In this smoked turkey recipe, I will show you how to speed up the process of smoking a turkey by butterflying it, commonly called “spatchcocking the turkey”.

This causes the turkey to cook a lot more evenly, makes it easier to carve and often helps the skin to get more crispy especially if you are able to cook it a little hotter than normal smoking temperatures.

The herbed butter along with my Texas rub recipe (purchase recipes here) seasons this baby to perfection and your Thanksgiving will be a huge success!

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Helpful Information
  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Brine time: 8-12 hours
  • Cook time: 4 hours
  • Smoker temperature: 240°F
  • Meat finish temperature: 160°F
  • Recommended wood: Pecan and/or Hickory
What You'll Need

Get the Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce


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My Texas rub recipe along with the butter and herbs creates a combination that can only be described as legendary.

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Note: You can brine first and then spatchcock the bird or vice versa. I like to spatchcock it first but this is completely personal preference.

Step 1: Spatchcock (Butterfly)

Remove the turkey from it's packaging.

IMG_8599-250x167

Remove giblets, neck, pop-up timer and any plastic or hardware that is holding the legs together.

Place the turkey on your cutting board with the backbone facing up and neck end toward you.

IMG_8600-250x167

Using a pair of heavy duty kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to completely remove it from the turkey.

IMG_8602-250x167IMG_8603-250x167

Turn the turkey breast side up and press down with both hands to flatten it.

IMG_8607-250x167

Step 2: Brine Overnight (optional)

Make a simple turkey brine using 1 gallon of cold water, 1 cup of coarse kosher salt and ¾ cup of dark brown sugar. (the sugar is optional but I think it adds a lot to the brine).

Pour the salt into the water and stir until it becomes clear again. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves.

Place the turkey in a plastic, glass or stainless steel container and pour the brine over the bird to cover.

Please note: Depending on what container you use, you may require more than 1 gallon of brine. Just double or triple the brine recipe as needed.

Place a lid or cover on the container with the bird and the brine and place it in the refrigerator overnight. If the container is too large for the fridge, you will need to ice it down and ensure that it stays at or below 39°F for food safety purposes. 8-12 hours is recommended brining time for best results.

Please see my Turkey FAQ if you have questions about why you should brine or how it benefits the turkey.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

When the turkey is finished brining, discard the brine and rinse the turkey really well under cold water. Sometimes this is best done outside if possible.

Dry the inside and outside of the turkey with clean paper towels.

Place the turkey in the fridge uncovered for about 2 hours to allow the skin to dry further. This helps the skin to end up with a good “bite through”.

While the drying process is occurring, make up the herb butter (recipe below)

Step 4: Make the Herbed Butter

Herb Butter

  • 1 stick of butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sage, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS Jeff's Texas Rub (purchase recipes here)

You can put all of this into a food processor and get a nice mixture if you like. I opted to just chop everything by hand and then fold the ingredients into the butter. Cutting the butter into smaller pieces first helps with this.

IMG_8604-250x167 IMG_8606-250x167

If you make this ahead of time, you can form it back into a log and wrap in plastic wrap to keep it fresh.

When ready to use, microwave it slightly to help with the application.

Step 5: Apply Herbed Butter

I split the butter into (2) parts and put half of it under the skin and half of it on the outside of the skin.

In order to get it under the skin, you will have to loosen the skin first.

Work your hands between the skin and the meat tearing the membrane loose as you go. Do this carefully and patiently and you will be able to completely loosen the skin from the breast meat and even the thighs and legs. Leave the skin attached around the edges (except for where your hand entered) to help hold in the butter and herbs.

Once the skin is loose enough, stuff some of the herbed butter in the breast area, the thighs, and the legs. Pat it down from the outside to spread it out a little more.

Apply the remaining herbed butter on the outside of the skin. If it does not want to stick, microwave it a little to make it more fluid and apply with a silicone brush. (it tends to stick to your hands better than the turkey skin).

IMG_8608-250x167

Step 6: Season with Texas Rub

Completely coated with herbed butter, give it a good sprinkle all over with my Texas rub recipe (purchase recipes here) for perfect seasoning throughout.

