Mastering the Art of Smoked Spatchcock Turkey: A Comprehensive Guide to Crispy Skin and Succulent Flavor

This Spatchcock Smoked Turkey is sure to be the crowning glory of your Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve never had a bird quite like this one—spattered to ensure more even cooking and smoked for maximum flavor!

It can be intimidating to factor in such a lengthy cook AND defrost period when getting ready to cook an entire turkey. 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 have to do is debone the turkey! See my post on How to Spatchcock a Turkey for a comprehensive, step-by-step instruction guide complete with a video.

Are you yearning for a Thanksgiving turkey that boasts crispy skin, juicy meat, and an explosion of flavor? Look no further than the spatchcock method! This ingenious technique involves removing the backbone, allowing the turkey to lay flat and cook more evenly, resulting in a masterpiece that will have your guests raving.

Unveiling the Secrets of Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

This guide delves into the intricacies of spatchcock smoked turkey drawing insights from two invaluable sources:

Preparing Your Culinary Canvas: The Spatchcock Technique

  1. Embrace the Backbone Removal: Begin by removing the turkey’s tail and flipping it breast-side down. Using kitchen shears, carefully cut along both sides of the backbone, separating it from the bird. Discard the backbone and use a sharp knife to sever the wishbone, allowing the turkey to lie flat.

  2. Trim Away Excess: Remove any fat or sinew from the bone side of the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.

  3. Infuse Flavor: Apply your favorite dry rub or a combination of Killer Hogs AP Rub and Swine Life Mississippi Grind. Don’t forget the skin side!

  4. Embrace the Injection: For an extra burst of flavor consider injecting the turkey with a mixture of Butcher’s Bird Booster and water.

Transforming Your Smoker into a Culinary Wonderland

  1. Prepare Your Smoker: Set your smoker to 275-300°F and choose your preferred wood or smoking pellets for an added layer of flavor.

  2. Position the Turkey: Place the turkey skin-side up on the cooking rack, ensuring the legs and wings are arranged to keep the bird flat.

  3. Baste with Care: After an hour of smoking, begin basting the skin with a mixture of melted butter, poultry herbs, and garlic. This will help achieve that coveted crispy texture.

  4. Monitor Temperature: Use a probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast. Once it reaches 165°F, your turkey is ready to be removed from the smoker.

  5. Rest and Savor: Allow the turkey to rest loosely covered for 5-10 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring a succulent and flavorful experience.

Pro Tips for Crispy Skin Perfection

  • Embrace Dryness: Ensure the turkey skin is completely dry before applying the rub and basting.
  • High Heat is Your Ally: Cook the turkey at a higher temperature (around 300°F) to promote crispy skin.
  • Basting Balance: Avoid over-basting, as this can make the skin soggy.
  • Foil as a Shield: If the skin starts to brown too quickly, use aluminum foil to protect it without wrapping it tightly.

Additional Insights from the Culinary Masters

  • Time vs. Temperature: While many recipes provide estimated cook times, it’s crucial to rely on the internal temperature of the turkey for accuracy.
  • Brining and Injecting: Both techniques can enhance the flavor and moisture of your turkey.
  • Pellet Grill Considerations: Pellet grills provide ample smoke for the turkey, even at higher temperatures.
  • Bacon Weave Magic: For a visually stunning and flavorful presentation, consider a bacon weave on a boneless turkey breast.

Embrace the Spatchcock Revolution and Elevate Your Thanksgiving Feast

By mastering the spatchcock technique and incorporating these valuable tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a smoked spatchcock turkey that will be the star of your Thanksgiving table. Remember, the key is to embrace experimentation and find the methods that work best for you and your smoker.

Now, go forth and conquer the culinary world with your crispy-skinned, juicy, and flavorful smoked spatchcock turkey!

Tips for Cooking Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

Consider these suggestions if you have a large gathering approaching (Thanksgiving, anyone?), to ensure that your turkey is cooked to perfection and has a rich, juicy flavor.

