To spatchcock a turkey, first, remove the backbone by cutting along each side of it with a sharp knife. Then, turn the turkey over and press down on the breastbone to flatten it so you can lay it flat on a roasting tray.
The process of spatchcocking a turkey is also sometimes referred to as butterflying and has many benefits.
Spatchcocking a turkey as well as a chicken before putting it in the oven will drastically reduce cooking time, helps the meat stay moist, and make the skin more crispy and evenly cooked.
Top Tip: To flatten the turkey, you’ll need to cut the backbone out. Technically you could do this with a sharp knife, but it is a lot easier using kitchen scissors or poultry shears.
So, how much faster can you cook your turkey? Here are spatchcock turkey cook times by weight.Jump To Recipe
Does a Spatchcocked Turkey Really Cook Faster?
Yes! Preparing turkey with the spatchcock technique can reduce cooking times by almost half, making it one of the most efficient ways to speed up your Christmas or thanksgiving dinner.
The reason? A larger surface area. By laying the turkey flat, you ensure its size is more evenly distributed across the surface, giving it a lot better heat exposure and faster and more even cooking.
Because everything is evenly flattened out on the roasting tray, all the different parts of the bird cook evenly, minimizing overcooking some parts and keeping everything equally moist and juicy.
In addition, because of the flat surface, seasoning the bird becomes much easier, giving you a much even result. No soggy and unseasoned skin on the underside.
Top Tip: Rub the turkey with melted clarified butter and sprinkle with kosher salt and your favorite turkey rub before roasting; this helps the skin brown really well. Regular melted butter could also work, but the milk solids might start to smoke in the oven.
Spatchcocked Turkey Cooking Temperature?
When cooking a spatchcocked turkey, start with high heat. Beginning with higher temperatures helps you achieve crispy golden brown skin.
If your turkey is on the small side, I would recommend that you start in a 425°F (245°C) preheated oven, and for a bigger turkey, start cooking at 400°F (204°C) preheated oven. Then lower the temperature after 20 or 30 minutes.
My suggestion? Lower it to 375°F (190°C) for smaller turkeys and 350°F (177°C) for larger ones.
Important poultry safety rule! You will know when the turkey is done and safe to eat once the thickest part of the thigh and breast reaches 165°F (74°C) .
Top Tip: If the bird is beginning to brown too much but still not fully cooked inside, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and continue roasting.
Recommended Cooking Times For Spatchcock Turkey?
Ideally, your spatchcock turkey cooking time will be determined by the time it takes for its inner temperature to reach 165°F (74°C) as a manner of safety. Luckily, there is an easy formula you can remember.
According to Devon O’Brien from EatingWell, the rule or recommendation to follow is that it takes approximately ten minutes to cook each pound of spatchcock turkey. Subsequently, depending on the weight of the bird, multiply it by 10 to get an approximate recommended cooking time .
In comparison, for turkey that is not butterflied or cut open and flattened, so to speak, the approximate recommended cooking time is 15 minutes to 20 minutes for stuffed turkey per pound. As you can see, this can add up quite a lot and increase the final cooking time, especially if you are roasting a large bird.
To make things easier for you, take a look at the detailed cooking time instructions below according to each popular turkey size.
Cooking Time For A 5-6 LB Spatchcocked Turkey
- Feeds: 5-6 people.
- Cooking time: 50-60 minutes.
- Temperature: 375°F (190°C).
Considered very small, a turkey ranging from 5 lb (2 kg) to 6 lb (3kg) is about the size of a large chicken. It is recommended to cook within the 375°F – 400°F (190°C – 204°C) range. Likewise, they require careful monitoring of the inner temperature to prevent drying out.
So, following the 10-minute rule, a 5 lb (2 kg) spatchcocked turkey will need to cook for about 50 minutes, while a 6 lb (3 kg) one will need about 60 minutes of cooking time.
Top Tip: Once you have roasted the turkey for the calculated time, use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature, which should be no less than 165°F (74°C), or make sure the juices run clear from the thickest part of the thigh if you pierce it with a skewer or a knife.
