Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

| December 3, 2017 | 15 Comments

Spatchcock Turkey, ready to enjoy.
Follow our complete, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions on how to Spatchcock a turkey, then roast it in the oven. This 14lb turkey cooked in one hour and ten minutes. Really. Crispy skin, moist all the way through, and ready in no time. Printable recipe included.


Spatchcock Turkey, slider.
How To Spatchcock and Roast a Turkey

Yes Virginia, you really can cook a whole turkey in about an hour.

I was one of those that found it hard to believe also, so don’t feel bad. I feel your pain.

There’s no telling how many years I got up early on Thanksgiving morning to get a turkey in the oven. I’m sure you may have done so as well. It was almost like it was part of the tradition, something you had to do in order to have a turkey on the table by noon time.

Well, not any longer.

I roasted this almost 14 pound turkey in 1 hour and 10 minutes.

I’ve got a recipe for How To Roast A Turkey elsewhere here on Taste of Southern. This recipe pretty much follows the same procedure except this one requires that you remove the backbone and flatten it out before roasting.

With both recipes, I dry brine the turkey, rubbing it with Kosher Salt and placing it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, or at least for 12 hours. This dry brine helps to dry out the skin so that it cooks up nicely browned and crispy.

The only difference between the two, is this one cooks much faster. Very much faster.

I know it has a funny name. Some folks also refer to it as a butterflied turkey. Either way, it works.

This process will work with a turkey of any size. Just be sure you have a very sharp knife or good poultry shears to cut out the backbone. That’s very important. And, make sure you know where your fingers are while you’re cutting.

I was really pleased with how quickly this turkey cooked and with how moist it was. By flattening out the bird, it cooks more evenly so you’re not over cooking the breast while waiting for the dark meat to get done. It’s a win win all the way around. I know you’re going to like it.

Ready to give it a try? Alright then, grab those poultry shears and head to the kitchen. Let’s Get Cooking!


Spatchcock Turkey, you'll need these ingredients.
Butterflied Turkey, you’ll need these ingredients.


Spatchcock Turkey, remove the neckbone.
These steps need to be done the day BEFORE you intend to roast your turkey.

Remove your turkey from it’s packaging, place it in your sink, then remove the neckbone.

If the giblets are included with your turkey, (some don’t include them) you will typically find the neckbone inside the cavity of the bird. Remove it and set it aside.


Spatchcock Turkey, remove the giblets.
Remove the giblet packet.

This is generally packed inside the neck cavity of the bird. The giblets are usually all together in a sealed bag. Remove the bag and set it aside. We will be using the giblets to make Giblet Gravy later.


Spatchcock Turkey, remove the tail.
I always cut off the tail. You can leave it if you like, doesn’t really matter either way.

Did you know this part is often referred to as the “Popes nose,” or the “preachers nose”?

Don’t blame me, I didn’t make it up. It’s true though.


Spatchcock Turkey, where to cut the turkey backbone.
Next, we will cut out the backbone of the turkey. I’ve placed the two black lines on the photo above to better illustrate where you need to make the cuts.

This will be the most difficult part of the process. You need a really sharp boning knife or a really good pair of poultry shears to do this. You have a bone or two that you need to cut through, so use a lot of caution when you do this. Your fingers will thank you later. Smile.


Spatchcock Turkey, start the cut.
I started at the tail end and cut up one side of the backbone.

I’m using kitchen shears, which I really didn’t know if they were good enough to do this with or not, but happily they performed great. Just always know where your fingers are before you make that cut.

There were a couple of times where I had to use both hands to complete a cut.


Spatchcock Turkey, one side is cut.
A few snips, grunts and two handed cuts later, I had made it through the one side of the backbone.

Turn the turkey around, and head back the other way on the other side of the backbone.


Spatchcock Turkey, second cut.
For this second cut, I’ll be starting from the neck and cutting back towards the tail.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I am right handed. Most all of my photos show me using my left hand, but that’s because I’m using the right hand to snap the photos with.

Again, do make sure you know where your fingers are at all times before you make a cut.


Spatchcock Turkey, remove the backbone.
With both cuts complete, the backbone has been removed. Set this aside with the giblets for now. We can use this later to make stock or maybe we’ll just cook it with the giblets to add more flavor.

