I’ve done beer can turkey on the Big Green Egg for many years, but Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill is my favorite way to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving, or whenever I want to feed a crowd economically and deliciously! The beauty of Spatchcocking is that it yields a moist, juicy, flavorful bird with lots of crispy skin while also cooking in less time than traditionally roasting a Turkey. This is all a win-win in my book and why it makes it a no-brainer that my default method for cooking a turkey is to Spatchcock turkey on the grill.

Why You’ll Love Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill

If you’re looking to elevate your grilling game and create a mouthwatering centerpiece for your next gathering, spatchcock turkey on the grill is the way to go. This culinary technique involves removing the turkey’s backbone and flattening it, which not only ensures even cooking but also reduces the overall cooking time. The result? A succulent and juicy bird with perfectly crispy skin. The direct heat from the grill infuses the meat with a smoky flavor, while the flattened position allows for maximum surface contact, resulting in deliciously caramelized skin. The spatchcock method also allows for easy seasoning and basting, ensuring that every bite is bursting with flavor. So fire up your grill, embrace the art of spatchcocking, and get ready to savor the most tender and flavorful turkey you’ve ever experienced.

What is “spatchcocking”?

What does “Spatchcocking” mean exactly? Spatchcocking refers to butterflying a bird, (or any kind of poultry) removing the backbone and then cooking it butterflied, spread out on the cooking surface. What is great about spatchcocking is by butterflying the bird, it cooks much faster than roasting as the bird is spread out on the heat surface.

I’ve spatchcocked chicken and Cornish game hens before and it is one of my favorite grilling techniques and it is now is my go-to way to cook turkey.

best spatchcocked turkey recipe

Ingredients for Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 large bunch rosemary, tarragon and thyme- leaves removed off the stems
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • sea salt, large pinch, large pinch
  • fresh ground pepper, large pinch
  • 1 turkey, spatchcocked with back bone removed (save yourself the trouble and have your butcher do this!)

How to Make Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill

  • If brining, brine overnight and then pat dry.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon juice with a stick blender.
  • Next, lay the turkey out on a big cutting board or plate and spread it out. Slide your fingers under the skin and separate it from the meat to placement of butter. Slather butter underneath the breast, legs, etc- anywhere you can get butter underneath the skin- this is what is going to keep it moist (this is the un-fun part but the results are worth it!).
  • Heat your grill to 350 degrees. Lightly oil the grill grates and when nice and heated up, grill the turkey on each side for 8-10 minutes or until nice char marks have begun to form.
  • Remove the turkey now and place on a grill safe pan so you can collect juices from the turkey to make gravy with.  **In order to get char marks and crispy edges, during the last 20 minutes, take out of the pan and put directly on the grill
  • Now, place the turkey back onto the cooker and let cook until an internal read thermometer such as the ThermaPen or ChefAlarm, reads 170 degrees. Depending on the size of the turkey, this could take between 2 and 3+ hours. I had a smaller turkey that was approximately 10 lbs and it took 2.5 hours.

 

To brine or not to brine: I didn’t brine my turkey first, and it turned out great when I did my Paleo Thanksgiving test run a few weeks ago, but I may brine for Thanksgiving. My vote is still undecided about brining and whether or not it is worth it. When I took a class from French Trained Chef Jeanne Pierre last year he said he had tried both ways and you couldn’t tell the difference between a brined or un-brined turkey. But, if you decide to brine I thought Chris’ Orange Bourbon brine looked wonderful and fragrant and this is the recipe I will use if I do decide to brine for Thanksgiving.

 

 Substitutions for Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill

If you’re looking for meat substitutions for spatchcocked turkey on the grill, there are several options that can provide a similar grilling experience and delicious results. One popular alternative is spatchcocked chicken, which follows the same technique of removing the backbone and flattening the bird for even cooking and crispy skin. Another option is spatchcocked Cornish game hen, which is smaller in size and perfect for individual servings. For those who prefer red meat, spatchcocked whole or butterflied lamb can be a flavorful choice on the grill. Additionally, spatchcocked duck or quail can offer a unique and succulent grilling experience. Remember to adjust cooking times and temperatures based on the specific meat you choose to ensure optimal results.

 

Tools Needed to Make Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill 

I recommend using the Thermapen for accurate & fast internal temperature readings

 

Tips for Making Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill 

Here are some tips to help you make a delicious spatchcocked turkey on the grill:

 

  1. Choose the right size turkey: Opt for a turkey that is around 12 to 14 pounds in weight. Larger turkeys may take longer to cook and can be challenging to fit on the grill.
  2. Prepare the turkey: Thoroughly pat the turkey dry with paper towels. This helps ensure crispy skin. If desired, season the turkey with your preferred dry rub or marinade, both on the skin and under the skin for maximum flavor.
  3. Spatchcock the turkey: Place the turkey breast-side down on a cutting board. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to carefully remove the backbone by cutting along both sides of it. Once the backbone is removed, flip the turkey over and press down on the breastbone to flatten it.
  4. Preheat the grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. It’s important to have an even and consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.
  5. Indirect heat cooking: Set up your grill for indirect heat by turning off the burners on one side or placing the charcoal on one side of the grill. This allows for more controlled cooking and helps prevent flare-ups.
  6. Grill the turkey: Place the spatchcocked turkey, skin-side up, on the cooler side of the grill. Close the lid and let it cook for about 12-15 minutes per pound, rotating the turkey occasionally for even cooking. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the thickest part of the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.
  7. Baste and monitor: Baste the turkey with your preferred basting sauce or melted butter every 30 minutes to keep it moist and flavorful. Keep an eye on the grill temperature and adjust as needed to maintain a steady heat.
  8. Let it rest: Once the turkey reaches the desired temperature, carefully remove it from the grill and transfer it to a cutting board. Allow it to rest for about 15-20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute before carving.
  9. Carve and serve: Carve the spatchcocked turkey into desired portions and serve it with your favorite side dishes and sauces.

