How to Spatchcock and Smoke a Whole Turkey
- by Omaha Steaks
- Last updated Oct 24, 2023
You’ve probably heard the word somewhere on a cooking show by now… but did you know that a spatchcocked turkey is actually really easy to do at home? Try something new this holiday season with not just a spatchcocked turkey, but one that’s also smoked for even more flavor. Spatchcocking is a great choice for a big bird, because it helps it smoke faster and makes it easier for you to get really juicy results. Follow this step-by-step guide to spatchcock and smoke a whole turkey yourself!
Why spatchcock a turkey?
Sure, you can smoke a whole turkey without spatchcocking it first, but there are several benefits of this method. Spatchcocking is the process of splitting open your bird and removing the backbone so it can lay flat on the smoker. Your turkey will cook in way less time and more evenly since there is more surface area on the bird. The skin will be crispier and the meat will be juicier with that signature smoke flavor. The end results look amazing and, let’s be honest, ‘spatchcock’ is just fun to say.
Before you spatchcock a turkey
There are a few key steps before you spatchcock a turkey. The most important is to ensure your turkey is 100% defrosted. Frozen turkeys take at least 3 days to thaw completely. Plan at least 24 hours for every five pounds. Before cooking, make sure to remove the plastic tie and pop-up timer.
Next, prepare our herbed butter to season your turkey with the recipe below. The butter and fresh herbs will provide incredible flavor and give the skin extra crisp. You can make the compound butter up to 3 days in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Allow butter to come to room temperature before using.
Finally, preheat your gas or charcoal smoker to 250°F. Your turkey will cook low and slow, so it’s important for your smoker to not only be preheated, but to also maintain a consistent temperature during your cook.
How to spatchcock a whole turkey
Spatchcocking a turkey requires a little elbow work, but the results are worth it. Start by patting the turkey dry, then turn turkey over with breast side down on a large cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone and remove the entire backbone. You can save the backbone to make turkey stock.
Once the backbone is removed, flip the turkey back over. Rotate both thighs until they are flat on the cutting board. Using your palms, press down on the breastbone until it breaks. You will hear a crack and the turkey will lay flat. Finally, tuck the wing tips in and your bird is fully spatchcocked and ready to season.
How to season the turkey
Incredible flavor starts with a savory seasoning. Use our compound herbed butter recipe to add moistness to the bird and delectable flavor. Spread the prepared herbed butter under the skin on all sides. If desired, place fresh parsley leaves under the skin. Finally, using your hands, rub the exterior of turkey liberally with olive oil or butter and season both sides with our Omaha Steaks Seasoning or your favorite rub.
How to smoke a spatchcocked turkey
Once the bird is spatchcocked and seasoned, it’s ready to smoke. Place the prepared turkey directly on clean and oiled grill grates of your preheated 250°F smoker and close the grill lid.
Smoke the turkey for approximately 12-15 minutes per pound. Try to keep the temperature at a consistent 250°F for an even smoke and to avoid flareups. While it’s tempting to peek, it’s important to keep the lid closed. Remember, if you’re lookin’, it ain’t cookin’.
Your turkey is fully cooked when the breast and thigh portions reach an internal temperature of 165°F, measured by a meat thermometer. Once fully cooked, remove your turkey from the smoker. The easiest way to keep the bird from sticking to the grill grates bird is to loosen all sides first with a metal spatula before transferring to a cutting board.
Finally, tent the bird with foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Cutting a turkey too soon is one of the 10 biggest turkey cooking mistakes. The final step is the easiest, but very important to allow the juices to reabsorb and keep your meat moist. Cut too soon and the juices will leak out, leaving your meat drier than you wanted. Besides, a super-hot turkey is no fun to carve.
Spatchcock Smoked Herb Turkey
- 8 T. unsalted butter softened
- 1 T. fresh sage minced
- 1 T. fresh rosemary minced
- 1 T. fresh thyme minced
- 2 tsp. coarse Kosher salt
- 2 tsp. coarse black pepper
- 4 T. Italian flat leaf leaf parsley leaves
- Preheat your smoker or indirect grill to 250 degrees F.
- Combine softened butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Remove thawed turkey from packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Remove plastic trussing and pop up timer. Flip your turkey breast side down on your cutting board. Starting on one side of the backbone, use a sharp knife or shears to cut a straight line from the tailbone to the neck. Repeat on the other side of the backbone and cut all the way through until you can remove the backbone completely.
- Turn the turkey over onto its back. Turn out the thighs until they lay flat on the cutting board. Using both hands, press firmly on the breastbone of the turkey until you feel a snap and the breast presses down to the cutting board. Take the wing tips and tuck behind the back of the turkey.
- Using your fingers loosen the skin of the turkey, distribute the herbed butter evenly under the skin. Place parsley leaves under the skin of the turkey.
- Drizzle the turkey with olive oil or butter, season with Omaha Steaks Seasoning orrub. Carefully transfer to the grill grate. Close the lid and roast for 2- 2 1/2hours approximately 12-15 minutes per pound, or until an internal thermometerreads a minimum of 165 degrees F in the breasts and thighs.
- Remove the turkey from the grill and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
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