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Roasting a spatchcocked turkey -- approximately how long?

Canadian Thanksgiving is only a few days away and I've decided to try spatchcocking my turkey this year. It will be a 15 pounder. Does anyone have a sense of how long that will take? Based on the comments I read in the NY Times Bittman video, it looks like I should plan for anywhere from 1.5 - 2 hours. But if anyone here has direct experience, I would appreciate some guidance.

And has anyone cooked stuffing under a spatchcocked bird before? Do I lose all hope of have pan juices this way? I'm making gravy ahead of time with parts anyway, so it's not a huge deal, but it's always nice to add the fresh juices and deglazed bits to the gravy at the last minute.


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  1. Never cooked a spatchcocked turkey...Lots of chickens, but no turkeys.

    I would plan on 3 hours, prior to service, in the 325*-350* range just to make sure....165* throughout is your target temperature!!

    Have Fun & Enjoy!!!!

    1. I did a butterflied turkey a few years back. Browned the flesh side under the broiler, flipped it skin-side up, and roasted at 350 until done. It took about an hour and a half and there were plenty of pan juices.

      1. I forgot to report back on this. My 16 pound turkey took 2 hours and was perfectly done and juicy. I did 425 for 30 minutes, then reduced the heat to 375. I checked it at the two hour mark and it was done! It's quite possible that it could have been taken out sooner, but I was following this recipe from the Washington Post:


        It was a fabulous turkey and I will never make turkey any other way again. I've tried every possible method over the years for getting most breast meat and this was the easiest, most non-stress way I've found. I did salt and herb the turkey for two days in the fridge. So damn good.

        3 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          If you want to try something different, try roasting the legs and thighs removed, and the rib cages removed from the breast meat, wings detached or left on. Myself, I leave the wings on......You can leave the breast bone and rib cage in if you plan to present at the table for a better shape, but I also remove the breast bone as well.......now roast the bird low and slow @ 225* on a rack. I've been roasting my turkey for holiday meals this way for over 10 years now and all the family and friends say it's the only way they enjoy white meat now. Depending on the size of your turkey, expect it to take 4-6 hours.....I brown the skin at the end for ten minutes with butter and it looks picture perfect every time. It will take less time to reach temperature without the rib cage bones and thigh/leg bones.....which I use for stock the day before.


          1. re: TorontoJo

            Question for you.. what temp did you cook your turkey too, the recipe says 170 but it seems like most recipes these days have you pull it out before then... Thanks for your help!

            1. re: Carbear99

              It was actually just over 170 (which is why I said it probably could have come out earlier). But it was all still very juicy. I would actually start checking temp at the 1.5 hour mark next time.

          2. Ours took one hour ten minutes at 450. Wonderful. The timing was based on the current Martha Stewart feature.

            It actually registered at 180 as I took it out and I freaked but somehow it was wonderful nonetheless. We salted a la Zuni and air dried for two days.

            Glorious skin. Seriously, some of the nicest skin on any bird I've ever seen.

            1. This will be my first time to spatchcock a turkey, but I do it with chickens all the time, whether grilling or roasting. Yes, I have put stuffing under rather than in split birds before, whether done like this or simply cut in half (split broilers and game hens). You will want to start with a drier stuffing, or else you're likely to wind up with bread soup under there! I am considering doing this with my turkey; haven't quite decided yet, because another way to go is to cut up celery, onions and carrots to roast the bird on top of, then purée those as the thickener for the gravy. Quite different, but very tasty and much healthier than the usual kind with the flour-and-butter roux.

              1. I always roast chicken in this fashion and last year did a turkey, also. Great technique and the time is reduced. I'd start at 425 and reduce to 375 after 30 minutes. Either dry brine or use a kosher bird. Rub on olive oil and roast until 160-165 degrees, let rest, lightly covered with foil. As for stuffing, a semi-dry mix placed in a foil container under the bird works well enough.

                15 Replies
                1. re: brooktroutchaser

                  I'm planning to try spatchcocking this year but I'm wondering if it's doable at home, or if I should have the guy at the meat counter do it for me. I take the backbones out of chickens all the time, but I know turkeys are much bigger and their bones a lot harder, and I'm concerned that I'll kill myself or someone else in the attempt. Will a decent pair of kitchen shears do the trick?

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    I have my butcher take the backbone out, then I just have to battle the turkey at home to break the breast bone (and it can be a bit of a battle!). However, my SIL did it herself at home and said it wasn't such a big deal. She used both her kitchen shears and a sharp knife. But honestly, if you have the option to have someone else do it for you, then I would take advantage of that.

