Smoking spatchcocked turkey is incredibly easy and can be prepared in lesser time. Without putting in so much effort, you can easily smoke a spatchcocked turkey for Thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner. Spatchcocking involves splitting the turkey in half and removing the backbone so it can lay flat. This Spatchcocked Turkey recipe is a great introduction to this unique smoking method.
How to Spatchcocked a turkey
If you are not comfortable spatchcocking a turkey, you can ask to do it while purchasing it from your butcher. However, it is not that hard to do. Let me walk you through the proper method to spatchcock a holiday turkey properly at home.
- Take a cutting board. Place the turkey on it, spine facing towards you.
- Use a sharp knife to cut along the entire length of one side of the spine and similarly do it for the other side. By doing this, you can pull out the spine, flip the turkey and place the bird down and press gently from the turkey breast side to flatten it.
How to make smoked spatchcocked turkey
Ever heard of “spatchcocking” before? This is an uncommon method of preparing the turkey. We have broken down a fine smoked spatchcock turkey recipe and method so that you can prepare your perfect main course for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday dinner. Get your pellet grill, electric grill, gas smoker, and wood chips to prepare the best-smoked turkey recipe.
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- Prep Time: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 4 hours and 30 minutes
- Total Time: 15 hours 30 minutes
- Cook Temperature: 225ºF and 350ºF
- Finished Temperature: 160ºF
- Wood Flavor: Applewood, cherry wood, or maple wood
- Servings: 10-14 people
- Smoker of your preference (I used a pellet smoker)
- Roasting pan.
- Commercial-grade aluminum foil
- BBQ temperature probe.
- Sharp knife
- Kitchen shears
- 10 or 12 pounds turkey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Normal melted butter or herbed butter
- A batch of BBQ rub
- 3 tablespoons of kosher salt of dry brine
- For garnishing 1 lemon and finely chopped parsley.
- Purchase a spatchcocked or a normal turkey and brine it.
- Marinate the turkey and place it in the fridge for almost 12 hours.
- Start your smoker and maintain the initial internal temperature of the smoker at 225ºF, then raise it to 350ºF. Check if the internal temperature has reached 160ºF. Consider it done.
- Remove the smoked spatchcocked turkey and serve.
BBQ Hero Tip: Any crispy skin lovers out there? You’re not alone! To get the perfect crisp, wait until the internal temperature of your turkey reaches 160ºF, then turn up your smoker’s temperature to 450ºF. Cook your turkey until the internal temperature reaches 170ºF then enjoy that crunch!
Detailed Cooking Instructions
1) Purchasing a perfect turkey from a butcher’s shop or a supermarket.
For the beginner pitmaster selecting and getting the perfect spatchcocked turkey from the butcher’s shop or supermarket is a huge success. Always get the turkey for smoking that weighs about 10 to 12 pounds. I would recommend you to purchase a fresh turkey instead of a frozen turkey. Most of the time, some butchers pack the giblet bag with the turkey. Do not use that giblet bag for smoking.
Now how to spatchcock the turkey? Take a cutting board. Place the turkey on it, spine facing towards you. Use a sharp knife to cut along the entire length of one side of the spine and similarly do it for the other side. By doing this, you can pull out the spine, flip the turkey and place the bird down and press gently from the turkey breast side to flatten it. Make sure to take out the breast bone to enjoy boneless smoked white meat.
When you are done with the bird, now it’s time to brine it. Apply dry brine to all of the turkey, underneath the skin, over the skin, in short, covering the entire surface. You can also wet brine it. It will keep the turkey moist and juicy while smoking. You can also use a pre-brined turkey from the market.
2) Marinate the turkey and let it absorb the spices for almost 12 hours
When you are done brining the bird, it is time to prepare the marination mixture and coat the turkey. For the mixture, take a small mixing bowl and pour in the olive oil along with the dry rub. Mix them well and coat the turkey thoroughly with this paste. After coating, brush it with simple butter or herb butter. Put the turkey in a roasting pan and cover it with plastic foil. Place it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for almost 12 hours.
3) Let’s start smoking
Light up your smoker and preheat it 225ºF. Take the turkey out from the refrigerator and again brush it with some melted butter. Now place the roasting pan directly on the grill grate. Let the turkey cook at 225ºF for 2 hours. A couple of hours later, raise and adjust the grill’s temperature at 350ºF until the internal temperature of the thickest part of thigh or breast meat reaches up to 160ºF. When you have reached the desired internal temp, remove it from the smoker. One more thing, if you want to enjoy a crispier skin at the same time, raise the temperature to 450ºF and let it smoke for a couple of minutes, and then remove it.
Avoid overcooking your turkey as it will dry up all juices, leave dark meat behind, and will not give a great smokey flavor.
4) Serving the whole family with the best main course for the holiday table
Take out the turkey from the smoker. Garnish it with some finely chopped parsley and squash lemon juice on it. You can also apply more butter if you like.
Though the prep time and cooking time in smoking turkey through the spatchcock method is more than smoking a whole turkey, it is the best turkey recipe with a strong smoke flavor for boneless meat lovers.
Benefits of a spatchcocked turkey
- When you spatchcock the turkey, almost all the areas of meat are exposed, which makes it easy to brine the turkey.
- As the meat is flattened, all the meat gets equal heat.
- Spatchcocking the turkey allows the meat to cook more quickly as compared to smoking a whole turkey.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you smoke a Spatchcocked turkey per pound?
Smoking a turkey over low heat takes around 11-13 minutes per pound (225°-275°F). As soon as the breasts reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit, remove them and let them rest for about 30 minutes. It is best cooked at a lower temperature keeping all the juices and natural flavor intact, whereas if you want to try a crispier skin, you will have to raise the temperature.
Is it better to smoke a turkey whole or Spatchcock?
It is better to smoke a spatchcocked turkey because all portions of the bird are cooked simultaneously, a smoked Spatchcock Turkey cooks more evenly. This approach allows you to cook the turkey a bit faster than you would if you were to smoke a complete bird.
Why should I Spatchcock a turkey?
In addition to ensuring crisp skin (because almost all of it is exposed), spatchcocking turkey makes it much easier to cook the white and dark flesh equally, resulting in a juicy breast. As a bonus, it reduces the entire cooking time.
Does spatchcock turkey cook faster?
The cooking time for a spatchcocked turkey is significantly less than that of a roasted entire turkey. Heat can be more evenly distributed throughout the turkey because it has been essentially flattened. Oven cooking takes only 90 minutes for this 16-pound turkey.
Great Smoked Turkey Options
If you’re looking to try other smoked turkey recipes, make sure to give our Smoked Turkey and Smoked Turkey Breast recipes a try as well. They are easy to make and also go well with any smoked sideline.