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Looking for a delicious roast turkey recipe? Then you will love this spatchcock turkey with herb butter! Crispy skin, juicy flavorful meat and it only takes 90 minutes to cook! Learn how easy it is to spatchcock and dry brine your Thanksgiving or holiday turkey.

Platter of carved roast turkey garnished with herbs and fresh cranberries.

Why You’ll Love This Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

A spatchcocked turkey that is dry brined and finished with herb butter is my absolute favorite way to cook a turkey. I’ve been making it this way for years now – it’s the best!

  • Crispy Skin + Juicy Meat: It cooks more evenly which results in a turkey with crispy skin and juicy, flavorful meat.
  • Cooks Faster: Takes just 90 minutes (or less) to cook!
  • Easier To Carve: A spatchcock turkey is much easier to carve.
  • Perfect For The Holidays: A super delicious way to cook your Thanksgiving, Christmas or holiday turkey!
Roasted Spatchcock Turkey with herb butter on a platter with herbs, pomegranate and orange slices scattered around.

In This Post

We are going to be covering a lot here! I’ve made it easy to skip directly to a specific section by providing links to the main topics below.

Equipment Needed

To make this roast spatchcock turkey recipe, you will need the following equipment:

  • Baking Sheet: A regular rimmed, uncoated baking sheet (half-sheet sized)
  • Wire Rack: An oven proof, stainless steel wire rack that is designed to fit inside your baking sheet. Make sure the rack you use is not coated and oven safe to high temperatures. This wire rack is perfect for the job. You can also buy it as a baking sheet and rack set if you need both.
  • Poultry Shears: A sharp pair of poultry shears are required if you are spatchcocking the turkey yourself.
  • Digital Meat Thermometer: A digital meat thermometer is the best way to ensure a perfectly cooked turkey.

Best Thermometer For Turkey

Use a tag team duo of two thermometers!

  • Alarm Thermometer: Insert the probe in the thickest part of the breast (making sure not to touch bone). This allows you to track the internal temperature while roasting without needing to open the oven door and it also provides an alert when it is time to pull the turkey out.
  • Instant Read Meat Thermometer: To quickly verify the doneness temps in the breast and thighs.

The dream team duo that I love to use for perfectly cooked turkey is the ChefAlarm and the Thermapen.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Obviously you will need a turkey! A 12-14 pound bird is recommended for this recipe. Besides the turkey, you will also need the following ingredients:

Labelled image of ingredients for dry brine turkey with herb butter.
  • Dry Brine Ingredients: The dry brine is simply a mixture of kosher salt and baking powder (aluminum free).
  • Herb Butter Ingredients: The herb butter is a mixture of butter, sage, thyme, rosemary and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Optional: I also recommend adding some chopped onion, carrot and celery under the turkey if you plan on using the drippings to make them extra flavorful.

Detailed ingredient list and directions located in the recipe card below.

Let’s get started! There are 4 steps to making this turkey: spatchcock, dry brine, spread on herb butter and roast. Let’s start off by learning how to spatchcock and dry brine a turkey…

What Is Spatchcock Turkey?

So you might be wondering what the term “spatchcock” even means (it is a funny little word). To “spatchcock” a turkey simply means to remove the backbone which results in a flattened turkey. So a spatchcocked turkey is just a whole turkey that has had its backbone removed. The turkey is then opened up and laid out flat before roasting. A spatchcock turkey is sometimes also called a butterflied turkey.

Benefits Of Spatchcocking Your Turkey

So why would you spatchcock a turkey? Here are 5 amazing reasons!

  • Cooks Faster: Spatchcocking your turkey speeds up the cooking process – takes about half the time of the traditional method. The flatter surface cooks more evenly and can handle higher heat.
  • Crispier Skin: All of the skin faces upwards and is evenly exposed to the heat resulting in more golden, crispy skin. It’s so good!
  • Evenly Cooked, Juicy Meat: Since the turkey is flat, it cooks much more evenly. Both the breast and leg meat can be done at the same time resulting in juicier meat.
  • Takes Up Less Oven Space: A flat turkey naturally takes up less space in the oven.
  • Make Ahead Gravy: You can use the removed backbone to make this delicious Make Ahead Turkey Gravy recipe. The backbone and neck can be used to make a flavorful broth which allows you to make an amazing gravy in advance (just add in some turkey drippings before serving).

How To Spatchcock A Turkey

Ask the butcher to do it!!! This is my method of choice since it is obviously the easiest. Just make sure to tell the butcher to give you the backbone they cut out so that you can use it for broth or gravy.