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Kitchen shears will not do the trick easily, especially on a larger bird.....a cleaver works best.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Yeah, that's what I figured - and a cleaver is the one piece of kitchen equipment I don't have, LOL. I will have to see if they can do it for me at the store - I usually just get a freebie turkey though, so I'm not sure the meat guys will be willing (or allowed) to do it for me. We shall see!

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          my knives and such are terrible. my butcher had no idea what "spatchcocking" was, but when i said remove the backbone to make it lay flat, he did it in a couple minutes. also broke the breastplate for me. easy-peazy for him.

                          it's dry-brining à la russ parson right now and takes up way less room in my fridge this way too.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            Dry brining and spatchcocking have totally changed my opinion of cooking turkeys since my original question. I've made 4 or 5 turkeys this way and can't imagine doing it any other way.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Yeah, mine is dry brining too - without the backbone, I was able to kind of roll it into a weird turkey roulade and fit it into a tiny corner of the fridge! So much easier than a wet brine or even a dry brine on a whole bird. If it cooks up nicely I'll never go back.

                              As far as cooking goes, what method do you guys use? I usually cook my whole birds with a high-heat method (450 all the way, no opening of the oven or anything), but that monopolizes my oven and smokes up the house like crazy, plus the drippings tend to burn. I was thinking of doing the high-low method with this one - 450 for 30 mins then 350 till the breast meat is around 162. I was also thinking of using a foil shield on the breast during the 350 phase, because I like the leg meat cooked a little more thoroughly and I don't want the breast to dry out. Thoughts?

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                I do 425 for 30 mins, then down to 375 for the rest of the time.

                                The beauty of spatchcocking is that the turkey is not in the oven long enough for the breast to dry out, even if you leave it in a bit longer for the thighs and legs to cook more. And I think you'll find that your dark meat cooks faster than you would expect because they a re so much more exposed in the oven in "turkey porn" position (which is how of think of a spatchcocked turkey :). The nice thing is that I've cooked an 18 lb. turkey for 1.5 hours and for 2 hours and it's always cooked through and moist, even with the extra 30 mins.

                                All of that was a long winded way of saying that I don't think you'll need to shield your turkey breast. :)

                                1. re: TorontoJo

                                  Thank you! Maybe I'll ice it and forgo the shield - I want the skin as brown as possible, since it's the only part of the turkey I care to eat!!!! :)

                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                    avoid the foil. it may trap steam and that will reduce crispy skin factor.

                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                      Instead of shielding with foil or icing it, I save some dressing out of the batch I'm baking and stuff it under the breast skin. This both bastes the breast meat (yes, LOTS of butter!) and insulates it.

                            2. re: fourunder

                              I can use my poultry shears on any turkey I've done that to, but then I never get one over twelve pounds. Mine are pretty heavy duty, Italian I think, with heavy curved serrated blades. I do need to wear gloves to keep from bruising my hands (a thing old folks do too easily!).

                              1. re: fourunder

                                I got my 18lb turkey home today and spatchcocked it with no problems - I started it with the kitchen shears, but it soon became clear that I was going to need something heavier. I have an old heavy chef's knife that sharpens up well but doesn't hold an edge worth a damn, so I use it for heavy dulling work frequently. I sharpened it up and had the job done in no time!

                                1. re: biondanonima

                                  This year's spatchcocked turkey, originally 21 pounds before removing the backbone, took 4.5 hours....The first 20 minutes @ 475* when placed in the oven., then the oven was reduced down to 250* for the next four hours. I removed the turkey from the oven and turned the heat back up to 475 for 10 minutes... then replaced the turkey into the oven for a high heat blast for 15 minutes to crisp the skin some more. The turkey was on top of a flat rack and the roasting pan was rotated halfway through @ 2.5 hours into roasting time.

                                  Moist tender turkey with crispy skin.

                              2. re: biondanonima

                                I just did mine, a 16.6 lbs bird (as purchased) with a sharp Wüsthof Granton edge santuko, which happens to be the knife that I usually use for spatchcocking chickens, as well. It was a little harder than doing a chicken, but not really that hard. The important thing it that your knife needs to be sharp enough to cut through the bones. You may have to stop once or twice to crack a bone with your hands, but no biggie. I'm not very strong, and I even have a herniated lumbar disc this week, so that pretty much guarantees I can't put much force into it!

                                Also, try to make sure the turkey is on a secure surface, so it won't slip out from underneath the knife. I hold mine up vertically, which seems to help me cut straight down through all the bones.