Read more here: How To Tell When Your Poultry Is Done Without a Thermometer? (5 Effective Methods).
Cooking Time For A 7-8 LB Spatchcocked Turkey
- Best size to feed: 7-9 people.
- Cooking time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
- Temperature: 375°F (190°C).
By following the rule set above, a 7 lb (3 kg) spatchcock turkey would need an hour and ten minutes to cook, while an 8 lb (3.5 kg) one requires an hour and thirty minutes.
Baste it about every 30 minutes to prevent drying. Remember—smaller turkeys can dry very fast!
Top Tip: Once cooked, it is important to let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes so that the juices have time to redistribute throughout the meat. If you cut into the meat too soon, all the delicious juices will end up on the cutting board instead of in the meat, making it dry and less flavorful.
Cooking Time For A 9-10 LB Spatchcocked Turkey
- Best size to feed: 10-12 people.
- Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours.
- Temperature: 375°F (190°C).
If you’d like to be specific, a 9 lb (4 kg) turkey should cook for an hour and a half flat, while a 10 lb (4.5 kg) one should go on for ten minutes more.
However, remember that these numbers are merely a guide, and you’d be better off judging your spatchcocked turkey according to what you can see and smell. For the most accurate way to measure the doneness, check the inner temperature after 60 minutes with the meat thermometer to prevent overcooking.
Top Tip: It is important to always wash the knife and thermometer stem used in checking partially cooked poultry. This is because these items have come into contact with raw meat juices, which can contain harmful bacteria. By washing them thoroughly with soap and water after each use, you can help prevent the spread of bacteria.
Cooking Time For A 10-11 LB Spatchcocked Turkey
- Best size to feed: 13-15 people.
- Cooking time: 1 ½ – 2 hours.
- Temperature: 375°F (190°C).
Considered to be the most popular size range for turkeys, these proportions are likely to give you a moist and juicy bird yet is still easy to cook without overcooking and drying out.
So, a 10 lb (4.5 kg) should cook as instructed beforehand for an hour and forty minutes, while an 11 lb (5 kg) one should go for ten more minutes.
Top Tip: Place your turkey flat on a rack in a roasting pan. Place the veggies at the bottom of the roasting pan to cook them in delicious juices.
Cooking Time For A 12-14 LB Spatchcocked Turkey
- Best size to feed: 16-18 people.
- Cooking time: 2 – 2 ½ hours.
- Temperature: 375°F (190°C).
Considering the ten-minute rule, 12 lb (5.5 kg), 13 lb (5.8 kg), and 14 lb (6.3 kg) spatchcocked turkeys would take two hours, two hours ten minutes, and two hours twenty minutes of cooking time, respectively.
Keep in mind that turkeys from 12 lbs up tend to be considered on the larger side for domestic cooking purposes, so you may need to decrease the cooking temperature to 350°F (177°C) to prevent burning. Keep a close eye on your bird to determine if you need it.
Top Tip: Choose a ‘fresh’ turkey that has not been previously frozen. That would give you the most succulent meat. Also, defrosting a frozen turkey will take time, about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat.
Cooking Time For A 15-17 LB Spatchcocked Turkey
- Best size to feed: 20-24 people.
- Cooking time: 2 ½ – 3 hours.
- Temperature: 350°F (177°C).
Larger turkeys that exceed 15 lb (6.75 kg) will need cooking at lower temperatures since their thickness and size will need longer cooking times to prevent a burnt outside and a raw inside.
However, you also risk your spatchcocked turkey drying out, so make sure to baste the meat every 30 minutes and monitor the inner temperature with the cooking thermometer to ensure perfect cooking times without losing juiciness.
Note: Final cooking times may vary depending on: the type and size of oven you use, the temperature of the turkey before roasting, the oven’s thermostat accuracy, how often the oven door was opened throughout the roasting, and the size and material of the roasting pan used.
Best Spatchcock Turkey Recipe (Tender And Succulent)Course: DinnerCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium
You will be surprised at how easy and fast it can be to roast poultry with this technique. Spatchcocking a turkey means cutting its back lengthwise down both sides of the spine, removing the spine, and then flattening it by pressing on the chest. As a result, the turkey cooks a lot quicker and more evenly.