If having a butcher do it for you isn’t an option, here are the steps to spatchcock a turkey yourself:

  • Remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey.
  • Using a sharp pair of poultry shears, cut out the backbone of the turkey. Place the turkey breast-side down and cut along both sides of the backbone to remove. Hold onto it for your turkey gravy.
  • Cut a small incision on the cartilage that is between the two breast bone. Optional: You can also remove the whole wishbone to make carving easier later.
  • Flip the turkey over so that it is breast-side up and using both hands, firmly press down on the breast bone to flatten out the turkey (you will hear it crack). Trim off any excess fat or skin you might see near the neck and cavity areas.

You can also watch the process in this great short video I found: Click here to watch!

What size turkey is best for spatchcocking?

A 12-14 pound turkey is ideal since anything larger is difficult to fit on a baking sheet once flattened out. If you need more turkey than this, just roast two 12-14 pound birds. Or you can cut a large turkey in half down the middle and put each half on separate baking sheets (due to the larger breast size, you will probably need to decrease the cooking temperature and increase the time though).

How To Dry Brine A Turkey

To dry brine a 12-14 pound turkey, combine 3 tablespoons kosher salt with 1 tablespoon baking powder and sprinkle it all over the outside and underside of the turkey. You may have extra salt mixture. You want to sprinkle on an even layer all over the turkey but it doesn’t need to be a really thick layer. Discard any extra you might have.

Set a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and place the turkey on top, skin-side up. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1-3 days. For really crispy skin, remove the plastic wrap and leave uncovered in the fridge for the last 12-24 hours.

Note: Make sure to use a natural turkey for this recipe. Dry brining is not suitable for a pre-seasoned or self basting bird. I like to order a local turkey from the butcher shop since it also provides the added bonus of having them spatchcock it for me. If you are in the US, ButcherBox is another option for sourcing a quality turkey.

What does brining do?

Brining improves a turkey’s ability to retain moisture. With dry brining, the salt first draws out the juices and then reabsorbs into the meat and starts breaking down tough muscle proteins, resulting in tender, juicy meat that is seasoned throughout.

Wet vs Dry Brining

There are 2 types of brining: wet and dry. Wet brining is done by placing the turkey in a big container of salted water whereas dry brining is just sprinkling the bird with a salt mixture. I like to dry brine since it is easier, less messy and results in crispy skin. There is no need to worry about water or turkey juices slopping around like there is with wet brining.

What kind of salt should you use?

Use kosher salt! The granules are larger and easier to distribute. Table salt is too fine and will make the turkey too salty.

Why is there baking powder in the dry brine?

Baking powder helps to make the skin crispy and who doesn’t love crispy skin!?! Adding some baking powder to the dry brine mixture (1 part baking powder to 3 parts kosher salt), raises the skin’s pH levels which allows the proteins to break down more efficiently. The result is crispier, more evenly browned skin.

Important! Make sure to use aluminum free baking powder since it has a neutral taste. DO NOT accidentally grab baking soda or your turkey will have a horrible metallic taste.

Do you rinse off the dry brine?

No – don’t rinse it off! The salt will be absorbed and rinsing the turkey will ruin your chances of the perfect crispy skin by undoing all the surface-drying achieved in the dry brine process.

How long do you dry brine a turkey?

Let turkey dry brine for 24 to 72 hours.

Step-By-Step Roast Spatchcock Turkey

Now that we have discussed how to spatchcock and dry brine in detail, let’s walk through the full process of making this delicious roast turkey recipe.

STEP 1: Spatchcock Turkey and Dry Brine

Spatchcock the turkey: Details on how to do this are discussed in detail above.

Create pockets under skin: Using your fingers, gently separate the skin of the turkey from the breast and thigh meat to create pockets. Go in through the bottom of the breast and work up along both breast halves and thighs. Be careful not to tear any holes or detach the skin from the turkey entirely.

Dry brine the turkey: The process is discussed in detail above. You basically just sprinkle on a mixture of kosher salt and baking powder and pop the turkey in the fridge. So EASY!!

Collage graphic showing the two different ways a spatchcock turkey can be placed on a baking sheet.

STEP 2: Prepare Turkey For Roasting

Bring turkey to room temperature: Take turkey out of the fridge 1-2 hours before roasting and pat dry with a paper towel.

Make herb butter for turkey: Mix finely chopped sage, thyme, rosemary and some freshly ground black pepper into some softened butter. Or blitz together in a food processor for a smoother consistency. Spoon some under the skin of the turkey breasts and thighs. Massage the remainder all over the turkey.

Herb butter slathered on a raw spatchcock turkey on a baking sheet.

STEP 3: Roast The Turkey

Roast: Place turkey on a wire baking rack fitted over a foil-lined baking sheet. Pour 3 cups of water into the bottom of the tray to prevent drippings from smoking (along with some chopped onions, carrot and celery for more flavorful drippings). Roast turkey at 450F (425F convection) until a thermometer reads 150F on the breast and at least 165F on the thickest part of the thigh (about 90 minutes or less). If the skin is perfectly browned before the meat is cooked, just cover loosely with foil.