Congratulations, the hard part is complete. You done good. Smile.


Spatchcock Turkey, rinse the turkey.
Rinse the turkey under cold running water, on both the outside and the inside.


Spatchcock Turkey, remove any excess skin.
Now’s a good time to do any final trimming that might be needed. This is the skin from the neck that I will remove. I placed the knife so you could see where I’ll be cutting it. Right along where the cutting edge of the knife is.

Trim away any other excess skin or pieces that you see. You can save that for the stock pot, or just discard it. Your choice.


Spatchcock Turkey, pat the bird dry with paper towels.
Pat the inside and outside of the bird dry with paper towels.


Spatchcock Turkey, crack the breast bone.
Crack the breast bone.

This part will take two hands, but again, I’m taking photos. Just press down on the breast bone in the area where you see my hand here, and push hard. You’ll hear the bones crack when you do.

This will flatten the bird for more even cooking.


Spatchcock Turkey, ready for the dry brine.
The turkey is now ready for the dry brine process.


Spatchcock Turkey, sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper.
Flip the bird over, and sprinkle some kosher salt and black pepper over the meat.

Just a light coat of salt is all that’s needed.


Spatchcock Turkey, add salt to the skin side.
Sprinkle the skin side with salt and black pepper. It doesn’t take a lot, but be sure to get it on all the surface areas and down in between the breast and the thigh area.

I placed a small amount of kosher salt in a separate small container to make this job easier. Since I’ve been touching the turkey, then dipping into the salt, I’ll throw away the remaining salt once I’m finished. You don’t want to cross contaminate anything as you do this.


Spatchcock Turkey, add some butter under the skin.
I went ahead and placed some slices of butter under the skin of the turkey.

I gently worked my fingers underneath the skin to loosen it from the breast meat. Then, I just placed some slices of butter underneath.

You could also use some type of herb butter, or add any additional herbs and spices you might like to add more flavor to the cooked bird.

That’s it, you’re done for now. That wasn’t too hard was it?


Spatchcock Turkey, refrigerate overnight.
Place the turkey UNCOVERED on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Overnight is preferred. This will allow the salt to dry out the skin on the turkey which in turn will make for a much crispier skin once the turkey has been roasted.

I suggest that you not have any other uncovered foods in the refrigerator at this time. They should be wrapped if you do. You also want this on the bottom rack so there isn’t any chance of juices spilling down onto anything else.


Spatchcock Turkey, save the giblets.
Save those giblets and other pieces.

I placed all this in a plastic zip lock bag and put it in the refrigerator as well. I want to use the giblets to make gravy and will probably just freeze the other pieces to use to make stock with later.

You can find my recipe here for Giblet Gravy.


Spatchcock Turkey, two hours before you plan to roast the turkey.
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator two hours before you plan to roast it.


Spatchcock Turkey, 14 hours later.
Here’s my turkey after being in the refrigerator uncovered for 14 hours.

The dark meat is really showing through the skin at this point, and you can easily see the butter pieces that I placed under the skin.

I’ve elevated the bird on my OXO Silicone Racks, but it’s not really necessary.

The turkey needs to just sit out on your counter, still uncovered, for about an hour and a half unless it’s in the middle of summer where you live at the moment.

We’re going to let the turkey begin to come up to room temperature to aid in the cooking process.

Just figure out what time you want to serve the turkey, allowing about 30 minutes after it’s cooked for it to sit once again and rest. Once it’s cooked, it needs to rest a bit so the juices can redistribute themselves throughout the bird.


Spatchcock Turkey, brush with butter.
Brush the skin side with some melted butter before placing it in the oven.

I slightly melted about three Tablespoons of butter in the microwave, then brushed it all over the skin side of the turkey.

NOTE: If you think you applied a lot of salt to the skin, you can brush most of that away with a paper towel before you brush it down with butter. You don’t want the skin to be overly salty and ruin the taste of your turkey once it’s sliced.


Spatchcock Turkey, roasting time and temp.

Place the turkey in a oven preheated to 425F degrees.

Roast the turkey for 30 MINUTES at 425F degrees.

REDUCE the temperature to 325F degrees, cook turkey until done.


Spatchcock Turkey, cook until done.
You’ll find many variations regarding the temperature that turkey needs to be cooked before it’s done.

