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Spatchcocked Poultry

First of all, what is Spatchcocking?

When I first learned of this technique some time ago, that was my immediate question. So without all the fluff, I thought we'd cut right into it (yep, pun intended) lol!

Spatchcock is really just a fancy term for butterflying. As awful as it sounds, we cut the backbone out of the chicken, turkey or poultry of your choice, and press the bird flat. Eliminating the center cavity and flattening the bird allows the heat to completely surround it, making cooking time faster, which also means more juices stay in the meat and not the pan. The result is super juicy poultry in about half as much time as the traditional method.

Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 1 hr 20 mins Servings: 8 to 10

Spatchcocked Turkey


  • 1 (12 to 13 pound) turkey, completely thawed if previously frozen

  • 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 4 carrots

  • 1 large onion

  • 4 ribs celery


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  • Line a large rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Very coarsely chop veggies and scatter them in the pan. Set aside.

  • Remove giblets and neck from the turkey. Save for stock of stew, if desired.

  • Place the carcass breast side down on a composite, plastic, or rubber cutting board. As much as I love wooden boards, I don’t like the idea of poultry juices soaking into the cracks and crevices.

  • Pat the turkey dry with paper towels to make it easier to handle.

  • Use a large pair of sharp poultry shears to cut the backbone out of the turkey.

  • Start at the tail and cut up one side of the back bone, then the other side. Some bones may be a little tougher to cut through, so you may need both hands on the shears, especially if you have smaller hands (like I do). You can also use a chef knife for this, but I find the shears much safer and easier. (You can discard the backbone or use it to make stock for gravy.) To make carving even easier, remove the wish bone by making a thin incision with the tip of a paring knife or boning knife along both sides of it, and pulling it out with your fingers. Although it is not part of spatchcocking, I highly recommend removing the wishbone before starting. Carving the breast area will be easier.

  • It gets a little barbaric here, but stay with this. Flip the turkey over, spread out the legs and wings as much as possible. Place both hands firmly in the center of the breast and press down forcefully to flatten the turkey, the flatter the better. It may take a few tries and you'll probably hear some bones breaking ( I know, ewww). You can also now remove the excess skin around the neck and tail if you like.

  • Place turkey on a rack or directly on top of vegetables in the pan.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, poultry seasoning, pepper, and salt together. Dry the turkey again with a few paper towels then liberally brush the entire turkey (including the inside) with the mixture. You can even rub some under the skin of the breasts for even more flavor. Then tuck the wings tips under the turkey to keep them from burning or just clip them off.

  • Cook the turkey for 1hr to 1:20hr (rotating the pan about halfway through cooking) or until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F (the breast should read about 155°F) when tested with a meat thermometer. If the turkey starts to burn, reduce the heat a or cover the darkest part of it with aluminum foil to keep it from browning further. Each turkey and oven is a little different so you may need to make some minor adjustments as it's cooking to make sure it's cooked completely without drying out.

  • Allow the turkey to rest for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute then carve as normal.

Notes & Tips:

Residual heat continues to cook food once it's out of the oven, so the internal temp will rise more even after being taken out.

Seasoning and vegetables are extremely flexible, according to your preference and taste.

This method can be used on any poultry.

Depending on oven power, you may need to start a 375°F for 1 hr 30 minutes, then increase the temperature to 400°F and roast until skin is golden brown and crisp, about 10-15 minutes.

For more main dishes, appetizers and sides, get your e-book copy of Flexitarian Forward!

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