shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. Keep your shears as close to the spine as you can, and cut through the bones going all the way up the spine. This requires some arm and hand strength. Rotate the pan and start cutting through on the other side of the spine.
  • Break the breastbone – Open the turkey and you will be looking at the bottom of the breastbone. With a chef’s knife, cut a slit into the breastbone to score it – this will make the next step easier. Flip the turkey over and press down on the breastbone – You should hear a crack, allowing you to flatten the turkey.
Images showing how to spatchcock a turkey step by step

Pro Tip:

A butcher may be willing to cut out the backbone for you and save you some time in preparing the turkey. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.

How to Roast a Spatchcock Turkey

  1. Prep – Preheat the oven to 425°F. Scatter the onion slices, garlic, and parsley in a large roasting pan and pour the water over the uncooked vegetables. In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the flavored butter and mash together with a fork until combined.
  2. Spatchcock the turkey – Remove the neck and giblets, cut out the spine with kitchen shears, and press down between the turkey breasts to crack the breastbone. Full details on how to spatchcock a turkey are listed above.
  3. Season – Using salt and pepper, season the bottom/inside cavity of the turkey generously (If you brined, skip seasoning the inside), then transfer the turkey breast-side up, to the prepared roasting pan. Tuck the wings behind the turkey so they don’t burn. If you have room, put the neck and spine in the same roasting dish to enhance the drippings.
  4. Add flavored butter – Slide your fingers under the skin to separate the skin from the meat. Do this from the front and the back of the turkey being careful not to tear the skin. Stuff 2/3 of the butter mixture under the skin then massage the top of the skin to spread the butter underneath. Set the legs to face inward. Melt the remaining butter and brush it over the outside of the turkey. Season the whole turkey with more salt and pepper.
  5. Bake – Bake at 425°F for 30 minutes to start the browning process. Reduce the heat to 400°F and roast for another 1 hour, or until the thickest part of the thigh meat registers at 165°F on a meat thermometer. Check the temperature in several locations. Our 12 1/2 lb turkey took a little over 90 minutes total to cook.
  6. Rest the turkey – Remove the turkey from the oven, loosely tent with foil, and rest the turkey for 30 minutes before carving. Spoon the pan juices over the turkey or use the pan juices to make Turkey Gravy.
Four photos showing the steps to buttering a spatchcocked turkey

Common Questions

Do I need to brine the turkey?

Brining isn’t required if you don’t have the time to do it. While it is a simple process, it adds an additional 12 -24 hours to the prep. However, a turkey brine will help to tenderize the turkey. Some grocery-store turkeys are pre-brined, in which case you can skip the brining step altogether.

Why rest a turkey before carving?

Allowing the turkey to rest after cooking, gives the turkey time to redistribute its juices, resulting in tender and juicy turkey meat.

How do I carve a spatchcocked turkey?

First, using a sharp knife, remove the leg and thigh. Cut through the joint to separate the two. Next, remove the wings and then the breasts. Place the breasts skin-side-down, and carve. Finally, arrange the meat on a serving platter.

Can I use a rack in my roasting pan?

If you prefer a crispy skin all around, you can roast on a rack, but we like how the veggies and flavored butter self-baste the bottom of the turkey, adding tons of flavor.

Do I need to baste a spatchcock turkey?

There is no need to baste spatchcock turkey. Thanks to the butterflied position, it self-bastes in the roasting pan.

Roasted spatchcocked turkey resting in a pan in juices with cooked vegetables

Pro Tip:

Use leftover turkey carcass to make richly flavored Turkey Stock which freezes well and can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken stock.

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

According to the USDA, there are three ways to safely thaw a frozen turkey:

  • In the refrigerator (recommended) – Allow 24 hours per 4-5 pounds of weight (a 12 lb. turkey will require 3 days to thaw). After thawing, you can store the turkey in a refrigerator for an additional 2 days before cooking.
  • Quick-thaw in cold water – In a cooler, sink, or bucket, submerge your turkey in water in its original packaging for 30 minutes per pound (use a weight to keep it submerged). After 30 minutes, replace the water with fresh, cold water. A 12 lb. turkey takes approximately 6 hours to defrost and will require 12 water changes. This method requires you to cook your turkey immediately after thawing.
  • Quick-thaw in the microwave – (least favorite method) Use the defrost feature on your microwave oven, and cook your turkey immediately after thawing.

Make-Ahead Tip

You can prep and butter the turkey in advance and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. Keeping it uncovered dries out the skin resulting in an extra crispy turkey skin.

Roasted spatchcock turkey on a serving platter

Spatchcock Turkey is a brilliant way to prepare the star of Thanksgiving dinner. You will be surprised at how easy it is and how much faster it roasts in the oven using this method.

More Thanksgiving Recipes

If you love this Roasted Spatchcock Turkey recipe, then you won’t want to miss these classic Thanksgiving Recipes. You’ll love these classic sides and dessert recipes to complete the meal.

Roast Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Roasted spatchcocked turkey on a platter with pomegranate, oranges, and apples to garnish

This spatchcocked turkey is going to be a total game-changer. Butterflying the turkey allows it to brown more evenly since all the parts of the bird are exposed. The finished turkey is moister and there’s less chance of overcooking the lean turkey breast.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Resting Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

  • Prep – Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Scatter the onion slices, garlic, and parsley in a large roasting pan and pour the water over the uncooked vegetables. Set the pan aside. In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the flavored butter and mash together with a fork until combined.
  • Spatchcock the turkey – Remove the neck and giblets, cut out the spine with kitchen shears, and press down between the turkey breasts to crack the breastbone. Watch our video tutorial to see this process in action.
  • Season – Using salt and pepper, season the bottom/inside cavity of the turkey generously (If you brined, you can skip seasoning the inside), then transfer the turkey breast-side up, to the prepared roasting pan. Tuck the wings behind the turkey so they don’t burn. If you have room, put the neck and spine in the same roasting dish to enhance the drippings.

  • Add flavored butter – Slide your fingers under the skin to separate the skin from the meat. Do this from the front and the back of the turkey being careful not to tear the skin. Stuff 2/3 of the butter mixture under the skin then massage the top of the skin to spread the butter. Set the legs to face inward. Melt the remaining butter and brush over the outside of the turkey. Season the whole turkey with more salt and pepper.

  • Bake at 425°F for 30 minutes to get the browning started. Reduce the heat to 400°F and roast for another 1 hour, or until the thickest part of the thigh registers at 165°F on a meat thermometer. Our 12 1/2 pound turkey took an hour and a half to fully cook. Check the temperature in several places with an instant-read thermometer.
  • Rest the turkey – Remove the turkey from the oven, loosely tent it with foil, and rest the turkey for 30 minutes before carving. Spoon over the pan juices or use pan juices to make Turkey Gravy.
This recipe will work with or without brining the turkey. However, after discovering the difference that brining can make for a flavorful and juicy turkey, we recommend using our Easy Turkey Brine recipe. If you get a turkey that’s already brined, you can skip the brine.
*As a rule of thumb, aim for 1 1/4 lbs turkey per person. If you want leftovers, aim for 1 1/2 to 2 lbs of turkey per person. 

1serving Serving601kcal Calories3g Carbs84g Protein27g Fat8g Saturated Fat6g Polyunsaturated Fat9g Monounsaturated Fat0.4g Trans Fat288mg Cholesterol790mg Sodium927mg Potassium1g Fiber1g Sugar1482IU Vitamin A5mg Vitamin C56mg Calcium4mg Iron

Nutrition Facts

Roast Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Amount per Serving

% Daily Value*

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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