Enjoy the best Thanksgiving ever when you prepare Spatchcock Turkey! Tender, juicy turkey meat is covered with the best flavorful and crispy skin. This method of preparing a whole bird is a lot easier than you may think and it’s always a huge hit! Make it with my aromatic citrus herb butter to really send it over the top.
I won’t lie – I’m a sucker for a classic roast Thanksgiving turkey. I’ve mastered cooking the whole bird, which means every year it’s my responsibility to track that temperature and cook it to perfection. Honestly, I’m happy to do it! However… I think this year I’m going to break tradition ever so slightly by preparing this insanely good spatchcock turkey.
To spatchcock a bird essentially means to split it in half before roasting. It’s a huge hit on days like Thanksgiving because it cuts the cooking time down tremendously! Gone are the hours upon hours of slow roasting the whole bird. This easy spatchcock recipe may cut down on time, but it doesn’t cut down on flavor! It’s tender, juicy, and loaded with buttery herbaceous flavors.
If you’ve ever made a spatchcock chicken, you already know what you’re in for here. If not, no worries! This is a great easy starter recipe. The step-by-step instructions are fairly simple and the ingredients are citrusy, herby, and inexpensive. Honestly, you might never prepare a whole turkey any other way once you’ve mastered the spatchcock technique!
How to Make a Spatchcock Turkey
Grab a pair of sharp, clean kitchen shears and let’s get to work!
- Remove the backbone. Place the turkey breast side down on a cutting board. Use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone, and remove it. Use a knife to score the long oblong bone that’s in the center of the breast.
- Flatten the breastbone. Flip the turkey skin side up. Press down firmly on the center of the breastbone to flatten it – you will hear a crack. Then, cut off the wing tips at the first joint. Save these for stock or gravy!
- Mix together the flavorful ingredients. Stir together the orange juice, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and butter in a bowl until combined.
- Butter the bird. Place the turkey skin side up in a roasting pan. Spread half of the butter under the skin to coat. Then, spread the remaining butter all over the skin. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the turkey. Place the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at 500°F. Lower the heat to 425°F and roast for another hour.
- Check the temperature. Insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. When the turkey reached 150°F it’s ready to go!
- Let it rest. Tent the cooked turkey with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving and serving.
Every kitchen needs a pair of heavy duty Poultry Shears and I love this pair because of the locking mechanism, as well as, the fact that you can take them apart to clean them. It makes boning chickens, turkeys and more a breeze.
How do I know when spatchcock turkey is fully cooked?
Use an instant read thermometer! It’s the most certain way to check for doneness. When inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, a fully cooked turkey will reach 150°F. It will continue cooking once it’s removed from the oven and loosely tented with foil.
If your turkey has not yet reached temperature, continue cooking it for an additional 30 minutes or until the temperature is reached. Keep an eye on it – you don’t want it to overcook and dry out.
Why spatchcock a turkey?
There are a few reasons you may find this method of cooking a whole turkey beneficial. Here are just a few reasons I’m so obsessed:
- Helps the turkey cook more evenly.
- Cuts down on cook time.
- Results in crispy skin all over.
Make more of the best easy turkey recipes!
- Crockpot Turkey Breast
- Cornbread Stuffed Turkey Roulade
- Maple Butter Roasted Turkey Legs
- Hot Open Faced Turkey Sandwich
For more easy turkey recipes, follow us on Instagram!
Get the Recipe: Spatchcock Turkey Recipe
- 12-14 pound turkey, rinsed, patted dry and giblets removed
For the Citrus Herb Butter
- 1 large navel orange, juiced and zested
- 1 large lemon, juiced and zested
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 poultry shears
- 1 roasting pan
- To spatchcock the turkey, place the turkey breast side down, on a cutting board.
- Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. Using a sharp knife, make score the long oblong bone in the center of breast.
- Flip the turkey skin side up and press down on the center of the breastbone to flatten, you will hear it crack. Cut off the wing tips at the first joint and save for stock or gravy.
- In a bowl, stir together the orange juice, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and butter.
- Place the turkey skin side up in a large roasting pan and spread 1/2 the butter under the skin to coat. Spread the remaining butter over the skin and season with salt/pepper.
- Place the rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 500˚F.
- Transfer the turkey to the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the heat to 425˚F and continue roasting the turkey for 1 hour. Check the temperature of the turkey by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. When the temperature reaches 150˚F, remove from the oven, tent with foil and rest for 30 minutes. If your turkey has not reached temperature, continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes or until the temperature is reached.
- Carve the turkey and serve.