Smoked Spatchcock Turkey

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.

Looking for an easy way to prepare the holiday turkey? This smoked spatchcock turkey recipe is simple and produces 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.

  1. Smoked Spatchcock Turkey results in a more even cook – all of the parts of the bird come up to temp around the same time.
  2. This method makes it possible to cook the bird a little faster than smoking a whole turkey.
  3. Spatchcocking a turkey gives you easier access to all of the meat on the bird, making it much easier to apply your brine.
spatchcocked turkey on a smoker

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.

smoked spatchcock turkey

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.

smoked spatchcock turkey

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.

spatchcocked turkey on a smoker
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4.42 from 198 votes

Smoked Spatchcock Turkey

Looking for an easy to follow smoked turkey recipe? This smoked spatchcock turkey recipe is easy to make and produces amazing results.
Course Holidays
Cuisine Barbecue
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Rest Time 15 minutes
Total Time 16 hours 45 minutes
Servings 12 pounds
Author Nick @


  • 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.


I use a Thermoworks Smoke and Thermapen to monitor the temperature of my turkey while it’s cooking.
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17 Replies to “Smoked Spatchcock Turkey

  1. Just a word of warning. If you are going to smoke your turkey for a couple hours at a lower temperature without a pan underneath then crank the temp to 450 there is a good chance you could get a grease fire. You could also get an unpleasant burnt flavor from all the grease burning off.

  2. Your list of ingredients calls for 2 sticks of butter, but the instructions do not mention butter. What happens with the 2 sticks of butter?

    1. It’s mentioned in the description above, not the instructions: “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.”

  3. I always put a aluminum turkey sized pan on the grill grate just under the one the bird is on.
    Fill it a third of the way with water or Apple juice or a combo of the two. This will add moisture to the bird and keep it from having a burnt taste from the drippings.

  4. Definitely didn’t need to turn heat up to 450 to get the skin golden brown. At internal temp of 150 I lifted lid on my pitboss to butter the skin and skin was already a golden brown but I was going by the directions and buttered the skin and turned heat up to 450. About 10 minutes later when internal temp reached 160 and temp of smoker was almost 450 I lifted lid to peak in and a nice grease fire was going. I closed lid (that kept flame down) and got my cutting board and got the turkey off the smoker. Bird was just a little chared on underside not bad could have been worse. I shut smoker off and closed lid and vent on stack to close off oxygen to fire and got a box of baking soda ready to dump on it if grease fire got worse. Lifting lid about every 5 minutes to check in the grease fire it was burning down and finally went out after 10 minutes so I didn’t need to make a mess in my smoker with baking soda. I did read a post someone left about turning it up to 450 might cause a grease fire but I did it anyway. Lesson learned, turning heat up to 450 will cause a grease fire. Letting the turkey rest the residual heat got the internal temp up to 168.

    1. For a Dry Brine like this suggests, no, don’t rinse it off. The salt more than likely has already penetrated deep into the bird. Just enjoy the wonderful flavor.

  5. I have a small barrel smoker, i tend to have great success at getting the temp to 250 and hold for hours. should I remove the bird from the smoker after 2 hours and place on the gas grill to reach the higher temps?

    1. You can go either way, and it depends on how you feel about the skin. If you like the skin the way it is then I wouldn’t change anything. If you’re looking for a crispier skin then you might consider putting it briefly on the gas grill or trying to increase the temp on your smoker(which can be from a certain point, it doesn’t have to be the entire time).

  6. Looking to try your recipe, Ive order the Jacobsen Dry Brine. Do you add another BBQ Rub, if so which?
    Also, trying to smoke this for our first time using our Pit Boss Vertical Smoker. Please share any guidance. thanks!!

    1. I would still use a rub. A brine is something that happens before going on and should help but is different. If you signup for our newsletter it includes some of our rubs but there are also a lot of pre-made options out there that you can buy.

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