Roast spatchcock turkey on a serving platter garnished with herbs, pomegranate and orange slices.

Tip: Place foil on the oven rack below to catch any excess drippings. Sometimes as the turkey cooks a leg can splay out a bit over the edge of the baking sheet causing drippings to fall to the bottom of the oven which can smoke.

STEP 4: Rest and Carve

Rest: Allow the turkey to rest 20-30 minutes before carving.

Carve + Enjoy! Carve the turkey and enjoy! I like to serve mine with this Make Ahead Turkey Gravy and Cranberry Orange Sauce.

Closeup of some carved spatchcock herb butter turkey on a platter.

Spatchcock Turkey Cooking Time

How long does it take to cook spatchcock turkey? It generally takes about 90 minutes (1 hour 30 minutes) for a 12-14 pound turkey but can also sometimes take less time especially if the turkey is on the smaller end of the size range.

My biggest tip is to always use a meat thermometer! It’s the best way to know when your turkey is cooked perfectly.

How To Carve A Spatchcock Turkey

I find carving a spatchcocked turkey to be a lot easier than a whole turkey. Watch this video to see how it is done.

  • Remove the leg and thigh from each side by slicing through the joints.
  • Remove the wings.
  • Remove the breasts by starting at the breast bone and cutting the turkey breast away from the bone. Repeat on the other side. Then cut each breast into slices.
  • Arrange everything on a platter.
Carved turkey on a platter surrounded by side dishes.
Overhead of a Thanksgiving turkey dinner set out on a wood table.

Ways To Use Leftovers

Don’t toss that turkey carcass when you are done! Transform it into this delicious Turkey Bone Broth (stock) and then make this Easy Turkey Soup with the broth and leftover turkey.

Make sure to also go check out these Leftover Turkey Recipes for tons of amazing ideas to help you transform your turkey leftovers into something delicious!

Pinterest graphic collage for Leftover Turkey Recipes.

Small Turkey Dinner Idea: For a small Thanksgiving dinner, you might also enjoy these Crispy Baked Turkey Wings!

Did you make this spatchcock turkey recipe? Let me know in the comments below or tag me on Instagram!

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Carved dry brined spatchcock turkey with herb butter on a platter garnished with herbs and cranberries.

Dry Brine Spatchcock Turkey With Herb Butter

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 22 reviews
  • Author: Vanessa | Maple + Mango
  • Prep Time: 30 min (plus 1-3 days brining)
  • Cook Time: 90 min
  • Total Time: 2 hours (plus dry brine time)
  • Yield: Serves 10-12
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Roast
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This delicious roast spatchcock turkey with herb butter is juicy, crispy-skinned and only takes 90 minutes to cook! Learn how easy it is to spatchcock and dry brine your Thanksgiving or holiday turkey.


Ingredients

For The Herb Butter

  • 1/2 cup softened butter (can also use ghee)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Equipment Needed:

  • Baking Sheet: A regular rimmed, uncoated baking sheet (half-sheet sized)
  • Wire Rack: Make sure it is ovenproof to high temps, stainless steel and designed to fit inside baking sheet. This wire rack is great for roasting!
  • Poultry Shears: A sharp pair of poultry shears are required if you are spatchcocking the turkey yourself.
  • Digital Meat Thermometer: To ensure a perfectly cooked turkey, I like to use a duo of an alarm thermometer to track the internal temperature while roasting and an instant read thermometer to verify doneness temps in the breast and thighs.

