If you are looking for an epic Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe, well look no further because this one will make you a Turkey cooking rockstar! Get ready for the barrage of compliments from friends and family after you serve them this!

In this post, I’m going to give you all the details on how to spatchcock a turkey and then cook it in your smoker. But first, let’s talk about the best brine for turkey.

Ever wonder why the chicken is so darn good at Chick-Fil-A? They brine their chicken in pickle juice! I started brining my poultry in pickle juice this year and it has been a GAME CHANGER. Now there are a lot of ways to brine a turkey- you can dry brine (salt/spices) or wet brine (I have a great all purpose turkey brine recipe, here is my Orange Rosemary Turkey Brine Recipe) but I must tell you that Pickle Juice adds so much flavor, it is now my preferred method for Turkey, poultry and even pork.

Spatchcocked turkey recipe

Pickle Juice is the secret ingredient in this Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe.

And even if you are not a fan of pickles, the turkey does not come out over pickle-tasting. It retains the undertones of the brine but it is not overwhelming. So don’t worry if you are not pickle crazed like myself, this will still be a crowd pleaser for pickle lovers and non-pickle lovers alike.

The key is to squirrel away pickle juice leading up to your cook. If you are a pickle juice lover, this is easy to do – every time you finish a jar of pickles, you save the juice and store it in the back of your refrigerator. You will need over a gallon of pickle juice so if you don’t stockpile beforehand, you will need to buy a gallon jar of pickles. You can then put the pickles in your food processor, and you will have enough pickle relish for the next year, or you can make my (fake) fried pickle recipe.

A note about Pickle Juice- make sure to buy pickles without Polysorbate 80! Polysorbate is a preservative often found in pickle juice known to cause colon cancer in Mice but they still allow it in our food and many other things so make sure to buy pickle juice without this preservative. Some great store bought pickles without Polysorbate 80 include the Wholefoods Brand of pickles, The Cleveland Kitchen Pickles, and Grillo’s pickles. It is important to read labels! When I originally developed this recipe, I didn’t know about this and have now stopped buying pickles with this in it.

The alternative is to make your own pickle juice brine. This is an additional step but if you can’t find a gallon jar of pickles then this is a good alternative. Pickle juice brine is a basic 3-2-1 ratio of 3 parts vinegar, 2 parts water and 1part sugar. You can then customize with the spices you like.

And the other part of the equation here is Spatchcocking the Turkey. By removing the backbone of the Turkey, or butterflying the bird, it will cook more quickly and evenly than if you roasted it whole. Here is a deep dive on Spatchcocking:

WHAT IS SPATCHCOCKING?

What is Spatchcocking? Spatchcocking is removing the backbone of a bird and butterflying it so it cooks more evenly. So instead of getting a big pan and roasting your bird and having it take up all the space in your oven, you can in spatchcock it and cook it on your grill, saving your oven space for stuff like Pumpkin pie!

WHY SPATCHCOCK YOUR TURKEY VS COOKING WHOLE?

The biggest reason to spatchcock your turkey is the delicious end result. Grilling a spatchcocked turkey allows the bird to cook more evenly and more quickly, resulting in a more moist and evenly cooked bird with delicious smokey grill flavor. More parts of the bird touch the grill to brown and get crispy. In addition, the breast touches the grill directly and the turkey cooks overall more evenly than when roasting because it is butterflied and spread out on the grill. 

HOW TO SPATCHCOCK A TURKEY?

The best option would be to call your butcher or the guy who works in the meat department at your grocery store and ask them to do this for you. Keep in mind that unless it is around major holiday time there won’t be any “fresh” turkeys (ie, not frozen) so you call them up, ask them to defrost it and then “Spatchcock” or remove the backbone for you.

If you don’t have your butcher do it for you (and I highly recommend you do this!), then you will need sharp poultry shears. Do yourself a favor and make sure to use a SHARP pair of poultry shears. If you have a pair that’s been sitting in your drawer for 20 years and hasn’t ever been sharpened, then it is worth the investment to get a good pair to make this easier for you. You can get a good pair of Poultry shears for $20 on Amazon and it’s worth the investment. 

If you don’t have poultry shears, use a sharp meat cleaver. To be extra careful, I recommend getting cutting gloves to ensure you don’t cut yourself. These are great to have in your kitchen arsenal! I bought these after cutting myself a few times and they have been a game changer! Please see my full video on how to spatchcock a turkey, including cracking the bones to lay flat on the grill.

Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe

BBQ Rub compound butter is great on all kinds of poultry and pork! Moisturize your meat!

 

THE BBQ BUTTER

The next part of this simple yet tasty recipe is making a BBQ rub compound butter. By combining the butter and rub and putting it under the skin of the bird you are adding another element of moisture and flavor. So, with the pickle juice brine AND the butter, you have a truly moist, juicy, flavorful bird. And if you’re going to put time and effort into cooking a turkey, that’s the goal, right!??

spatchcocked turkey recipe

Brine, lots of butter, smoke and lots of love make for a truly epic Spatchcocked Turkey.

INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THIS SPATCHCOCKED TURKEY RECIPE

FULL SHOPPING LIST:

(If you aren’t using store bought pickle juice, here are the ingredients for the brine:

PICKLE JUICE BRINE INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups purified/filtered water
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp course sea salt
  • 1 head garlic, crushed cloves
  • 4 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 4 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp dill seeds

Where to buy your Turkey:

I look for pasture raised, antibiotic free Turkeys from small farmers versus commercially raised turkeys – you can find pasture raised antibiotic free turkeys at Crowd Cow or Farm Foods.

Floribbean Rub, Sunshine State of Mind Rub, Kaffir Lime Rub, Citrus cocktail rimmer

Sunshine State of Mind Craft BBQ Rub is a Floribbean inspired rub with notes of kaffir lime, orange, grapefruit, granulated honey, coriander, and smoked paprika. It is an all purpose rub that really shines on all proteins, including turkey, and also doubles as a rimmer for a margarita!

SMOKING YOUR SPATCHCOCKED TURKEY

If you don’t have a smoker and want to use your grill to use it as a smoker, I recommend checking out my video on how to create direct and indirect zones on your grill. Any grill can be turned into a smoker by cooking on indirect heat and adding wood chips. Pellet smokers simplify the process of smoking with push button simplicity. I used my Green Mountain Grill Daniel Boone Series pellet smoker, (check out my review here) If you are thinking of adding a pellet smoker to your grilling line up, I have been working with them for well over 6 years and can’t recommend them enough. They go the distance and are a great value with all the features you get in the grill compared to other pellet smokers on the market.

ALTERNATIVES TO COOKING A WHOLE TURKEY FOR SMALLER CROWDS

If you don’t have a lot of people, smoking a turkey breast is the way to go! You get the same flavor but perfect for a smaller crowd. You can even use cedar planks to achieve smoked turkey if you don’t have a smoker. Check out my Smoked Turkey Breast with Alabama White Sauce recipe or my Blue Cheese Craisin and Pecan Stuffed Turkey Breast cooked on a cedar plank – this recipe is so good it is perfect for date night or any special occasion and can be put together pretty quickly too. 

If you do try any of these recipes, don’t forget to tag me @grillgirlrobyn – I love seeing your creations! Happy Smoking, Grilling and Cooking! 

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Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe

Pickle Juice Brined and Smoked Spatchcocked Turkey


  • Author: Robyn
  • Total Time: 6 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 Turkey, 8 servings 1x

Description

Pickle Juice is liquid gold for brining poultry! If you can’t find a gallon jar of this brining nectar of the Gods, make your own with the recipe below. Then, moisturize the bird with BBQ rub butter and smoke the turkey for the most moist, juicy and flavorful Turkey you have ever had!


Ingredients

Scale

FULL SHOPPING LIST:

  • 12 lb turkey, spatchcocked
  • http://shrsl.com/3ssxy2 sticks butter
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose BBQ rub
  • 1 Gallon Jar Pickles OR make your own brine – ingredients below:

(If you aren’t using store bought pickle juice)

  • 6 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups purified/filtered water
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp course sea salt
  • 1 head garlic, crushed cloves
  • 4 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 4 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp dill seeds

Instructions

Directions:

Spatchcock your turkey (see directions above). Either get your brine from a big gallon jar of pickles OR make the recipe above by combining all the ingredients in a pot, bringing to a simmer to dissolve the sugar and salt and let cool before using. Use a 12-gallon stockpot to put your turkey in.

Brine the turkey overnight in a stockpot in the refrigerator.

Remove the turkey from the brine bath and let sit out for 10 minutes to warm up a bit (the butter will adhere better this way). Now, combine the butter with 3 tbsp of BBQ rub to make the BBQ compound butter, reserving the last tbsp for sprinkling on the turkey at the end.

Using your finger, try to separate the skin (Gently!!) from the meat enough to put the butter underneath the skin and get the butter into all the nooks and crannies. Then repeat on the outside. Lastly, sprinkle the  last tbsp of rub on the outside of the turkey before putting in the smoker

 

Prepare your smoker for 250 degrees. If you are using a traditional grill, watch my video on how to create direct and indirect zones to set up your grill for smoking.

 

Smoke the turkey, breast side up, at 250 until the internal temperature reads 165 in the breast. This will take about 2 hours per 1lb, or 6 hours for a 12 pound turkey. Let the turkey rest for 10 minutes before serving to let the juices redistribute. If you want a dipping sauce, I recommend pairing with Alabama white sauce. This is a great sauce for turkey and any poultry and goes great with just about anything. While the turkey is so flavorful and moist on it’s own, some people want a sauce or gravy and Alabama white BBQ sauce is my go-to sauce for any poultry.

 

Notes

Don’t forget to tag me if you make this recipe! Leave me a comment and let me know how it turned out!

 

This recipe was developed in partnership with my friends over at Green Mountain Grills. Sponsored posts help keep this site going!

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes + overnight brine
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Category: Turkey, Thanksgiving, Holiday Meal, Smoked Turkey Recipe, Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe, Griled Turkey Recipe
  • Method: Smoked, Grilled, Pickle Juice Marinade
  • Cuisine: American, New Southern

Keywords: Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe, how to spatchcock a turkey

Want more Turkey Inspiration? Check out these other Turkey Recipes!!!

Grilled Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Turkey (How to Grill a Spatchcocked Turkey)

Orange Rosemary Turkey Brine Recipe