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Nov 18, 2012 08:22 AM

Cooking Time for Spatchcock Turkey?

I am trying to figure out how long it will take to cook my first turkey, ever. I am trying to follow a recipe. However, the recipe is using a 12 pound turkey, does not spatchcock and uses the high heat at the end.

I have a 16 pound turkey. I will dry brine for 3 days and spatchcock the turkey—separating the legs and thighs from the breast. After 1 hour of room temperature, I want to cook the turkey for one hour at 450◦, then cook at 300◦ until breast reads 160◦ and thigh reads 165◦ (assuming legs/thighs will take a bit longer). I will rest the turkey for 20 minutes. Can you tell me how long it will take to cook my turkey?

For anyone interested, I am trying to follow this BBQ Peking Turkey recipe here:

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  1. My experience with the details you provided (450/300 ), would be about 1.75 hours (12-14#s)- 2.5 hours(16#s) total time depending on the oven variables, i.e., oven calibration/accuracy or which shelf is used.....lower or middle....rack or no rack.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Thank you for the response fourunder.

      I bought an identical turkey and will run a time test, tomorrow. After studying your posts, I separated the legs and thighs. I am using a timer/thermometer and will temp breast and thighs separately.

      Is there a real benefit to flattening the breast? I have already cut out the backbone. Without flattening, it seems to have a nice shape and the skin seems to be somewhat taut. I scalded the skin with boiling water--causing goose bumps. Now, it's air drying in the fridge for 24 hours. I am trying to get the skin as crisp as possible.

      1. re: alan8

        The main benefit of spatchcocking poultry is to promote even and faster The real benefit for removing the breastbone, rib bones and wishbone......easy separation of the two breasts for easier slicing. Ultimately, there are only minimal differences in cooking time, but with the breastbone intact, it does hold form better if you want to present it on a platter before carving.

        I always carve in the kitchen and the turkey platter is presented at the table already sliced with the stuffing such, the presentation aspect is not important for me. preference is to roast the turkey at 450 for 20 minutes, then between 225-275 until it hits about 145-150....then brown again at the end to crisp the skin as then with holding and carryover effect, the turkey easily reaches the 160* safe zone. You can hold the turkey when it hits the 150 for 30 minutes, then put it back into the oven to crisp the skin further. (If you like a darker skinned turkey, use a mixture of soy sauce and butter to brush the turkey instead of basting). Remove the turkey and slice immediately without a second holding period. Using the lower 225 pretty much ensures moist breast/white meat.......if you have four hours...this is my recommendation.

    2. A spatchcocked turkey cooks fast.

      Just did this the other day with a dry-brined 10-lb turkey at 425 degrees the entire time and it was done (I took temperature readings) in 1.25 hours. Resting time was 15 minutes.

      The turkey was roasted perfectly -- juicy and with crisp skin, perfectly browned. It was so easy -- and I'm guessing I will not roast a turkey the traditional way again. Easier to baste this way also.

      No need to separate the legs/thighs from the breast -- that will reduce the cooking time even further. Simply score the breast keel bone from the inside, then press down firmly and the entire bird will flatten.

      Here are two resources:
      Martha Stewart's step-by-step photos

      and Mark Bittman's article on roasting a spatchcocked turkey in the NY Times here

      Be sure to use a thermometer. I was shocked the bird was done so fast. But it was perfect.

      2 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        My test turkey was a disaster. Cooking time was 2 hours. There was very uneven cooking throughout the turkey. Perfect 160◦ at one half breast the other 172◦. The rest of the turkey had temperatures from 123◦ – 198◦. The thighs seem to cook the fastest.

        For the Friday Thanksgiving turkey, I will cut turkey into parts and debone (including thighs & drumsticks). I will set oven to 275◦ and pull out parts as they reach either 160◦ or 165◦. I will let turkey parts rest ½ to 1 ½ hours. Just before serving, I will place all parts in 450◦ to crisp the skin.

        Anybody have an estimate of cooking time at 225◦ and/or 275◦? (only have 1 ½ hour window, before I have to refrigerate for safety).

        How long can I leave rested turkey pieces in 450◦ oven to crisp skin, before they dry out?

        1. re: alan8

          Depending on the thickness of the breasts....combined with the efficiency of your oven....I would expect your turkey to ready @ 2.5-3.0 hours at 275......up to an hour longer @ 225. The turkey will cook more evenly and faster if you remove the breastbone from the breast.

          Depending on how you hold your turkey... in the oven at 140* or outside the oven covered with foil......the skin should brown sufficiently in 10 minutes with butter or oil applied. If you like darker skin, a commercial kitchen trick is to add soy sauce.

      2. Alan,

        Did you get an answer for this? I am curious too.
        From what I've seen so far, it seems the 20 minutes per pound does not apply with this method. The best I can extrapolate is perhaps 10 min. per pound.
        I would think the higher heat, declining temp method might produce a dry bird. I would maintain an even 350* from the start to end.
        Please reply if you've come up with the answer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Frankman0


          Reading my notes from last year, I believe it took 165 minutes for a 16 lb turkey. So, your 10 minutes per lb. sounds about right to me.

          Good luck.