Some say the temperature in the thigh needs to reach 185F degrees, and the breast meat needs to be cooked until it reaches 165F degrees.

I’ll go along with those temperatures.

One of the problems when trying to roast a whole turkey is that the darker meat takes longer to cook than the white meat. Thus, the white meat will overcook and begin to dry out while you wait for the thigh meat to come up to temp.

With this spatchcock method, the turkey lies flat on the pan, and it cooks more evenly. The thighs cook quicker this way so the breast meat doesn’t have time to dry out.

I suggest you always use a digital thermometer to check the temperature with. You can find them for 10.00 or less at lots of big box type stores. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being sure not to touch the bone, and check the temperature at that point. Check several points around the thighs and breast to be sure it’s done all the way through.

Once it’s done, remove the turkey from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool. Lightly cover the turkey with a sheet of aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes prior to slicing.


Spatchcock Turkey, save the pan drippings.
Don’t forget to save the pan drippings. We will use them to make our Giblet Gravy.


Spatchcock Turkey, enjoy.

It really did cook to perfection in an hour and ten minutes. Gotta love that… right?


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Spatchcock or butterflied turkey recipe, as seen on Taste of Southern.

Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: Varies according to size.
  • Category: Main Dish, Turkey
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


Follow our complete, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions on how to spatchcock a turkey, then roast it in the oven. This 14lb turkey cooked in one hour and ten minutes. Really. Crispy skin, moist all the way through, and ready in no time.



  • 1 Turkey, thawed
  • ½ stick Butter
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper


  1. Turkey must be fully thawed.
  2. Place turkey in sink, remove from packaging.
  3. Remove the neck from the turkey cavity if included.
  4. Remove the packet of giblets from the neck cavity if included.
  5. Cut and remove the tail of the bird if desired.
  6. Using a sharp knife or poultry shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it.
  7. Rinse the turkey all over under cold running water.
  8. Trim away any excess neck skin or other excess pieces of skin as needed.
  9. Using both hands, press down on the breast bone to crack and flatten it.
  10. Using paper towels, pat the bird dry on both sides.
  11. Sprinkle both sides with Kosher salt and black pepper to serve as a dry brine.
  12. Gently slip your fingers beneath the skin to lift it from the meat.
  13. Insert several slices of butter or herbed butter underneath the skin.
  14. Place uncovered in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
  15. Remove from the refrigerator about two hours before you plan to roast the bird.
  16. Let the turkey come up close to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 425F degrees.
  17. Brush the skin side of the turkey with slightly melted butter.
  18. Place the turkey on the bottom rack of your oven
  19. Roast for ONLY 30 MINUTES at 425F degrees.
  20. REDUCE the temperature to 325F degrees and cook the turkey until done.
  21. Insert a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and breast to check for doneness.
  22. Thigh meat needs to be cooked to 185F degrees and breast meat should be cooked to 165F degrees.
  23. Remove the turkey from oven when done, place pan on wire rack. Lightly tent turkey with foil.
  24. Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
  25. Enjoy!

Keywords: Spatchcock Turkey Recipe, how to spatchcock a turkey, Thanksgiving recipes, Christmas, quick turkey recipe


Your Comments:  Have you ever tried this spatchcock method to cook a turkey? What did you think about it? Think you might try our recipe some time?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on our recipe. It will only take a minute or two for you to leave your comments in the section below.

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Be Blessed!!!



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Category: Main Dishes, Turkey

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (15)

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  1. Giblet Gravy : Taste of Southern | December 6, 2017
  1. Janet says:

    I have Not cooked a turkey by this.method,but have bookmarked your recipe to use next time. Thanks for the recipe Love your recipes..

