It's a word that sounds funny, but spatchcocking a turkey prior to cooking it provides an amazing outcome.

Hi, I'm John, and I am not a professional chef (that's a disclaimer, folks).

Each year for Thanksgiving we go to the In-Laws home for the Thanksgiving meal - wherein I give thanks for the wonderful people in my partner's family.

I also bring my own turkey, because Alexandria.

Spatchcocking a turkey is a great way to have amazing results with the finished product.

But "What is spatchcocking?", you ask (you asked, didn't you?). Well, I'll tell you - it's a fancy way of saying "butterflied".

Your next question is probably, "Can I butterfly a Butterball?". That dad joke still needs a punchline.

Spatchcocking a turkey (or chicken, or any other bird) is basically a two-step process: first, you cut out the backbone. Then you crack the breastbone so the bird lays out flat (like a butterfly with its wings fully extended).

Here's what a spatchcocked turkey looks like in a non-professional, 2-butt kitchen.

Staff Photo

When you put a spatchcocked turkey in the oven or on the grill, the thickness of the turkey is more evenly distributed. Instead of trying to cook a ball, you're cooking a thick steak (yes, you are cooking a turkey, the steak reference was just for comparison - you know what I'm saying).

Spatchcocking a turkey is relatively easy with the right tools. Kitchen shears are what I use because one blade has a cutout in it that makes it easier to cut through bone.


Take your shears or a sturdy knife and start curring the rib bones right next to the base of the neck and work your way down one side until you've reached the keister. Then do the same on the other side of the neck.

Once the backbone is removed, save it for making stock.

After the backbone is removed, take your knife or kitchen shears (curved shears are easiest for this task) and, working in the cavity of the bird, cut through the breastbone WITHOUT cutting all the way through to the skin side of the turkey.

Once you have cut through the breastbone, turn the turkey over so that the skin side is up. Then, using your hands and a good bit of pressure, perform CPR on the bird until you hear the rest of the breastbone crack through or until the bird lies (relatively) flat.

Now, you have a spatchcocked turkey.

Cooking a spatchcocked turkey in the oven or on the grill is done relatively the same way a regular turkey is done, it'll just cook a little quicker and more evenly.

No, it doesn't look like a traditional Thanksgiving turkey, but a spatchcocked turkey cooked properly will have most of the bird cooked evenly, not leaving you with some parts juicy and some parts dry.

Staff Photo

As you can see, the turkey is having a grand time on the grill and decided to give a wave when I took the photo.

The recipe I am using for this bird was from TheBBQBuddha's website.

They recommend cooking the turkey at 275 degrees for the first hour, then increasing the temperature to 350 degrees until the desired doneness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, let's talk about side dishes...

Acadiana's Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes


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