Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

November 5, 2020

This Spatchcock Smoked Turkey is sure to be the crowning glory of your Thanksgiving dinner. Spatchcocked for more even cooking, and smoked for incredible flavor, you’ve never had a bird quite as good as this!

Whole Spatchcock Smoked Turkey on a cutting board next to a plaid kitchen towel. Text overlay reads: Smoked Spatchcock Turkey.

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

When preparing to cook an entire turkey, it can be daunting to plan for such a long defrost AND cook time. This recipe speeds up the process by spatchcocking the turkey first, making the bird more even and aerodynamic. Your turkey will cook quickly and with more even temperatures across the breast and thighs. It’s a win-win!

New to spatchcocking? It’s not too hard. All you need to do is remove the backbone of the turkey! For a full, detailed step-by-step post with accompanying video, check out my post for How to Spatchcock a Turkey.

Uncooked, seasoned spatchcock turkey on a wooden cutting board.

How to Smoke a Spatchcock Turkey

Once you have your turkey spatchcocked, you’re ready to butter, season, and smoke the turkey.

  1. Butter. Spreading a healthy amount of butter under the skin of the turkey prior to smoking gives this turkey so much incredible flavor. I wouldn’t recommend any substitutions here. Go for the good stuff and you won’t be disappointed.
  2. Season. This turkey is going to be so tasty from the butter and smoke, it doesn’t need anything fancy when it comes to seasoning. Simple salt and pepper are all you need! Drizzle the whole thing with extra virgin olive oil, then season liberally with salt and pepper. I highly recommend you use a good quality kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper for the best flavor.
  3. Smoke. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F. I used almond wood for this particular recipe, but pecan, apple, alder, or maple will also taste amazing! You can also pick your favorite. Smoke the bird for 4-4 1/2 hours. You’ll know the turkey is done cooking when the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F. Make sure you’re using a reliable instant read thermometer and measuring the temperature in the thickest part of the breast. The thighs will be around 175-185 degrees F.
  4. Rest. Make sure to rest the turkey for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.
  5. Serve. Get into that bird! It’ll be cooked nice and evenly and buttery delicious.

Instant read thermometer taking a temperature of 165 degrees F in a smoked spatchcock turkey.

Tips for Cooking Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

If you have a big celebration coming up (Thanksgiving, anyone?), take these tips into consideration so your turkey is perfectly cooked with lots of juicy flavor.

  • Stay small. When purchasing your turkey, try to keep your turkey under 15 pounds, if possible. Bigger turkey means more time in the danger zone of 40-140 degrees F. If you need more turkey, cook two instead of buying bigger.
  • Don’t forget the gravy! If you want to save drippings from your turkey for gravy, place the spatchcocked turkey on a flat cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. This may increase the cook time slightly, but you’ll have lots of melty buttery drippings at the end. 
  • Switch up flavors. If you want to keep the smoking temperature and time, play with flavors by using my Apple Turkey Brine or my Homemade Turkey Rub. You could also use my Chicken Seasoning for a traditional turkey flavor or my Sweet Rub to give it a classic BBQ twist.

Sliced and shredded spatchcock smoked turkey on a wooden cutting board.

More Smoked Turkey Recipes

Smoked turkey is, quite possibly, one of the best ways to enjoy turkey. If you don’t want to spatchcock your turkey first, there are a handful of other delicious smoked turkey recipes here on Hey Grill Hey to help you out:

Smoked Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Follow the recipe, and I’ll teach you the simple steps to making your own spatchcock smoked turkey at home. If you’re looking for the ultimate way to help you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero, join my members-only group The Grill Squad for full access to all my meat, rubs, sauces, and meat buying masterclasses, podcasts, and so much more.

Creating a holiday dinner for your family should be stress-free, and Hey Grill Hey is here to help! Over at Patio Provisions, we have sauces, rubs, and more to help you make the most of your holiday planning. Check it out today!

Whole spatchcock smoked Turkey on a cutting board next to a plaid kitchen towel.

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

This Spatchcock Smoked Turkey is sure to be the crowning glory of your Thanksgiving dinner. Spatchcocked for more even cooking, and smoked for incredible flavor, you've never had a bird quite as good as this!
Prep Time : 20 mins
Cook Time : 4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time : 4 hrs 50 mins
Servings : 10 people
Calories : 732kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 1 15-pound turkey (spatchcocked)
  • 8 Tablespoons salted butter (softened)
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the smoker. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F with your favorite hardwood. I recommend pecan, maple, apple, or alder for smoking turkeys. On this turkey I tried almond wood for the first time and it was great!
  • Spatchcock the turkey. Spatchcock your turkey by removing any giblets, neck, or other internal parts from your bird. Flip it breast side down and remove the backbone by cutting up both sided with kitchen shears. Snip the inside of the breast bone and turn the turkey over. Press the center of the breast down until you hear a crack and the breast lays flat on your work surface. Tuck the wing tips behind the wings.
  • Spread butter under the turkey skin. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the breast and thigh meat. Take 2 Tablespoons of the softened butter and insert it in between the skin and the first breast. Press on the exterior of the skin to spread the butter out evenly across the breast. Repeat on the remaining breast and each of the thighs until all of the butter has been spread under the skin of your turkey.
  • Season with oil, salt, and pepper. Flip your turkey breast side down on your work surface. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread the oil all over with your hands and then season with salt and black pepper. Turn the turkey back over and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season the top evenly with salt and black pepper.
  • Smoke the spatchcocked turkey. Carefully transfer your turkey directly to your smoker grates and make sure the wings are still tucked, the thighs are turned out and the turkey is laying flat. Close the lid and smoke for approximately 4 to 4.5 hours, or until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast. The thighs will likely read higher temperatures, around 175-185 and that is totally perfect.
  • Rest the turkey. Gently remove the turkey from the smoker to a large cutting board. Allow your turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
  • Carve and serve. Remove the thighs and legs first. Separate the leg and leave whole. Remove the skin from the thighs and shred the thigh meat. Chop the skin into small pieces and then mix into the thigh meat. Carefully separate and remove the wings and cut at the joints into individual pieces. Run your knife along the central breast line and when you hit the ribs, turn your knife and slice against the ribs until the breast is completely removed. Slice the breast into slices as thick or thin as you like. Arrange the carved turkey onto your serving platter and garnish with herbs, as desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 732kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 105g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 348mg | Sodium: 541mg | Potassium: 1090mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 271IU | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 4mg
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5 thoughts on “Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

  1. I inject and season the exterior. Another trick I have done to make it easier to get the butter under the skin is to cut the butter into small pats and freeze. The frozen pats are a lot easier to push under the skin.

  2. Does this recipe replace the “Spatchcocked Smoke Roasted Turkey” one? That one has you smoking it at 450, which seems like you’d get different (maybe browner) results.

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