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Janet, This always amazes me at how quickly it cooks this way. I hope you’ll try it, but be sure you have some good sharp kitchen shears when you try to remove the backbone. It can be a bit stubborn, but be careful and all should go well. I hope you get to try it soon. Thank you for sharing your comments and for your visit today. I hope you’ll visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. Anthony B. says:

    Hello Steve. Another Thanksgiving is upon us. Let us be thankful daily for the bounty that has been bestowed upon us. We started something last year with your spatchcocked turkey! My family has designated Gramma & me to “make the turkey like last year”. The garden rose pruners scrubbed up go through the ribs easily. This day before prep gives the opportunity to make stock with the neck & giblets for gravy. Roast the neck and backbone while baking the cornbread for dressing. Like the roasted flavor this gives to the stock. Chicken and duck is delicious prepared this way.
    From one truly blessed & thankful old man,
    Anthony B.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Anthony, This really was amazing to me as well. Couldn’t believe how much faster a turkey would cook when prepared this way. I’m glad you’ve tried it and happy it turned out well for you. Keep up the good work. It’s always nice to meet another “blessed and thankful old man.” Smile. Thank you for all of your support and for all of your visits. I hope you and yours have a great Thanksgiving. Be sure to stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. Anthony B. says:

    O my, Steve this is the only way we will cook a turkey from now on. Did a 12 lb. exactly as instructed, absolutely delicious and so easy to carve. Had a crockpot ready for the wreck and trimmings. Made that healthy broth for soup and pie. Thanks for showing an old dog a new trick. You be Blessed!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Anthony, Once you get the backbone removed, this is super easy. I’m so glad you tried it. I was amazed at how fast it cooked myself. I tried my best to get my brother to try making his this way for Thanksgiving this year, but he didn’t do it. Some “old dogs” just aren’t as willing to try as others I guess. Smile. I do appreciate your willingness to test out something new. I’m glad it turned out well for you. Enjoy the broth. I’m thankful for your visits and do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. John says:

    I’ve smoked three spatchcock chickens in the past two months and my wife and I loved them. I’m looking forward to our first roasted spatchcock turkey for thanksgiving and will be following your recipe.
    I do have a question. What did you use to line the pan? Will a cookie cooling rack work?
    Any suggestions would be appreciated. I’m 72 years old and my wife had a stroke in 2011. Now that I do all the cooking for both of us, I sure wish I would have paid closer attention to all magic she did in the kitchen.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi John, I didn’t line my pan, but you could use aluminum foil if available. My OXO Sheet Pans are really easy to clean so I didn’t line the pan this time around. I did place the turkey on a couple of silicone racks that I also got from OXO to raise it up a little, but again, that isn’t really necessary. Sometimes, I’ve rolled up a bit of aluminum foil to place in the pan to support a turkey or roast while it cooks. Your cookie cooling rack will probably work great as well. I hope this helps. We never know what life is going to throw at us do we? I trust you’re wife is doing well, and I’m sure you’re doing a great job in the kitchen. Keep up the great work. Thank you for stopping by today. Please let me know how the turkey turns out for you. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Be sure to stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • John says:

        Thanks, Steve,
        Thanks for the reply. I followed your directions closely and was amazed how easy it was. I just finished prepping the turkey and is now in the refrigerator. I will send you a photo of the finished product.
        We hope you have a great Thanksgiving.
        Be blessed yourself!!

        • John says:

          Hi, Steve,
          I can’t figure out how to include a picture, but the turkey came out looking good and tasting great. My sister-in-law joined us for Thanksgiving, and she commented on how juicy and flavorful this turkey tasted.
          Thanks so much for your recipie and suggestions. I will definitely do this again.
          We hope you had a great Thanksgiving.
          Be blessed yourself, and thanks again.

  5. Gina Price and family says:

    Hey Steve, can’t wait to try this, NEVER heard of it !!! Merry Christmas !

  6. Roxanne says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve spatchcocked a chicken before, but never thought about doing a turkey. It definitely looks like you get more crispy skin than you usually do (unless you flip your turkey part-way through). Thanks for a way to save a bit more time, especially since I do make the dressing on the side.

  7. Karen Miller says:

    I have spatchcocked our turkey for several years, now. I saw a demonstration on TV several years ago and decided to try it. That’s the only way I’ll cook a turkey from now on. I’ve also fixed whole chicken this way.

    In order to do this, I did have to go buy poultry shears. Sometimes I need to get my husband to help when my arthritis is acting up.

    I enjoyed reading your newsletter and your recipes. Best wishes to you in the coming year.

  8. Linda says:

    Did you know this part is often referred to as the “Popes nose,” or the “preachers nose”?

    Don’t blame me, I didn’t make it up. It’s true though.

    Steve, you are so funny!! This is certainly an interesting way to cook a turkey and I’m going to try it sometime. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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