  • Stay small. If at all possible, try to purchase a turkey that weighs less than 15 pounds. Larger turkeys spend more time in the 40–140 degree Fahrenheit danger zone. Cook two turkeys if you need more, rather than purchasing larger ones.
  • Remember to save your turkey drippings for gravy by placing the spatchcocked bird on a flat cooling rack set atop a rimmed baking sheet. This might shorten the cooking time, but the result will be a ton of melted, buttery drippings.
  • Switch up flavors. Use my Homemade Turkey Rub or Apple Turkey Brine to experiment with flavors and maintain the smoking temperature and duration. Alternatively, you could use my Sweet Rub to give it a traditional BBQ twist, or my Chicken Seasoning for a traditional turkey flavor.

How to Smoke a Spatchcock Turkey

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

  • Butter. This turkey has such amazing flavor because it has a generous amount of butter spread under its skin before it is smoked. I wouldn’t recommend any substitutions here. Go for the good stuff and you won’t be disappointed.
  • Season. Because of the butter and smoke, this turkey will be so flavorful that it won’t require any elaborate seasoning. Drizzle everything with extra virgin olive oil, then generously season with salt and pepper. That’s all you need! For the best flavor, I strongly advise using freshly cracked black pepper and high-quality kosher salt.
  • Smoke. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F. For this recipe, I used almond wood, but it also tastes great with pecan, apple, alder, or maple! You can also use your favorite wood! Smoke the bird for 4-4 1/2 hours. When the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it is done cooking. Make sure the thermometer you’re using is dependable and that you’re taking the temperature in the thickest area of your breast. The thighs will be around 175-185 degrees F.
  • Rest. Before carving and serving, make sure the turkey has rested for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Serve. Take a bite out of that bird! It will be cooked to perfection, with a buttery taste.

Crispy Skin Smoked Turkey


How do you crisp the skin on a smoked turkey?

Set your smoker temperature around 250 degrees Fahrenheit to slowly render the skin while maintaining the turkey’s internal temperature for safe consumption. Then after two hours of the low temperature raise the cooking temperature to 375 degrees F to finish the turkey and crisp up the partially rendered skin.

How long to smoke a spatchcock turkey at 225?

Smoke the turkey over low heat 225° – 275° F for approximately 11-13 minutes a pound. 9. Once the breast reaches 165°F, remove, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest approximately 30 minutes.

How do you make turkey skin crispy on a Traeger?

The high to low method of cooking a turkey in your Traeger locks flavor in and helps the skin get crispy. You start the bird on High for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for the remainder of the cooking process.

Is it better to smoke a turkey at 225 or 250?

When smoking at 225°F, it can take about 30 to 45 minutes to cook one pound of turkey. That means a 12-pound turkey should take at least six hours to cook in a smoker. To smoke your turkey faster, increase the smoker’s temperature to 250°F to 275°F.

Can you smoke a Spatchcock Turkey?

We recommend the bird brine at least overnight and find that this helps to crisp up the turkey skin too. If you’re smoking on a pellet grill, try adding a smoker box with wood chips to your grill or a pellet smoker tube for deeper smoke flavor or this delicious smoked spatchcock turkey.

How do you cook a Spatchcock turkey breast?

Use your fingers to loosen and gently separate the skin of the turkey breast from the meat. Smear compound butter between skin and turkey breast. Season turkey. Drizzle spatchcocked turkey with olive oil and massage it into the skin. Add dry rub and massage it into the skin. (optional) Chill turkey before smoking it.

Is Spatchcock a good way to cook a Turkey?

What’s great about this method is it helps to cook even a large bird evenly due to the whole bird laying at an even level. The spatchcock method keeps the whole bird juicy and tender, and since all of the skin is exposed, not sitting in turkey drippings, it also makes for great crispy skin on the entire turkey!

How do you cook a turkey breast in a smoker?

All the turkey meat should now be facing upwards. Heat a smoker to 450f. Use your thumb to create a pocket between the skin and meat over the breast and thighs, then stuff the pockets with butter. Season the turkey liberally with the Hardcore Carnivore seasoning. Place meat side up into the smoker, and cook for 15 minutes.

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