How Long to Roast a Spatchcock Turkey
Published Nov 01, 2019•Updated Dec 06, 2022
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Cooking a spatchcocked turkey this year? We’ve got you covered below with everything you need to prepare your bird, instructions on how long to roast a spatchcock turkey, plus a classic herb spatchcock turkey recipe.
What is spatchcocking?
Spatchcocking is the process of removing the backbone of a whole turkey, chicken, or other poultry for roasting, and pressing the bird to lay flat in the pan.
Why cook your turkey this way
When it cooks flat, the meat of the turkey is evenly distributed across the cooking surface. It won’t just cook more evenly, it will cook faster. This time-saving technique is a great way to ensure juicy turkey meat and crispy skin.
How to Spatchcock a Turkey
- Place turkey, breast side down on a large cutting board. Pat it very dry with paper towels (this makes it easier to work with).
- Use sharp kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone so that it can be removed. (Save the backbone to use for making turkey stock.)
- Open up the turkey and use the tip of a sharp knife to make small slashes / score along one side of the breast bone (this will make it easier to flatten).
- Turn the turkey so the breast side is facing up. Using the heel of your hand, press firmly down on the turkey breast until the bones crack and the turkey rests flat. (This will take a lot of pressure, so push firmly.)
- Tuck the wing tips under the turkey (so they don’t burn when roasting).
For a great visual, check out this video by Serious Eats. I watch it every year before I prepare my turkey.
Ask your butcher to do it! Did you know that your butcher may be able to spatchcock your turkey before you pick it up? Save yourself some time and leave it to a pro.
Should you brine your spatchcocked turkey?
Spatchcock your turkey before brining. You’ll want the surface of the bird to be as dry as possible so that you can easily hold and move it.
But, to brine or not to brine, that is the question. Turkey can be salt-water brined, dry-brined, or left unbrined. We answered all of your questions on brining and did an side-by-side comparison of several turkeys last year. You can see our complete brining guide here.
How long to roast it
At 425°F / 218°C, estimate 4 to 6 minutes per pound of spatchcocked turkey. Keep in mind that this will vary based on the initial temperature of the turkey when it goes into the oven, so try to bring it to room temperature before you start. Use an instant read thermometer to start checking for doneness at the low end of the estimated time. Using this as a guide, roast:
- 10 pound spatchcock turkey for 40 to 60 minutes
- 15 pound spatchcock turkey for 60 to 90 minutes
- 20 pound spatchcock turkey for 80 to 120 minutes
- 25 pound spatchcock turkey for 100 to 150 minutes
How do you know when turkey is done?
To prevent overcooking, start checking the turkey at the lower end of the cook time. A meat thermometer is the best way to check for doneness. The turkey is ready to be pulled from the oven when the thickest part of the breast reaches an internal temperature of 160°F / 71°C and the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F / 73°C.
Variations on classic roasted turkey
- Add Seasonal Veggies – Root vegetables are at peak seasonality during the fall and winter months. Try your roasted spatchcocked turkey with parsnips, turnips, or rutabaga.
- Change your Butter – Add an extra pop of flavor by substituting regular, unsalted butter for a savory butter like garlic, or herb-infused.
- Add Citrus – Poultry and citrus are a classic combination. Try placing oranges, lemon, or even grapefruit around your turkey for another layer of flavor.
More Thanksgiving Recipes
- Focaccia and Bacon Stuffing
- Turkey Gravy with White Wine and Sage
- Creamy Butternut Squash and Spinach Casserole
- Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Brie and Balsamic Honey
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Spatchcock Roasted Turkey with Herbs
- Kitchen Shears
- Cutting Board
- Rimmed Sheet Pan
- Oven-Safe Wire Rack
- Meat Thermometer
- 1 12 – 18 pound Whole Turkey, fresh (or thawed if frozen), neck and giblets removed
- 1 Tablespoon Morton’s Kosher Salt, plus more for finishing
- 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Herbs (I like parsley, thyme, and rosemary)
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 cups Water or Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
- Chopped onions, celery, carrots, sliced garlic heads, apples, and / or sprigs of fresh herbs (optional – to flavor the pan drippings)
- 1 day to 1 hour before roasting: Line a large rimmed sheet pan or roasting dish (one that is large enough to hold the turkey) with foil. If using a sheet pan, place an oven-safe cooling rack on top.
- Spatchcock turkey: Place turkey, breast side down on a large cutting board. Pat it dry with paper towels (this makes it easier to work with). Use sharp kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone, completely removing it. (Save the backbone to use for making stock.) Open up the turkey and use the tip of a knife to make small slashes / score along one side of the breast bone (this makes it easier to flatten).
- Turn turkey so the breast side is facing up. Using the palms of your hand, press firmly down on the turkey breast until the bones crack and the turkey rests flat. Transfer spatchcocked turkey to prepared sheet pan.
- Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Tuck wing tips under the turkey (so they don’t burn when roasting).
- Season: Gently loosen the skin by running your fingers (or a small spoon) between the skin on the breast and legs. Rub salt under the skin and all over the turkey, concentrating it where the meat is thickest (like the breast). Let turkey come to room temperature (or return it to the refrigerator and let rest, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours).
- Preheat oven to 425°F / 218°C.
- Combine softened butter, herbs, and black pepper. Rub seasoned butter under and over the skin of the turkey. Season the surface of the turkey with some additional kosher salt.
- Pour stock into pan under turkey. If using chopped onions, celery, carrots, sliced garlic heads, apples, and / or sprigs of fresh herbs to flavor the turkey, lift the wire rack with turkey up and add those to the bottom of the pan.
- Carefully transfer turkey to the lower rack of the heated oven and roast for 70 minutes to 2 hours. Start checking turkey at the lower end of the cook time and continue checking until the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F / 71°C and the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F / 73°C.)
- Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes (you can tent it with foil to keep it warm). While turkey rests, use pan drippings to make gravy.
- Carve turkey and serve!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.