Spatchcock Turkey

let the turkey rest

The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 2 hrs
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 90 mins
  • Yield: 10 servings

Spatchcocking is basically a butterflying technique for poultry. The term "spatchcock" is thought to mean "dispatch the cock" and it first appeared in print in the 18th century. The backbone is cut out and then the whole bird is flattened.

Faster and hotter cooking is one significant advantage of spatchcocking; a spatchcocked turkey will cook at 450 F in about half the time of a regular turkey. This method also solves one of the biggest turkey roasting problems—even cooking. The dark meat cooks perfectly alongside the breast meat without it drying out. And flattening the bird exposes all of the skin, resulting in evenly browned, crispy skin.

Another plus: you'll have the backbone to add to the giblets to make a flavorful stock for gravy.

Ingredients

  • For the Turkey:
  • 1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey
  • 6 tablespoons butter (melted, or olive oil)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (minced)
  • Optional: 1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)
  • For the Gravy:
  • 5 cups chicken broth (or turkey broth, low sodium)
  • 2 carrots (cut into 2-inch lengths)
  • 2 ribs celery (cut into 2-inch lengths)
  • 1 medium onion (quartered)
  • Optional: fresh herb sprigs
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

Note: This recipe is broken down into steps to make the turkey and then the gravy for ease of use.

Make the Turkey

  1. Gather the ingredients and preheat the oven to 450 F.

    ingredients for spatchcock turkey
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  2. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and set aside. Dry the turkey thoroughly with paper towels.

    dry the turkey with paper towels
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  3. Find the wishbone. With a sharp knife, carefully cut around the bone and pull the wishbone out. This step will make carving easier.

    cut out the wishbone
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  4. Flip the turkey over. With sturdy kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone, keeping the cut as close to the bone as possible.

    cut one side of the backbone
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  5. Cut down the other side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and set it aside with the giblets for the gravy (below), or freeze it with the giblets for another use.

    the backbone is cut out of the turkey
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  6. Flip the turkey over and twist the legs outward, so they lay flat. If the turkey is slipping on the surface, place a folded kitchen cloth under it. Firmly press down on both sides of the breast until you hear a few cracks. You want the turkey to be as flat as possible.

    crack the breastbone to flatten the bird
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  7. Place the turkey on a rack in a large rimmed baking sheet, broiler pan, or roasting pan. Tuck the wings under the turkey.

    flattened turkey on a rack
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  8. Combine 6 tablespoons of butter or olive oil with the minced herbs and garlic (if using). Brush over the turkey. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the turkey in the oven and add 1 1/2 cups of water to the pan. Roast for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh (not touching bone) registers 165 F.

    brush the turkey with herbs and butter
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  9. Remove the turkey and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

    let the spatchcock turkey rest
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

Make the Gravy

  1. Gather the gravy ingredients.

    ingredients for turkey gravy
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  2. While the turkey roasts, prepare the stock for the gravy. Cut the neck and backbone up and add them to a large saucepan along with the remaining giblets. Add the chicken or turkey broth along with the chopped vegetables and a few sprigs of herbs. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes.

    Strain the stock mixture and discard the solids. If desired, put the stock through a gravy separator and discard part or all of the fat. Set aside.

    simmer the giblets and backbone with aromatics
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  3. In the same pan over medium heat, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, or about 3 minutes.

    make butter and flour roux
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  4. Gradually add the strained stock to the roux while whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Keep warm.

    add strained stock to the roux
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

How to Carve the Spatchcocked Turkey

  1. With a sharp knife, remove the thigh and drumstick from the turkey.

    to carve, start by removing the leg and thigh
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  2. Find the joint of one of the legs and cut through it to separate the thigh and drumstick. Repeat with the other leg. Remove the bones from the thighs. Slice the thighs thinly, if desired.

    separate drumstick and thigh
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  3. Remove the wings; leave them whole or cut them at the joint.

    remove the wings
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  4. Carefully cut one side of the breast meat away from the breastbone. Repeat on the other side. Slice the chicken breasts crosswise into serving-size pieces.

    remove the turkey breasts and slice
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray
  5. Arrange the carved turkey on a large platter.

    arrange the turkey on a platter
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

Tips

  • For extra flavor, brown the neck and backbone pieces in a small amount of oil or butter before adding the broth.
  • If you find it difficult to crack the bones, try standing on a stepstool.
  • A 10 to 12-pound turkey is the best size for spatchcocking and should fit in a half-sheet pan or large broiler pan. You might need an extra-large sheet pan (about 15 x 20) for a larger turkey.