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Spatchcock Turkey Recipe – Juicy Meat & Crispy Skin

Spatchcock turkey cut up on white serving platter.

Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Juicy Meat & Crispy Skin

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with turkey my whole life. On one hand, I love it when it’s good. But more often than not, it’s dry, overcooked, and a complete waste of space on my Thanksgiving plate. Last year I discovered the absolute best way to cook a turkey: spatchcock it! Basically, spatchcocking is butterflying the turkey so that it lays flat on your roasting tray rather than round. Not only does this decrease the cook time, but it also exposes most of the skin to direct heat. And let’s be honest, isn’t that the best part? So please enjoy this spatchcock turkey recipe. I know my family will for years to come.

 

How to Spatchcock A Turkey

Keep scrolling for a step by step photo demonstration. However, if you need more help on exactly how to spatchcock a turkey, this video is a good resource.

 

The Process

4 picture collage of turkey brine.

In a very large stock pot – first add the salt and sugar. Then add all of the aromatics: 2 sliced lemons, 1 sliced orange, 2 sliced limes, garlic, 8 sprigs of rosemary, 20 sprigs of thyme, 2 onions, peppercorns and parsley. Add water and mix well, until salt and sugar are dissolved. Then gently place turkey into brine. If need be, add more water until turkey is completely submerged. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

 

5-picture collage to show cutting out backbone.

After turkey has been in brine for at least 24 hours, it’s time to spatchcock the bird – which basically means “remove the backbone and lay flat.” I find it easiest to cut out the backbone while the bird is still in the stock pot, using sharp kitchen shears- as pictured.

 

6-picture collage to show removing wishbone.

Once backbone is removed, transfer the bird to a large colander so that any excess liquid can fully drain off. Discard the brine. While the bird sits in the colander, remove the wishbone- as pictured.

 

5-picture collage to show prepping turkey for oven.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Transfer the turkey to a large cutting board and place breast side up. With a firm press of the palm of your hand, break the breastbone, so that bird can lay flat. Line a baking sheet with 2 thinly sliced oranges, 1 sliced onion, 10 sprigs of thyme, and 4 sprigs of rosemary. Flip the bird and season the non-skin side generously with salt and pepper. Then transfer the bird to the baking sheet on top of aromatics with the skin side up. Fold out leg quarters so that as much skin is exposed as possible. Season the skin generously with salt and pepper.

 

Spatchcock turkey (uncooked) on baking sheet in oven.

Bake the turkey for 30 minutes.

 

Melted butter in pot with quartered onion.

Meanwhile… gently melt butter in with one quartered onion.

 

Dipping cheesecloth in butter.

After 30 minutes of roasting the turkey, dip 4 large pieces of cheesecloth in the butter…

 

Covering turkey in butter-dipped cheesecloth.

…and cover the entire skin surface of the bird. Return the turkey to the oven and bake for 1 more hour…

 

Basting turkey through cheesecloth with basting brush.

…basting the outside of the cheesecloth every 30 minutes.

 

Spatchcock turkey covered in cheesecloth.

Now that the turkey has roasted for 1 1/2 hours, remove the cheesecloth…

 

Spatchcock turkey with meat thermometer.

…and insert a meat thermometer into the largest part of the breast.

 

Meat thermometer inside turkey showing 165 degrees F.

Continue cooking until temperature is between 160 and 165 degrees F. Remove from oven and let rest. As the turkey rests, the temperature will continue to rise.

 

And the AMAZING Result…

A Perfect Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Spatchcock turkey on baking sheet with aromatics.

*Our updated version of this recipe does not include the carrots and celery originally pictured here. However the same brine and cooking methods were used for this picture.

 

★ Did you make this Spatchcock Turkey Recipe?

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Spatchcock Turkey - Juicy Meat & Crispy Skin

This spatchcocked Thanksgiving Turkey is the perfect combination of crispy skin and juicy meat.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword spatchcock, thanksgiving, turkey
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Soak in Brine 12 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 30
Calories 456 kcal
Author Gary White

Ingredients

  • 15 lb. young turkey
  • 1 gallon cold water enough to cover turkey
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 lemons sliced
  • 3 oranges sliced, divided
  • 2 limes sliced
  • 2 heads of garlic sliced horizontally
  • 12 sprigs rosemary divided
  • 30 sprigs thyme divided
  • 3 large onions sliced, divided
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley torn
  • 1 lb. butter melted
  • kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a very large stock pot – first add the salt and sugar. Then add all of the aromatics: 2 sliced lemons, 1 sliced orange, 2 sliced limes, garlic, 8 sprigs of rosemary, 20 sprigs of thyme, 2 onions, peppercorns and parsley. Add water and mix well, until salt and sugar are dissolved. Then gently place turkey into brine. If need be, add more water until turkey is completely submerged. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

  2. Spatchcock the turkey - After turkey has been in brine for at least 24 hours, it’s time to spatchcock the bird – which basically means “remove the backbone and lay flat.” I find it easiest to cut out the backbone while the bird is still in the stock pot, using sharp kitchen shears.

  3. Once backbone is removed, transfer the bird to a large colander so that any excess liquid can fully drain off. Discard the brine. While the bird sits in the colander, remove the wishbone.

  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Transfer the turkey to a large cutting board and place breast side up. With a firm press of the palm of your hand, break the breastbone, so that bird can lay flat. Line a baking sheet with 2 thinly slice oranges, 1 sliced onion, 10 sprigs of thyme, and 4 sprigs of rosemary. Flip the bird and season the non-skin side generously with salt and pepper. Then transfer the bird to the baking sheet on top of aromatics with the skin side up. Fold out leg quarters so that as much skin is exposed as possible. Season the skin generously with salt and pepper.

  5. Bake the turkey for 30 minutes. 

  6. Meanwhile… gently melt butter in with one quartered onion.

  7. After 30 minutes of roasting the turkey, dip 4 large pieces of cheesecloth in the butter and cover the entire skin surface of the bird. Return the turkey to the oven and bake for 1 more hour, and basting the outside of the cheesecloth every 30 minutes.

  8. Now that the turkey has roasted for 1 1/2 hours, remove the cheesecloth and insert a meat thermometer into the largest part of the breast. Continue cooking until temperature is between 160 and 165 degrees F. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing. As the turkey rests, the temperature will continue to rise.

Nutrition Facts
Spatchcock Turkey - Juicy Meat & Crispy Skin
Amount Per Serving
Calories 456 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 38%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 195mg 65%
Sodium 935mg 39%
Potassium 574mg 16%
Total Carbohydrates 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 5g
Protein 49g 98%
Vitamin A 12%
Vitamin C 17.7%
Calcium 4.9%
Iron 12.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

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