Spatchcocked Turkey with Herbed Butter

4.6 from 35 reviews

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 faster and 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.


Units Scale

Turkey Brine

  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar

Herbed Butter

  • 1 stick (1/4 lb) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TBS Jeff’s Texas style rub


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 the brine in a large brining container or food grade bucket or pail (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. Double or triple the brine recipe as required.
  3. Place the turkey in a plastic, glass or stainless steel container and pour the brine over the bird to cover.
  4. Place a lid or cover on the container with the bird and the brine and place it in the refrigerator overnight or 8-12 hours.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

  1. When the turkey is finished brining, discard the brine and rinse the turkey really well under cold water.
  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.
  4. While the drying process is occurring, make up the herb butter (recipe below)

Step 4: Make the Herbed Butter

  1. Combine ingredients well in a medium sized bowl.
  2. If made ahead, allow it to soften to help with the application.

Step 5: Apply Herbed Butter

  1. 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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Apply the remaining herbed butter on the outside of the skin.

Step 6: Season with Texas Rub

  1. Season the entire turkey skin side and meat side with my Texas rub for perfect seasoning throughout.

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. Place the spatchcocked turkey skin side up and let it smoke cook for about 4 hours at 240°F.
  5. 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.

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.

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