 

Remember to follow proper food safety guidelines throughout the process, including handling raw poultry, and ensure the turkey is fully cooked before serving. Enjoy your flavorful and juicy spatchcocked turkey from the grill!

 

Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill FAQ

Q: What is spatchcocking?

A: Spatchcocking is a technique that involves removing the backbone of a bird (such as a turkey or chicken) and flattening it out to promote even cooking and crispy skin.

 

Q: Why should I spatchcock a turkey before grilling?

A: Spatchcocking a turkey allows for more even cooking and faster cooking times on the grill. It also helps to promote crispy skin and ensures that the entire bird cooks through without overcooking certain parts.

 

Q: How do I spatchcock a turkey?

A: To spatchcock a turkey, place it breast-side down on a cutting board. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to carefully cut along both sides of the backbone and remove it. Flip the turkey over and press down on the breastbone to flatten it.

 

Q: What type of turkey is best for spatchcocking and grilling?

A: It’s recommended to use a turkey that is around 12 to 14 pounds in weight for spatchcocking and grilling. Larger turkeys may take longer to cook and can be challenging to fit on the grill.

 

Q: How should I season a spatchcocked turkey?

A: You can season a spatchcocked turkey with your preferred dry rub or marinade. Ensure to season both the skin and under the skin for maximum flavor.

 

Q: What temperature should I grill the spatchcocked turkey at?

A: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat for cooking the spatchcocked turkey. It’s important to have an even and consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.

 

Q: How long does it take to grill a spatchcocked turkey?

A: The cooking time for a spatchcocked turkey on the grill is typically around 12-15 minutes per pound. However, it can vary depending on the specific grill and temperature used. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the turkey, which should reach 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.

 

Q: Should I baste the spatchcocked turkey while grilling?

A: Basting the spatchcocked turkey every 30 minutes with your preferred basting sauce or melted butter can help keep it moist and add flavor. However, it’s not necessary if you prefer a drier skin.

 

Q: How long should I let the spatchcocked turkey rest before carving?

A: After grilling, let the spatchcocked turkey rest for about 15-20 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier turkey when carved.

 

Q: Can I grill a spatchcocked turkey using charcoal instead of a gas grill?

A: Yes, you can grill a spatchcocked turkey using charcoal. Follow the same instructions for spatchcocking and adjust the charcoal placement for indirect heat cooking. Maintain a consistent temperature and adjust the airflow on the grill as needed.

 

Q: Can I use the spatchcocking technique for other meats?

A: Absolutely! The spatchcocking technique can be used for other meats like chicken, Cornish game hen, duck, quail, lamb, and more. Adjust the cooking time and temperature based on the specific meat you’re using for best results.

 

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Grill Girl, spatchcocked turkey on the grill

Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill


  • Author: Robyn

Description

The best part of this recipe is that it cuts down the cook time and it also frees up valuable oven space for some of those side dishes since you are using your grill, NOT your oven!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 large bunch rosemary, tarragon and thyme- leaves removed off the stems
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • sea salt, large pinch, large pinch
  • fresh ground pepper, large pinch
  • 1 turkey, spatchcocked with back bone removed (save yourself the trouble and have your butcher do this!)

Instructions

  1. If brining, brine overnight and then pat dry.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon juice with a stick blender.
  3. Next, lay the turkey out on a big cutting board or plate and spread it out. Slide your fingers under the skin and separate it from the meat to placement of butter. Slather butter underneath the breast, legs, etc- anywhere you can get butter underneath the skin- this is what is going to keep it moist (this is the unfun part but the results are worth it!).
  4. Heat your grill to 350 degrees. Lightly oil the grill grates and when nice and heated up, grill the turkey on each side for 8-10 minutes or until nice char marks have begun to form.
  5. Remove the turkey now and place on a grill safe pan so you can collect juices from the turkey to make gravy with.  **In order to get char marks and crispy edges, during the last 20 minutes, take out of the pan and put dirctly on the grill
  6. Now, place the turkey back onto the cooker and let cook until an internal read thermometer such as the ThermaPen or ChefAlarm, reads 170 degrees. Depending on the size of the turkey, this could take between 2 and 3+ hours. I had a smaller turkey that was approximately 10 lbs and it took 2.5 hours.

Notes

I used the Pit Barrel Cooker to cook this turkey.

The Pit Barrel Cooker is a drum smoker and grill and when grilling on direct heat, you are still fairly far away from the flames. However, with a kettle style grill I would recommend creating a direct and indirect cooking zone for this cook. (cooking direct over coals vs. cooking more like an oven, on the side without coals/direct heat source to simulate roasting or cooking in the oven.) So, for example, on a kettle grill I would grill the turkey first on direct for the char marks, and then let it continue to cook on indirect for the remainder of the cook.

 
 

 

*Affiliate links have been used in this post

 

Check out these related posts!

https://grillgirl.com/2015/06/beer-braised-and-grilled-country-style-ribs/

https://grillgirl.com/2017/02/grilled-mussels-garlic-herb-butter/

https://grillgirl.com/2014/05/cook-perfect-steak-using-reverse-sear-method/

 

doneness of steak

Get a FREE Steak Doneness Chart by signing up for my monthly newsletter!

We'll never spam you, just delicious grilling recipes delivered straight to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!