Don't forget both sides of the wings, thighs and legs.

Step 7: Smoke Time

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 240°F.

If your smoker has a water pan, it's a great idea to use as this helps to reduce the drying effect of the heat.

Make sure you have enough smoking wood to last for at least 2 hours.

When the smoker is preheated and ready to go, it's time to cook some turkey!

Place the turkey on a cookie sheet to carry it out to the smoker or you can use a Bradley rack and just leave it on there while it cooks.

Place the spatchcocked turkey skin side up and let it smoke cook for about 4 hours  at 240°F.

Monitor the temperature of the breast at it's thickest part and when it reaches about 158-160 it's time to move it from the heat.

The carryover cooking will take it on up to about 163-165 and it will be incredibly juicy, tender and flavorful.

Step 8: Rest and Serve

Quickly tent some foil over the bird and leave it for about 10-15 minutes to rest before carving.

IMG_8627-250x167

To carve, remove the leg quarters then separate the thigh from the leg. Remove the wings then remove the breast meat in one big section by cutting along the carcass as you pull back on the breast meat. Slice the breast meat into pieces and you are ready to eat.

Youtube is your friend if you need help with the carving– with the videos available online, you can learn to do it quite proficiently and everyone will be amazed at your skills!

Important: Be sure to see my Thanksgiving Cooking FAQ if you have further questions about preparing and/or cooking the turkey.

Be sure to check out a few of my other featured turkey recipes as well, all of which can be spatchcocked just like this one. Here are some helpful links to turkey recipes from past years:

Get the Digital Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce


jeffs-rub-framed-250x169 jeffs-sauce-framed-250x169
***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!

If I could give these recipes away, I would do that. I really want you to have them! But, then, this is how I support the newsletter, the website and all of the other stuff that we do here to promote the art of smoking meat.

Read these recent testimonies:

Love the sauce and rub
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well! ~Peter S.
I tried the rub on a beef
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
..I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. ~Darwyn B.
Love the original rib rub
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
 Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! ~Michelle M.


You see the raving testimonies and you wonder, "Can the recipes really be that good?"

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Order the Recipes for Jeff's Rub and Sauce

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smoking-meat-book-cover-275x289The book is full of recipes and contains tons of helpful information as well. Some have even said that "no smoker should be without this book"!

With more than 750 reviews on Amazon.com and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it comes highly recommended.

It is a Bestseller in Barbecueing & Grilling books on Amazon.

