Are you looking for an easy way to prepare your turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas? One of the easiest ways to prepare a turkey is by spatchcocking it. Smoked Spatchcock Turkey is a simple to follow recipe that doesn't require a lot of time, or babysitting to produce really exceptional results.
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Why You Should Spatchcock Your Holiday Turkey
There are a few reasons why this is my preferred method to smoke a turkey for the holidays.
- Smoked Spatchcock Turkey results in a more even cook - all of the parts of the bird come up to temp around the same time.
- This method makes it possible to cook the bird a little faster than smoking a whole turkey.
- Spatchcocking a turkey gives you easier access to all of the meat on the bird, making it much easier to apply your brine.
How to Make Smoked Spatchcock Turkey
Spatchcocking a turkey is easy to do. The day before you will smoke the turkey is when you should spatchcock it. Place the turkey on a cutting board with the spine on top. Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears cut along the entire length of one side of the spine. Repeat the process on the other side of the spine allowing you to completely remove it.
After removing the spine flip the turkey over, and while gripping both sides of the turkey breast with your fingers underneath, gently press down. This will pop a few bones and flatten out the bird.
How to Brine a Spatchcocked Turkey
After spatchcocking the turkey it's time to apply the brine.
I like to dry brine spatchcocked turkey. Dry brining involves liberally salting the underside of the bird, the skin, and underneath the skin. After applying the dry brine you place the bird in a large pan in your refrigerator for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours.
At the beginning of the dry brining process, the salt will pull moisture out of the turkey and sit on the skin, then the moisture will slowly get pulled back into the meat of the bird, pulling the seasonings with it. This results in some incredible flavor and moisture.
What Kind of Dry Brine Should I Use?
There are a few different ways to prepare your dry brine. My favorite dry brine is Jacobsen Salt Co's Savory Citrus Brine. I like this brine because it's pre-mixed and adds a little more flavor than just brining with kosher salt.
If you're using kosher salt to brine the bird that's ok! A 12-pound turkey will use about 3 Tbsp of kosher salt to effectively dry brine it.
Smoking a Spatchcocked Turkey
After the turkey has brined it's time to smoke it. Set up your smoker to smoke at 225 degrees using indirect heat. I like to use Hickory or Maple wood for turkey. Mesquite is a good option if you want a little more smoke flavor.
Place the spatchcocked turkey directly on your grill grates underside down, and let it smoke for 2 hours. After two hours adjust the temperature up on your smoker to 350 degrees. Place a temp probe in the thickest part of the turkey breast to monitor temps, and let the turkey cook until the internal temp hits 160.
The safe temperature on turkey is 165 degrees, but if you pull the turkey off the grill at 160 the carryover while it's resting will easily get the meat to 165 degrees.
If you'd like a little crispier skin you can combine a stick of melted butter with a tablespoon of bbq rub and brush it on the skin of the turkey when you turn the temp up to 350. When the internal temperature hits 150 crank the heat up to 450 and the skin will turn a nice golden brown color and have tons of great flavor.
I hope you consider this smoked spatchcock turkey recipe for your holiday dinner this year. It's a simple method that produces some really great results.
Smoked Spatchcock Turkey
- 12 pound turkey
- 3 Tbsp kosher salt or dry brine
- 2 sticks melted butter
- 1 Tbsp bbq rub
- Spatchcock the turkey the day before you'll be smoking it.
- Apply the dry brine to the underside of the bird, the skin, and underneath the skin.
- Place the turkey on a cookie sheet uncovered and let it cool in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
- Smoke the turkey at 225 degrees for 2 hours.
- Adjust the temperature up to 350 degrees and cook the turkey until the internal temperature hits 160 degrees.
- Let the turkey rest for 15 minutes before slicing - this allows adequate time for the turkey to rise in temp to a safe eating temperature of 165 degrees.