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Easy Steps to Spatchcock (Butterfly) a Turkey

by Rootstock Editor

Sept. 8, 2021

by Rootstock Editor

One of the benefits of spatchcocking, otherwise known as butterflying, a Thanksgiving turkey is how much time you will save. What is it to spatchcock a turkey? Basically, it’s a way of cutting a turkey (or any fowl) to remove the backbone and lay it flat.

A spatchcocked turkey cooks in less than half the time of a full bird and it makes a delicious centerpiece for all of your holiday gatherings. The meat stays moist and the skin is crispy and golden brown.

A spatchcocked turkey also takes up less space in the oven. We all struggle with oven space during the holidays. By spatchcocking you will have room for side dishes.

Spatchcocking a turkey is not difficult (practice butterflying a chicken to gain confidence!). So how do you spatchcock a turkey?

You Will Need:

  • A sharp set of poultry shears or butcher knife (we suggest a butcher knife unless your shears are extremely sharp)
  • Cutting board
  • Whole thawed skin-on Organic Prairie turkey
  • Rimmed baking sheet and a wire rack (no special roasting pan needed)

Cut Out the Backbone and Remove

Place the turkey breast side down on a cutting board. Starting at the neck, use a butcher knife to cut along both sides of the backbone (spine) and remove it. Set the backbone aside (you can wrap and freeze it to make stock later).

Starting to spatchcock a whole organic turkey by cutting it down the side of the backbone.

Cut along both sides of the turkey’s spine.

Once you cut down the sides of the backbone you can remove it.

Remove the backbone and set aside.

Flatten the Turkey

Flip the turkey over so it is breast side up. Firmly press down on the center of the breast with the heel of your hand until you feel and hear the breastplate break (it will take a little muscle but it will happen). Spread the turkey out evenly and flatten it. If desired, fold the wings under the arms to prevent blackening. You may also want to cut off excess skin from the neck.

Breaking the breastplate and flattening the bird are the next step to spatchcocking a turkey.

Use the heel of your hand to break the breastplate.

You Did It! Now Season and Cook

Rub the turkey with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Place it breast side up on a wire rack on a baking sheet. That’s it—place it in a preheated 325 F oven. How long to cook a spatchcock turkey? Depending on the size of the turkey, it will take about an hour and a half to cook. Once it has beautiful, crispy brown skin and the meat is cooked to 165 F, pull it out. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and the juicy turkey is ready to serve!

Put the turkey on a wire rack that is placed on a baking sheet.

Season the turkey and place it in the oven.

The cooked Thanksgiving turkey will be nice and crisp.

When the turkey is cooked to 165 F, remove it from the oven and let it rest.