How to Spatchcock a Turkey for Great Results Every Time

How to Spatchcock a Turkey for Great Results Every Time


Over the years, the team at All Things Barbecue has cooked hundreds of turkeys. We’ve cooked whole turkeys, we’ve cooked turkeys that have been trimmed into quarters, and we've cooked spatchcocked turkeys. Every method has its place, but here’s a secret: we prefer a spatchcock turkey.

Preparing a spatchcock turkey simply means removing the backbone and pressing the turkey down flat. This results in an evenly cooked turkey with the dark meat and white meat ready at the same time. A spatchcocked turkey also tends to cook quicker, saving you time in your busy Thanksgiving schedule..

Below is a step-by-step guide through the process of spatchcocking a turkey.

Gather Your Gear

Start by gathering poultry shears, a boning knife, a large cutting board and kitchen towels. We also recommend nitrile gloves to improve grip and food safety, and speed you through the process.

Unwrap the turkey and remove the giblets and neck and set them aside. Place your turkey breast side down on a cutting board large enough to accommodate the turkey.

A raw turkey can be slippery, so we recommend patting it dry with paper towels and then setting a damp kitchen towel under your cutting board to keep it from sliding around.

The Spatchcock Process

Using your poultry shears, cut right along one side of the backbone, then turn the turkey around and repeat on the other side of the backbone to remove it.

*Don't forget to save the backbone for making turkey stock.

Using your poultry shears or boning knife you can now remove the ribs, wishbone and any other loose bones along the spine.

Removing these bones now will make carving the turkey much easier and will improve the presentation on the platter.

Once the backbone, ribs and wishbone have been removed, you need to turn your attention to the breast bone.

Using your poultry shears make a cut at the top of the bone, about an inch in. This makes it so that less force is needed when pressing down on the breast to lay the bird flat.

Now that the breast bone has been cut you can place the palms of both hands on either side and press down until you hear, and feel, the breastbone crack.

At this point you can flip the turkey over and you are ready to season and cook it however you would like.

The Spatchcock Difference: Cutting out the backbone allows you to spread the turkey out so the breasts, thighs and legs all cook at an even rate--something you do not get on a whole turkey.