The compound butter in this recipe comes together in no time and guarantees the most succulent, tender meat and the crispiest skin.
Once you learn the Spatchcocking, also referred to as butterflying method, you can also spatchcock a chicken for grilling and roasting too. It’ll be a game-changer!
Turkey, 6-pound (3 kg)
Butter, room temperature, 1/3 cup (70 g)
Fresh thyme, finely chopped, about 1 spring
Fresh rosemary, finely chopped, ½ spring
Lemon zest, 1 tbsp (6 g)
Orange zest, 1 tbsp (6 g)
Olive oil (as needed)
Salt, 1 tbsp (17 g)
Black pepper, 1/2 tbsp (4 g)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- If possible, start with a room-temperature turkey. Remove any string from the bird, along with the giblets, and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
- Remove the backbone by cutting along each side of it with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors.
- Then, turn the turkey over and press down on the breastbone to flatten it so you can lay it flat on a roasting wrack.
- Place it on the roasting tray and set it aside.
- Melt the butter in a bowl and add the thyme, rosemary, lemon, and orange zests. Mix well.
- Gently push your fingers under the turkey’s skin to ease it away from the flesh. Spread your butter and herb mixture under the skin, pushing it in as far as possible, then smooth the skin back into place.
- Rub turkey all over with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place in preheated oven and roast for approximately 50-60 minutes. You will have to adjust your cooking time to the turkey’s weight (check above), calculating 10 minutes per pound.
- To make sure your turkey is cooked, pierce the thickest part with a knife: the juices that run out should be clear, not pink. Keep cooking for 7-minute intervals if the juices are pink. For accuracy, check the inner temperature with a meat thermometer. It should read 165°F (74°C).
- Once cooked, let the turkey rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 10 minutes, up to 30 minutes.
- Baste the turkey with its juices melted into the aromatic butter. Carve, and enjoy!
- Make sure your turkey is completely defrosted before cooking. Calculate 3 to 4 hours per pound to defrost when taking it out of the freezer.
- Starting with a room-temperature turkey contributes to an evenly cooked final result, so make sure you take it out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes before starting to prep the rest of your ingredients.
- Pat the turkey dry before adding any type of seasoning. A dry bird results in crispier skin!
- The turkey’s breast is the driest part of the animal, so be extra generous when rubbing the butter on it. The flesh will slowly absorb the flavor and fat, becoming extra sumptuous.
- If you want a more golden brown and crispy skin, turn the oven to 500°F (250°C) for the last 10 minutes of the cooking time.
- If you’re cooking a big bird and fear it might go dry in some parts while in the oven, fill a shallow pan with hot water and place it directly on the oven floor. The gentle steam will keep the flesh juicy.
- Basting your turkey with its own juices every 20 minutes will keep it continuously moist and prevent burning.
- Add 1 tbsp brown sugar to your compound butter. It will render golden crispy skin!
- Add 1 tsp mixed spice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp ginger, and 2 tbsp maple syrup for a spiced holiday version. It will make your kitchen smell like Christmas!
- Here is how to tell when poultry is done without a thermometer.
There are many benefits to spatchcock turkey:
- First, it allows the turkey to cook more evenly.
- Second, it reduces cooking time.
- Third, it allows the turkey to be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
- Fourth, it allows easy and even seasoning.
- Fifth, it allows for better heat distribution.
- Sixth, it makes carving the turkey much easier.
Spatchcock turkey is also an excellent option for grilling because of its flat shape and faster cooking time. When grilling a whole turkey, the breasts can often become overcooked while the legs and thighs are still undercooked.
-  U.S. Food And Drug Administration (n/d). Food Safety Tips For Healthy Holidays. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/food-safety-tips-healthy-holidays.
-  O’Brien, Devon (2022). How to Spatchcock a Turkey for the Fastest-Cooking, Juiciest Turkey Ever. Retrieved from https://www.eatingwell.com/article/290621/how-to-spatchcock-a-turkey-for-the-fastest-cooking-juiciest-turkey-ever/