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How Long To Cook a Spatchcocked Turkey?

Spatchcocking means removing the backbone of poultry and flattening the bird before roasting. And it’s one of the oldest and biggest tricks for quickly roasting Thanksgiving birds in the oven, including the larger turkeys. But not everyone knows about it or why it’s such a handy technique.

Why Cook a Spatchcocked Turkey?

You may feel that making a spatchcocked turkey is unnecessary to add to an already tedious dinner-making experience. But before overlooking this cooking method, consider these advantages;

Turkey Cooks Faster- The flattening out of the bird means it roasts quicker, such that you can even have it in the oven by late afternoon, and it’ll be done by dinnertime!

You Can Skip Bringing- You can control the gravy’s flavor or make it only from the cut-out spine.

No More Overcooked Breasts- Once the turkey is spatchcocked, the breasts tuck in such that they contract, allowing them to cook almost at the same pace.

It Takes Less Space- You can roast a large bird and still have more than enough room to spare in the oven for other things.

Spatchcocked Turkey Cooking Procedures

Though it’s a sure way to ease preparing such a large bird, spatchcocked turkey still comes with a set of instructions and rules.

Thaw the Bird

Remember that a thawed bird is best for spatchcocking than a solid frozen one. So, if you’re cutting out the spine yourself, ensure to thaw the turkey beforehand. This defrosting could take days, depending on how long it’s been frozen. So, keep it in the fridge and wait until you can push the thighs sideways without any icy resistance.

Self or Butcher-Spatchcock?

It’s always easier to let the butcher spatchcock the turkey for you, as it saves time and effort. So, if you have such a chance, take it. But remember to ask him to add the spine to the giblets so that you can use it for gravy.

You can also cut the backbone yourself. And it starts with finding the sharpest pair of kitchen shears you can find. Then, blot the excess moisture off the bird, then place it breast-side down. Slice the backbone from pole to pole, cutting halfway from one end, then turn and finish from the other end. Do it for both sides of the spine, and you’ll be done in no time.

Then, once the spine has been cut out, position the turkey, breast-side up again. Then, press down the skin-side so the breastbone breaks and the bird flatten. You can also slice through the breastbone from the cartilage joint inside without piercing the turkey’s skin.

Seasoning Options

You can opt for the traditional brining method of salt or herbed salt, but it requires you to wait overnight or for days. Still, bringing has been used to flavor turkey for years, so why not plan the time? You can also consider a liberal rub of olive oil, salt, and pepper, after which the bird can sit for three to five hours before roasting.


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Cooking Time for Spatchcocked Turkey

Calculate the cooking time at six minutes per pound, meaning a 12-pounder will need about 72 minutes. At 450F, most average-sized spatchcocked turkeys will cook uninterrupted for 30 minutes, after which the temperature will be dropped to 400F- 350F if the bird browns too quickly. But larger ones will need 425F for 30 minutes, after which it’ll be dropped to 375F.

Cook the bird until its thickest part reads 165F. And start checking for it around 50 minutes of cooking time.

More Tips

  • Add a cup of water to the pan so the drippings don’t brown.
  • Roast the backbone separately to use in gravy.
  • Consider roasting the turkey on a bed of vegetables and aromatics for more flavor.
  • Shield the breast with foil about 45 to 50 minutes into the cooking time.
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Oven-Roasted Spatchcocked Turkey (10 Servings)

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  • One whole turkey, 12 pounds
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, extra-virgin
  • Ten garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • Half teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Prepare the oven to 450F and while it heats up, position the turkey on a cutting platform with the breast side up. Slice out the backbone, turn the turkey over and flatten by pressing it down. Then, move it into a roasting pan with the breast side up again, ensuring the wings shield the breast. Also, allow the legs to poke out a bit.
  2. Tuck the garlic and thyme in the legs and wing’s nooks and under the bird. Then, drizzle the bird with olive oil and season with pepper and salt to taste.
  3. Roast the turkey uninterrupted for 20 minutes until it browns. Then, remove the bird and baste with its pan juice. Then, return the turkey to the oven and turn down the heat to 400F or 350F if the browning is too quick.
  4. About 15 minutes later, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. The turkey is ready when it reads 165F on this kitchen tool. Ensure to check at its thickest parts; the thighs and breast.
  5. Once the turkey is done, bring it out and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then serve topped with the pan juice and garlic cloves.

More ideas can be found here.

  • Author: Bobby