Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

If you’re planning on cooking a large turkey for Thanksgiving – or if you are short on time – you might want to check out this this Spatchcock Smoked Turkey method.

Spatchcocking or removing the backbone is great for larger birds. It allows the turkey to lay flat on the cooking grate and helps the meat cook more evenly. It’s also great if you’re limited on shelf space in your smoker.

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

To spatchcock a whole turkey first remove the tail; flip the bird breast side down and grab a pair of kitchen shears. Make a cut along one side of the backbone with the shears from the bottom to the top of the spine.

Repeat the same cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it. Use a sharp knife to separate the wish bone and press down on the turkey. It will spread out and lay flat. At this point you can also trim away any fat or sinew inside the cavity.

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

Dry the cavity or bone side of the turkey with paper towel, spray with olive oil cooking spray, and season the bird with your favorite dry rub. I use a layer of Killer Hogs AP Rub followed by Swine Life Mississippi Grind. Flip the turkey over skin-side up and repeat the same process.

To get more flavor into the meat I use an injection. Mix I level scoop of Butcher’s Bird Booster with 2 cups of cold water and wisk. You can substitute your favorite injection as well.

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

To cook the turkey I’m using my Memphis Wood Fire pellet smokers running pecan pellets for flavor. Any smoker will do the job just run it at 275-300⁰ the entire cook.

Place the turkey breast/skin-side up on the cooking rack and arrange the legs and wings so the bird remains as flat as possible. Touch up any areas that need it with rub and smoke for 1 hour.

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

At this point start basting the skin as needed. In a small pot melt a stick of butter with a bundle of poultry herbs and a few cloves of garlic. Drizzle this mixture over the skin to help it brown.

It will eventually start to turn a beautiful golden brown color. To keep it from getting too dark lay a couple pieces of aluminum foil over the bird (don’t wrap it tight). The turkey is done when a probe thermometer reads 165⁰ in the thickest portion of the breast. At this point carefully remove the turkey from the smoker and rest loosely covered for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

The skin on this turkey turned out incredible. The savory seasonings and melted butter create the perfect bite through crust and the meat was dripping with juice after I carved it. Give this spatchcock technique a try the next time you smoke a turkey.

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Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

Ingredients

  • 18-20lb Whole Turkey
  • 2 cups Water
  • ¼ cup Butcher’s Bird Booster Injection
  • 2 Tabelspoons Killer Hogs AP Rub
  • 2 Tabelspoons Swine Life Mississippi Grind
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1 bundle Poultry Herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, Sage)
  • 3 cloves Garlic

Instructions

  1. Thaw frozen turkey in refrigerator for 5 days; remove neck and giblet bag, rinse, and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Remove the tail with a sharp knife, flip the turkey breast side down and cut along each side of the backbone with kitchen shears. Discard backbone and use a sharp knife to cut through the breast bone (wish-bone) allowing the turkey to lay flat.
  3. Trim away and sinew or fat from the bone side of the turkey and dry the cavity with paper towel. Spray with Olive Oil cooking spray and season with a layer of AP and MS Grind rubs.
  4. Flip the turkey over breast/skin side up; use paper towel to completely dry the skin and spray with olive oil cooking spray; season the skin side with AP followed by MS Grind rubs.
  5. Mix the Butchers injection with 2 cups of water. Inject the breast, thighs, legs, and wings with the mixture.
  6. Prepare smoker for indirect cooking using your favorite wood or smoking pellets for flavor. The smoker should be at 275-300⁰ the entire cook.
  7. Place turkey skin side up on the smoker. Tuck the wings and arrange the legs so the bird lays flat on the rack. Add additional MS Grind as needed to cover the places where touched.
  8. Smoke the turkey for 1 hour then baste. Heat the butter with the herbs and garlic in a small pot until melted; keep warm. Use a basting brush to drizzle the melted butter mixture over the skin as the turkey cooks.
  9. Cook the turkey until a probe thermometer reads 165⁰ in the thickest part of the breast. Rest the turkey for 5-10 minutes and cut into desired portions.

Malcom Reed
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Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

Comments 33

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  1. Malcolm, can’t wait to try this Thursday. About how many hours will a bird that size take? Minutes per pound. Thanks! Keep up the good work.

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  2. Hello Malcom,

    I just started smoking last year, and follow all your recipes.. I started with chicken, brisket, and turkey…all have turned out perfect.
    My question: Do you use water when you are smoke?

    Thank you so much for your videos.
    Billy Garrett

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  3. Hi Malcom. I love your website and appreciate the recipes you share. For the Spatchcock smoked turkey, how long do you cook a 20lb turkey? I’m trying to get an idea of how long this will take.

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  4. Great Video, I’m giving this recipe a try! Do you get a nice crispy skin doing it this way? I cooked one at 350 and it was crispy in some places and rubbery in others. I did not really use any fat howevr.

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  5. Love your videos! I’m going to do two turkeys the morning of and then take them to our family’s Thanksgiving. What would you suggest I do to warm them up before carving? I have the option of the oven or I can throw them on my uncle’s pellet grill if that would be better. Thanks again for all the great eats!

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  6. I don’t have the Mississippi Grind, but have the AP rub and both the hot and bbq rub. What would you suggest in place of the Grind?

    Thank you,

    Jeff

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  7. Just wanted to say thanks for the great instructions on the spatchcocked turkey. This will be my first attempt at smoking a bird of any kind so I’m very happy to see your detailed information. Thanks again and keep the tips coming.

  8. I’m going to cook your cajun smoked turkey. On my pellet grill. I’m going to spatchcock it. Can I also put butter under skin or do you think I don’t need to do this ? Also do you use vegetable or olive oil spray ?

  9. Used you spatchcock recipe as my cooking guide. The bird was a total wow. She who must be obeyed has told me from now on I cook the bird. Thank you for the tips and the courage to do it this way.

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