How to Spatchcock a Turkey and Save a Ton of Time This Thanksgiving

So you’re hosting Thanksgiving and you want the turkey to be the star of the show. This isn’t your first time roasting a turkey, so you’re well aware of the time and energy involved. You’re going to do it, but you wish there was another way. Why not spatchcock the turkey and save yourself a ton of time?

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What Is a Spatchcocked Turkey?

What is a spatchcocked turkey, you ask? It’s also called butterflying. It’s simply a turkey that’s been split or butterflied and flattened prior to baking.

Since the meat is situated more evenly during the roasting process, the turkey bakes much quicker and more evenly. No joke! I cooked a 14 lb turkey in 65 minutes in my small oven.

Now I’m going to show you how to prep and cook your turkey in less than 2 hours. I also encourage you to use the trimmings and giblets to make a stock for your gravy.

If you’re using a frozen turkey, please refer to this article at Allrecipes for safe thawing instructions and options.

a quick and easy spactchcocked turkey on a cooling rack

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Getting Ready to Spatchcock a Turkey

If you’re anything like me, your turkey prep will get messy (think Tasmanian devil in the kitchen) so clear as much counter space as possible and move any non-essentials completely out of the way.

I also like to start with a disinfected sink and countertops. I tried covering my counters with saran wrap one year, but that didn’t work out very well so I don’t recommend it!

Gather Your Essentials

Gather all of your supplies and place them on the counter where they’ll be easy for you to grab when needed. You don’t want to be opening cupboards and drawers for stuff when your hands are all yucky from handling the turkey.

  • Jelly Roll Pan
  • Cooling Rack
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Heavy Duty Kitchen Shears
  • Cutting Board
  • Small Pot
  • Large Stock Pot
  • Garbage Can
  • Large Food Storage Container for stock

Line the Jelly Roll Pan with aluminum foil, then place the cooling rack on top of the foil. The foil is optional. I usually don’t use it but did this time so you wouldn’t see my old jelly roll pan.

It worked out just fine, and you can stay tuned for my How to Clean Your Jelly Roll Pan post in the near future.

Set Out Your Ingredients

Related Article: Get your home ready for the holidays

Set your ingredients out on the counter near where you’ll be working.

  • Turkey
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Turkey, butter, and seasonings for spatchcock turkey

Melt the butter, then measure out and combine all of the spices before starting so you don’t have to wash your hands a million times while prepping the turkey. Bonus tip, you can put all of your spice jars away before you get started.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the large stockpot on the stove half full of water and turn it on medium for the trimmings, then place the small pot on the stove and turn it on low to melt the butter while you’re prepping your turkey.

How To Spatchcock a Turkey

Unwrap your thawed turkey over the sink. Remove the neck and giblets from the neck and body cavities. Toss the neck and giblets in the pot of simmering water to make additional stock for your gravy.

Leave the turkey in the sink to drain for a few minutes so it doesn’t leak all over your counter. Once the turkey’s done dripping, set it on the cutting board breast side down.

Using your kitchen shears, cut up each side of the backbone and remove it. Toss the backbone in your simmering pot on the stove.

Flip the turkey over so it’s split side down on the cutting board. Using the palms of your hands, place pressure on the breast bone until the turkey flattens out.

Once it’s flat, place it on the cooling rack and rotate the legs and thighs so they lay flat. After that, rotate the wings back so you can tuck the wing tips under to prevent burning.

Now that your turkey is all spatchcocked and situated, brush the exposed surfaces with melted butter, then sprinkle the seasonings over the top.

How to Roast a Spatchcocked Turkey

Place the turkey in the oven. Depending on how hot your oven cooks, start checking the temperature of the breast with a meat thermometer at 60 minutes.

Once the breast meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the turkey from the oven and drain the juices into a pan for gravy.

Loosely cover the turkey with foil and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. While the turkey is resting, finish the rest of the dishes for the meal, including your gravy.

Carve the turkey and have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

You Successfully Spatchcocked Your Turkey

Spatchcocking a turkey is a great way to save yourself some time and energy on a very busy day. Once you get the backbone out, the rest is a piece of cake. What are your Thanksgiving Day Shortcuts?

Spatchcocked Turkey

Save yourself a ton of time and spatchcock your turkey this year. It'll cook in half the time with half the effort and the meat comes out juicy and evenly cooked.

  • 14 lb Turkey
  • 1/4 Cup Butter (melted)
  • 1 tsp Rosemary (dried)
  • 1 tsp Thyme (dried)
  • 2 tsp Sage (dried)
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper (ground)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 ° Fahrenheit

  2. Remove giblets and neck from the body cavity and put them in the pot for stock.

  3. Remove the backbone and put it in the pot for stock.

  4. Turn turkey over onto the breast side and flatten with the palms of your hands.

  5. Place turkey on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan with a cooling rack in it.

  6. Rotate the legs and thighs so they lay flat.

  7. Rotate the wings and tuck the tips underneath so they don't burn.

  8. Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel.

  9. Brush the turkey with melted butter.

  10. Sprinkle with seasoning mixture.

  11. Place in oven and bake for approximately 70 minutes.

  12. Turkey is ready to come out of the oven when breast meat is 165° Fahrenheit

  13. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes, then carve and serve.

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