Instructions

  1. Spatchcock the turkey: Ask the butcher to do this for you! Make sure to ask for the backbone to use for stock or gravy.  If having a butcher spatchcock the turkey for you isn’t an option, here are the steps to do it yourself:
    • Remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey.
    • Place the turkey breast-side down and cut along both sides of the backbone with a sharp pair of poultry shears to remove it.
    • Cut a small incision on the cartilage that is between the two breast bone.  Optionally, you could also remove the whole wishbone to make carving easier later.  Flip the turkey over so that it is breast-side up and using both hands, firmly press down on the breast bone to flatten out the turkey (you will hear it crack).  Trim off any excess fat or skin you might see near the neck or cavity areas.
  2. Create pockets under skin: Using your fingers, gently separate the skin of the turkey from the breast and thigh meat to create pockets.  Go in through the bottom of the breast and work up along both breast halves and thighs.  Be careful not to tear any holes or detach the skin from the turkey entirely.
  3. Dry brine turkey: Dry the turkey off with a paper towel.  Combine the kosher salt and baking powder in a small dish.  Sprinkle it all over the outside of the turkey on all sides.  You may have extra salt mixture (you want to sprinkle on an even layer all over the turkey but it doesn’t need to be a really thick layer – simply discard any extra you might have).  Set a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and lay the turkey on top (skin side up).  The direction the turkey sits on the baking sheet depends on the size of the turkey so try both and see which is better.  Loosely cover with some plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1-3 days.  For really crispy skin, remove the plastic wrap and leave uncovered in the fridge for the last 12-24 hours.
  4. Bring turkey to room temperature: Take turkey out of the fridge 1-2 hours before roasting and pat dry with a paper towel.
  5. Make herb butter: Mix together herb butter ingredients in a small bowl (can also blitz in a food processor for a smoother consistency).  Spoon some under the skin of the turkey breasts and press your fingers on top of the skin to spread the butter underneath around evenly.  Do the same thing under the skin on the thighs.  Massage remaining herb butter all over the outside of the turkey.
  6. Prep turkey for oven: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450F (425F convection).  Lay turkey flat on a wire baking rack fitted over a clean foil-lined baking sheet.  The turkey should be skin side up with legs spread out.  Tuck wing tips behind the breasts.  Pour 3 cups water into bottom of the tray to prevent drippings from smoking (along with the optional chopped onion, carrot and celery for more flavorful drippings).
  7. Roast: Roast turkey until a meat thermometer reads 150F on the breast and at least 165F on the thickest part of the thigh (about 90 minutes or less).  If the skin is perfectly browned before the meat is cooked, just cover loosely with foil.  Tip: It can be helpful to place foil on the oven rack below to catch any excess drippings (sometimes a leg can splay out a bit over the baking sheet as the turkey cooks causing drippings to fall to the bottom of the oven which can smoke).
  8. Rest and carve: Let rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.  Enjoy!  I like to serve with Make Ahead Turkey Gravy and Cranberry Orange Sauce and all my favorite side dishes.

Notes

  • Make sure to use a natural turkey! This recipe is not suitable for a preseasoned or self basting bird.  You can find natural turkeys at the butcher shop, in many grocery stores or have it delivered through ButcherBox.
  • Salt: Use kosher salt to dry brine.  The granules are larger and easier to distribute.  Table salt is too fine and will make the turkey too salty.
  • Baking Powder: The baking powder helps to make the skin crispy.  Make sure to use aluminum free baking powder since it has a neutral taste.  DO NOT accidentally grab baking soda or your turkey will have a horrible metallic taste.
  • Keep the turkey carcass to make Turkey Bone Broth (stock).
  • Meat thermometers: The thermometer duo that I love to use for perfectly cooked turkey is the ChefAlarm to monitor while roasting (without opening oven door) and the Thermapen to quickly verify doneness in multiple areas.
  • Check out the post for more details and FAQ on the spatchcocking, dry brining and carving process.

About Vanessa Gilic

I want to help you make delicious food using real ingredients! Explore a variety of easy to follow, real-food recipes ranging from healthy eats to comfort food. Welcome to Maple + Mango – I'm so happy you're here!

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43 Comments

  1. Fouzia says:

    Your turkey looks scrumptiously delicious! Amazing technique of dry brining the turkey and using herb butter which is making my mouth water. I just can’t wait to try it so I am going to try it on the chicken this weekend. Thanks for sharing your recipe.






  2. Kristen says:

    This is what we’re doing for Christmas this year and I will definitely ask the butcher to do it. I’ve done chickens but I venture a guess a turkey would be a lot harder to spatchcock. Can’t wait to give this a try, it sounds incredible.






    1. Vanessa Gilic says:

      I always by my turkey from a local butcher for this reason lol. The easiest way to do it is to have them do it haha.

  3. Bernice says:

    Wow! I can’t believe how easy it is to spatchcock a turkey. All these years I’ve been missing out and doing it the HARD way. Your instructions were excellent and my turkey turned out perfectly. I’m never roasting a whole turkey again!






  4. Asha says:

    I never tried the spatchcock method before. Since I had a turkey on hand I decided to give it a try. The turkey turned out juicy and delicious.






  5. Emily says:

    I had never tried cooking turkey this way before – I’m a convert, everyone loved it! This is going on the Thanksgiving menu for sure. This recipe deserves 5 stars and I appreciate the step by step photos!






  6. Colleen says:

    I need a change from my usual roast turkey this year and you have me convinced to cook a spatchcock turkey! I love the dry brine idea too. That crispy skin is my favorite part!






  7. Marie-Pierre says:

    That’s new to me! A Dry brine! I’m definitely trying this turkey this year for Xmas; I love a crispy salty skin! Yum!






    1. Vanessa Gilic says:

      You’ll love it! Dry brines are so easy and much less messy than a wet brine! Plus you get that gorgeous crispy skin!