Smoked Spatchcock Turkey
What is Spatchcock?
Essentially, to spatchcock is to remove the backbone of the bird (or “butterfly”), leaving the two parts connect it and then flatten it out by breaking the ribcage. This helps it cook more evenly and it also reduces cooking time.
As mentioned above, the primary reasons for doing this is because it reduces cooking time, helps cook more evenly and also helps avoid overcooking.
How to Spatchcock a Turkey
Admittedly, there is something a little intimidating about cutting the backbone out of a turkey but in reality, it’s pretty easy and definitely makes a great turkey! It really only requires two steps:
Step 1 | Remove the backbone. You can do this using sharp kitchen shears or a knife.
Step 2 | Flatten bird down by breaking ribcage so the two sides can butt up against each other. Tuck wing tips in.
You will end up with a bird that looks like this:
Tips to Spatchcock a Turkey
- Make sure you are using sharp kitchen shears or a knife to cut out the backbone or it will be much more difficult to remove the backbone.
- Use a paper towel inside the turkey while you are cutting the backbone to keep a firm grip on the bird.
- If you don’t want to break down the bird by breaking the rib cage with your hands, you can also cut a slit in between the breast bone which will help.
- I like to brine my turkeys prior to smoking. I think it results in an overall much more moist turkey. You can wet brine or dry brine and to be honest, I think both options work great.
Why Smoke a Turkey?
I think smoking a turkey imparts a wonderful flavor that you don’t otherwise get with turkey. Admittedly, turkey can sometimes be bland so I think this helps give it some much needed flavor and oomph. It also cooks faster which is nice.
Favorite Tools for Smoking a Spatchcock Turkey
ThermoWorks Smoke 2 Channel Temperature Probe | Great for measuring the temp of the bird & the pit with an alarm
ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 | I like to use this to get an instant read on all parts of the bird which makes it easy to know if the thigh and breast is done
Turkey Brining Container | An easy way to store your turkey while you brine it. I like to use these Cambro containers much more than bags since they’re more sturdy!
Turkey Brine | A pre-made brine makes things easy and helps keep you
BBQ Gloves | I like using these loading and unloading from the grill
Kitchen Shears | To cut out the backbone!
Kitchen Knife | If you’d rather use a knife then the kitchen scissors to cut out the backbone.
*If you’d rather cook the turkey whole, check out my post on How to Smoke a Turkey.
Smoked Spatchcock Turkey
- 1 turkey (mine was 13lbs, you can use bigger or smaller)
- 1 bottle white wine
For herb butter:
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 1 bunch sage
- 1 bunch thyme
(Optional) Start by brining the turkey 48 hours before you're going to cook it (if you're doing a wet brine otherwise you can do a dry brine 24 hours before).
Once the turkey has been brined, clean it out and set aside the neck, heart, giblets, etc. for gravy (if making).
Pat the turkey dry.
Grib the inside of the bird (using a paper towel is handy) and cut the backbone out of the bird using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife. You can save the backbone for making stock for gravy, if you'd like.
Once the backbone has been removed, put the turkey breast side up on a cutting board and using your hand, break the ribcage by pressing firmly down. You can also break the breast bone a little with the tip of your knife from the inside to help with this step.
Tuck the wings under the turkey breast.
Put the turkey on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and put in fridge for 24 hours (this will help with crispy skin).
Heat Big Green Egg or smoker of choice to 325-350 degrees.
Take the turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Make turkey herb butter: let 2 sticks of butter sit at room temp and then mix in herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, etc. Once made, save about 1/4 cup and then rub the rest all over the turkey and get some under the skin too.
Season all over with seasoning of choice (I used Hardcore Carnivore Red).
Once smoker is ready, put turkey directly on grates (with drip pan underneath) and close the lid.
Melt extra herb butter in a bowl and then add 1 cup white wine. Use this to baste your turkey every 30 minutes or so.
Pull the turkey when breast and thigh both register at 165 degrees.
Allow turkey to rest at least 30 minutes prior to carving. You can tent it lightly with foil to keep it warm (but don't completely wrap in foil or you'll lose crispy skin)