                                Oh, also, I roast poultry at 375, usually, and never higher than 400. Any higher and you risk burning the juices and skin before the inside of the thigh is properly cooked. 375 seems about ideal for a spatchcocked chicken to me. I see that many spatchcocked turkey recipes specify 450 degrees, but I'm too chicken for that! I just don't trust that I'll have anything that will be OK for making gravy at the end. I'm shooting for about 2 hours with this bird, which is roasting atop a bed of sliced onions, unpeeled garlic cloves, celery spears, and halved carrots. I seasoned it with EVOO, sea salt, and Bell's poultry seasoning, and let it sit out to reach room temp. Oh, and the bird was bought fresh, rather than frozen.

                            3. I have a ten-pound spatchcocked turkey that I plan to roast on Thursday. How long should I allow? I've looked at various internet recipes, but haven't been able to find instructions a la "x number of minutes per pound". Help please!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                It's a pretty forgiving cooking method and very hard to overcook. I would check the temperature at around 60 - 70 minutes to start with. 90 minutes would be the max, assuming you are roasting at 375 or higher.

                                1. re: TorontoJo

                                  Thank you so much! Gotta love Chowhounds!

                                2. re: nofunlatte

                                  Mark Bittman does his 10 pounder for 45 min. 450 degrees for 20 min, then down to 350 degrees for 30-35 min.


                                3. Has anyone ever tried doing two 8-10 lb. turkeys at the same time on each of the oven's shelves? A la Mark Bittman - 45 minutes? I would rather spatchcock two small turkeys and have double the thighs/breasts than wrestle with a giant 20+ lb'er for a crowd.

                                  1. Doing my turkey on a rotisserie I dont get drippings. Iuse browned turkey necks for making broth and use the meat from the necks in the gravy. Necks make the best gravy.

                                    1. Easy 'spatchcocked' turkey: Buy two turkey breasts, two wings, two drum sticks, two thighs. Arrange in roasting pan. Put in 210F oven until the breasts read 160F. Crank up heat to max. Watch bird like a hawk. In a couple of minutes the 'spatchcocked' bird will have a golden brown skin. Remove and tent. When serving drop one body part on each plate according to preference. But four guests want a drum stick? If you know in advance just throw a few more drum sticks/thighs in the pan. Tell your guests you bought a new type of 'genetically altered' turkey. It has four legs and no wings. 'Bob's your uncle'.
                                      I like my turkey whole. LOL

                                      1. My standard way to roast a chicken is to spatchcock it, and lay it on a flat rack ABOVE the bottom of the pan. I take a rack and place it across the pan, allowing heat to circulate around the bird.

                                        I crank up the heat to 450 or so, roast the bird until it's nice and brown and crispy for about 15 minutes (with fans blasting smoke out the open window). Then, I simply turn the oven off. The chicken cooks while the oven is coming down in temp. You must warn people from even thinking about opening the oven during the process. About 45 minutes later you get perfect chicken. A Chinese guy taught me this method.

                                        I am going to do the same with a 13 lb turkey this year, but dry brine it (I salted and herbed it yesterday) and rather than turning the oven off, will bring it down to like 275 for the remaining cooking time.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: EarlyBird

                                          I'm thinking of trying this high-low method with my turkey too (I usually do all high heat). I have a 20-lb beast, though (it's down to about 18 now that I've taken out the backbone, giblets, neck and trimmed some fat). How long do you estimate per pound at that lower temperature?

                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                            Because there will be so much residual heat after the heat blast, I think you're looking at 15 - 20 minutes per pound thereafter. With the back out, it will go pretty fast. Of course, it will depend on how low the "low" heat is. Remember though, cook to temp rather than time. I plan on checking the internal meat temperature with a quick read thermometer after about 45 minutes. I bet it will go a lot faster than you might imagine.

                                            1. re: EarlyBird

                                              I disagree with these estimates. A spatchcocked turkey roasts very fast.

                                              My 10-pounder three days ago was done -- completely -- in 75 minutes. 425 degrees the entire time. It was perfect. Golden, crispy skin and perfectly cooked breast and dark meat.

                                              Get an instant-read thermometer of some sort and check your bird at 2 hours 10 minutes (8 minutes per pound). The quicker roasting is from the greater surface area exposed to the heat, the higher temp, and the heat contact with the pan. But it's far, far faster than what I'm reading here.

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                Yes, when I roast my spatchcocked bird at high heat it does go very fast - last year's 18-lber cooked in less than two hours at 450. I have a remote probe thermometer and a thermapen, so checking the temp isn't an issue - I'm just wondering how long I should plan for it to be taking up oven space if I decide to go with the high-low method. 10 mins a pound (which I'm thinking is a decent estimate at 250-275) would be three hours, which may throw off my schedule too much. It may just get the high heat treatment again!

