Spatchcock turkey is a game-changer. Not only is it juicy, a spatchcocked turkey cooks in a fraction of the time as a whole-roasted bird.

Roasted turkey in a pan with herbs around it

Everyone’s biggest fear around Thanksgiving is spending an arm and a leg on a large turkey only for it to turn out dry and plain. I’ve been there and I am here to assure you that you never have to settle for subpar turkey again! That’s even true if you’re on a time crunch. That’s right – there is a speedier way to cook roasted turkey to perfection with minimal ingredients and no need to fuss around with brine. Enter: the spatchcock method.

What Exactly is Spatchcocking?

If you’ve never used the spatchcock method before, it’s a different way to prepare poultry (primarily chicken and turkey) for cooking. It involves removing the backbone from the bird so you can lay it out flat. The benefit? You expose more of the surface area of the meat to the heat source, resulting in quicker and more even cooking than roasting a whole turkey.

Did you know? Spatchcock and butterfly are used interchangeably. It’s the same method! 

Pan with veggies and a roasting rack

Essential Kitchen Tools for Spatchcocking Turkey

A couple of essential tools will make spatchcocking a turkey a no-brainer. 

  • OXO Good Grips Spring-Loaded Poultry Shears: Use poultry shears over standard kitchen scissors to remove the backbone. They are specifically designed for the task and make the process so much smoother.
  • Instant-Read Thermometer: It’s nearly impossible to cook a turkey perfectly without a meat thermometer. It takes all the guesswork out of gauging doneness! Once the breast meat hits 165°F and the thickest part of the thigh registers at 170°F, take it out of the oven and let it rest.
  • OXO Good Grips Silicone Roasting Racks: These silicone roasting racks are not only easier to clean than metal racks, but they also elevate the bird away from the bottom of the pan and allow all the pan drippings to accumulate at the bottom (hello, gravy!).
  • OXO Good Grips 4-Cup Fat Separator: One of the best parts about making roasted turkey is using the drippings to make gravy. This fat separator makes it crazy easy to remove any unwanted fat and veggie solids from the drippings before turning it into a knockout turkey gravy.
Turkey drippings in a cup

Spatchcocking 101

Breaking down a turkey spatchcock-style might look tough, but it’s actually quite easy. 

  1. Flip the bird over so the backbone is on top. 
  2. Using sharp kitchen shears (preferably poultry shears), slice along the sides of the breastbone. Place the giblets and backbone in a sealable bag and set aside (don’t throw them away – they make for amazing turkey broth and turkey neck soup). 
  3. Grab hold of the open sides of the turkey and open up the bird as much as you can. Remove any excess pieces of fat or skin and toss them away. 
  4. Flip the turkey breast side up. Using your hands, press down on the breast meat until you hear a crack (that’s the sound of the breast bone breaking). 
  5. Pull the thighs outward and tuck the wings underneath the bird so the turkey lays as flat as possible. Congrats! You just spatchcocked your first turkey.
Turkey getting back bone cut out

Baking a Spatchcock Turkey

Once you get the hang of cutting out the backbone (it might feel a tad awkward at first), baking spatchcocked turkey will become second nature. Below, find an overview of the process. 

  • Prep the Veggies: Slice the potatoes and onions into chunks and assemble them on the outside of the baking dish.
  • Prep the Marinade: Combine the mayo, salt, black pepper, and pressed garlic until smooth. 
  • Remove the Backbone: Using poultry shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, break the breast bone, flip the bird breast side up, and flatten the turkey. 
  • Marinate the Turkey: Carefully pull the turkey skin away from the flesh and spread a portion of the marinade both under the skin. Use the remaining marinade to spread the marinade on the outside of the bird. 
  • Roast the Turkey: Cover the turkey with foil or a lid and roast it at 400°F for 60 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 350°F and bake for another 2 hours, removing the foil about 30 minutes from finish to crisp the skin.
  • Let the Turkey Rest: Tent the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest. Carve and enjoy! 

5 Tips for Making The BEST Spatchcock Turkey

If you love juicy, moist bird, these tips are for you. 

  • Pick up the right-sized turkey. Wondering how much turkey you should allot for each guest? Plan on about ½ pound per person. 
  • Pat the skin with a paper towel before marinating it. For extra crispy skin, pat it dry of any excess moisture before smearing it with marinade. 
  • Season underneath the skin. To capitalize on flavor, put your marinade both on top and under the skin of the turkey. Don’t worry about overseasoning! As the turkey slowly cooks, the seasoning will absorb into the meat. This is what you want!
  • Add veggies to the roasting pan. The veggies don’t just make for a built-in side dish, but they also add a ton of flavor to the turkey as it bakes. Potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery are all great options.
  • Always, always, always let the turkey rest before carving it. Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 30-40 minutes on the cutting board. This will trap all those juices you worked so hard for. It will also make it easier for you to cut the turkey into pieces before serving.

The Only Guide You Need for Cooking Turkey

As you know, turkeys come in all different sizes. To help you always know how long to bake your bird, find our handy weight and time guide below.

Thawing Guide for Frozen Turkey

If you’re using a frozen turkey, check out the guide below to ensure that you aren’t dealing with frozen bird day-of.

Ideas for Serving Spatchcock Turkey

If you’re whipping up spatchcock turkey for Thanksgiving, assemble the bird on a beautiful serving platter alongside the veggies and sprigs of your favorite herbs. Thyme, sage, and rosemary all make for beautiful garnishes. If you’re making spatchcocked turkey for meal prep, use the meat to make tasty sandwiches, soup, and salads throughout the week.

Sliced turkey in a serving dish

Storing, Freezing, & Reheating Turkey

Perhaps the best part of making a whole turkey is enjoying the abundance of leftovers. Find all the tips for storing, freezing, and reheating your bird here. 

  • Refrigerator: To keep turkey on hand for up to a week, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. This will keep it from drying out and losing that moisture you worked so hard to attain! 
  • Freezer: If you have more turkey than you can eat in a week, freeze it for up to 3 months. To do so, place it in a freezer-safe bag.

Reheating Tip: The best way to reheat turkey is on low in a skillet with butter. If you have drippings or gravy leftover, use them to bast the turkey so it doesn’t dry out. 

Essential Thanksgiving Sides

About Author

Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.