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Printable Recipe

5.0 from 3 reviews
Spatchcocked Turkey with Herbed Butter
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Hot Smoking
Serves: 6+
Instructions
Step 1: Spatchcock (Butterfly)
  1. Remove the turkey from it's packaging.
  2. Remove giblets, neck, pop-up timer and any plastic or hardware that is holding the legs together.
  3. Place the turkey on your cutting board with the backbone facing up and neck end toward you.
  4. Using a pair of heavy duty kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to completely remove it from the turkey.
  5. Turn the turkey breast side up and press down with both hands to flatten it.
Step 2: Brine Overnight (optional)
  1. Make a simple turkey brine using 1 gallon of cold water, 1 cup of coarse kosher salt and ¾ cup of dark brown sugar. (the sugar is optional but I think it adds a lot to the brine).
  2. Pour the salt into the water and stir until it becomes clear again. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves.
  3. Place the turkey in a plastic, glass or stainless steel container and pour the brine over the bird to cover.
  4. Please note: Depending on what container you use, you may require more than 1 gallon of brine. Just double or triple the brine recipe as needed.
  5. Place a lid or cover on the container with the bird and the brine and place it in the refrigerator overnight. If the container is too large for the fridge, you will need to ice it down and ensure that it stays at or below 39 °F for food safety purposes. 8-12 hours is recommended brining time for best results.
  6. Please see my Turkey FAQ if you have questions about why you should brine or how it benefits the turkey.
Step 3: Rinse and Dry
  1. When the turkey is finished brining, discard the brine and rinse the turkey really well under cold water. Sometimes this is best done outside if possible.
  2. Dry the inside and outside of the turkey with clean paper towels.
  3. Place the turkey in the fridge uncovered for about 2 hours to allow the skin to dry further. This helps the skin to end up with a good "bite through".
  4. While the drying process is occurring, make up the herb butter (recipe below)
Step 4: Make the Herbed Butter
  1. stick of softened butter, ¼ cup chopped parsley, ¼ cup chopped thyme, ¼ cup chopped chives, ¼ cup onion, 5 garlic cloves, 2 TBS Jeff's Texas Rub
  2. You can put all of this into a food processor and get a nice mixture if you like. I opted to just chop everything by hand and then fold the ingredients into the butter. Cutting the butter into smaller pieces first helps with this.
  3. If you make this ahead of time, you can form it back into a log and wrap in plastic wrap to keep it fresh.
  4. When ready to use, microwave it slightly to help with the application.
Step 5: Apply Herbed Butter
  1. I split the butter into (2) parts and put half of it under the skin and half of it on the outside of the skin.
  2. In order to get it under the skin, you will have to loosen the skin first.
  3. Work your hands between the skin and the meat tearing the membrane loose as you go. Do this carefully and patiently and you will be able to completely loosen the skin from the breast meat and even the thighs and legs. Leave the skin attached around the edges (except for where your hand entered) to help hold in the butter and herbs.
  4. Once the skin is loose enough, stuff some of the herbed butter in the breast area, the thighs, and the legs. Pat it down from the outside to spread it out a little more.
  5. Apply the remaining herbed butter on the outside of the skin. If it does not want to stick, microwave it a little to make it more fluid and apply with a silicone brush. (it tends to stick to your hands better than the turkey skin).
Step 6: Season with Texas Rub
  1. Completely coated with herbed butter, give it a good sprinkle all over with my Texas rub for perfect seasoning throughout.
  2. Don't forget both sides of the wings, thighs and legs.
Step 7: Smoke Time
  1. Set up your smoker for cooking at about 240°F.
  2. If your smoker has a water pan, it's a great idea to use as this helps to reduce the drying effect of the heat.
  3. Make sure you have enough smoking wood to last for at least 2 hours.
  4. When the smoker is preheated and ready to go, it's time to cook some turkey!
  5. Place the turkey on a cookie sheet to carry it out to the smoker or you can use a Bradley rack and just leave it on there while it cooks.
  6. Place the spatchcocked turkey skin side up and let it smoke cook for about 4 hours at 240°F.
  7. Monitor the temperature of the breast at it's thickest part and when it reaches about 158-160 it's time to move it from the heat.
  8. The carryover cooking will take it on up to about 163-165 and it will be incredibly juicy, tender and flavorful.
Step 8: Rest and Serve
  1. Quickly tent some foil over the bird and leave it for about 10-15 minutes to rest before carving.
  2. To carve, remove the leg quarters then separate the thigh from the leg. Remove the wings then remove the breast meat in one big section by cutting along the carcass as you pull back on the breast meat. Slice the breast meat into pieces and you are ready to eat.
  3. Youtube is your friend if you need help with the carving-- with the videos available online, you can learn to do it quite proficiently and everyone will be amazed at your skills!
 

About the Author

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!

6 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Bonnie brasel March 22, 2016 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    How much wood chips is needed to last 4 hrs for the turkey? Will 13 lb require 4.5 hrs? Thank you

  2. Paul Beardsley December 16, 2015 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Jeff could smoke a larger turkey by cooking it the Spatchcock way could go as large as 20lb

  3. Richard December 13, 2015 at 6:49 am - Reply

    Followed directions exactly, 14 pound bird was done in 4.5 hours and was outstanding.

  4. Matthew December 11, 2015 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Smoked the turkey following your instructions. I’ve smoked many in the past 30 years, but the spatchcock method was outstanding! I’ll be doing it with chicken as well. the herbed butter was on point as well. thanks for sharing.

  5. Ed November 26, 2015 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    This was a new one for me and it was a hit! I checked my internal temp at 3 hours and it was already 195! Thankfully the brine and herbed butter saved the bird, (and my butt) Keep the recipes coming.

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