                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                  I am doing 30 min. at 425 degrees, then dropping temp. to 350 and allowing about another 1 to 1.5 hours for my two 12 pounders. using a temp. probe as well. just allowing up to two hours total. plus half hour resting/tented with foil. will cook sweet spud casserole, mashed spuds, gravy during that resting time. panade on the grill.

                                                2. re: maria lorraine

                                                  Yes, if you're going to go high heat for the entire cooking time, it will certainly go faster than my estimate. You'll see we were discussing a high heat blast followed by a low temp cooking period.

                                              2. re: biondanonima

                                                I will mix butter,olive oil and sage.and thyme mixed and push under tthe skin. Really makes difference in moisture. Figure 15 min per #. Tenderness of meat makes a difference. If you get it done early just hold in oven @ 150.

                                                1. re: alleycat20

                                                  Yes to the butter, olive oil, sage and thyme under the skin. Yum.

                                                  1. re: EarlyBird

                                                    Yes again. But play with it folks. I've used schmaltz (chicken fat) before and wanna talk about yummy....and healthier than butter.

                                                  2. re: alleycat20

                                                    After you remove the back and neck , extra skin. That makes the bird about three pounds less.

                                              3. I am definitely trying this! Thanks everyone for all the great advice.

                                                1. With regards to cooking times for a Spatchcock Turkey.....I would caution anyone to only rely on information for a Turkey similar in size and weight...and being roasted at the same temperature as the ones making their recommendations.

                                                  There's a big difference in a 14 and under pound bird...as opposed to a larger bird 14 pounds and over.. With a larger bird, I recommend you use a moderate or lower temperature to roast your Turkey.. Smaller Turkey can be roasted at 425-450.

                                                  If I recall, Wolfgang Puck has a recipe for a Turkey with breastbone, rib cage, legs and thighs remove and cooked separately for a 14 pound turkey....he suggests 450* for 1.5 hours as a guideline.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                    I just roasted a quarter of turkey. It was the hind quarter, leg, thigh, adjacent backbone and a portion of the breast. At 4lb, the whole bird must have been around 16lb.

                                                    I seasoned it on all sides with 'tuscan seasoned salt' from the WF bulk bins, and roasted it on a rack on a half sheet pan, with some chopped onion and carrot below. 325 for about 2 1/2 hrs, but relied on the probe thermometer more than time - 165F. I was quite happy with the result, flavorful skin, meat about the right doneness.

                                                    This was for a Monday night Thanksgiving 'lite' for 2 people. For Thanksgiving itself I'm bringing cranberry chutneys and sauces, and leaving the bird to others (though I may be asked to carve it).

                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                      I couldn't agree more. I use puck's guideline as a starter but watch carefully.

                                                    2. With it spread out, the cooking time has more to do with the thickness of individual parts, rather than the weight of the whole bird. When I did a 4 lb quarter of a bird, the time was similar to what others are mentioning for a whole one (adjusting for the fact that I used 325).

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        I followed this recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                                                        My 14lb turkey took about 80-90 minutes. at 440(F). I didn't flip it and I had room in my oven for the final back of the stuffing and had the backbone for gravy.
                                                        Also, I put veggies on the bottom of my broiling pan to soak up the dripping from the bird and prevent smoke setting off my detectors. (Tip from the article and it worked!


                                                        I took it out of the oven at 152 +/-2 . Let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Carry over time brought the meat to meet USDA safety temps. It came meat was moist the skin was crisp.
                                                        I just used a "dry brine". the night before. Everything turned out great. Plus, I didn't have to house a big cooler full of turkey liquid for days.

                                                      2. Well, bird's been brining since last night. After much advice to the contrary, I thought I'd attempt to remove the back bone myself since it was too late to ask my butcher. Armed with my "never let me down", 20 year old pair of Henkels poultry shears, it took only minutes to remove that sucker! I will brine for another three or so hours, dry, salt and leave uncovered until tomorrow am. My family dinner has moved up to tomorrow at 1:30. I almost had to sedate DH when he saw me removing that bone. Little does he know that tomorrow before I cook it, he'll be taking it on the verandah to flatten it and break the breast bone!
                                                        After much reading, I am going to make a composed butter and slide it under the skin (frozen butter under the breast). I am going to roast on low for 80%, baste and crank up the heat for the rest.
                                                        Now, I need to double check to see how many hours, but it looks still like it'll take 3.5 hrs for the first low cooking part.