By spatchcocking the turkey, resulting in more even cooking, and infusing it with the rich flavors of smoking, you’ll savor a bird like never before.
Spatchcocking for Efficiency and Flavor
The traditional process of defrosting and cooking an entire turkey can be time-consuming and challenging. However, this recipe simplifies the process by spatchcocking the turkey, ensuring even cooking and an aerodynamic shape. With quicker cook times and consistent temperatures across the breast and thighs, you’ll achieve an exceptional outcome that everyone will love.
How to Smoke a Spatchcock Turkey
Once your turkey is spatchcocked, it’s time to butter, season, and smoke it to perfection.
To impart an incredible depth of flavor, generously spread a quality salted butter underneath the turkey’s skin before smoking. Opt for the real deal, as substitutions won’t offer the same level of deliciousness.
Since the butter and smoke will infuse the turkey with delectable flavors, there’s no need for extravagant seasonings. Keep it simple with salt and pepper. Drizzle the entire turkey with extra virgin olive oil, ensuring it’s evenly coated. Then, liberally season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. For the best taste, I recommend using high-quality kosher salt and cracking the pepper just before seasoning.
Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F, using your preferred hardwood. While almond wood was used in this recipe, pecan, apple, alder, or maple will also yield outstanding results. Smoke the turkey for approximately 4-4 1/2 hours. The turkey is ready when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast, as measured with a reliable instant-read thermometer. The thighs should register around 175-185 degrees F.
Allow the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving. This ensures the juices redistribute, resulting in a succulent and flavorful bird.
Tips for Cooking a Spatchcock Smoked Turkey
To ensure your turkey is perfectly cooked and bursting with juicy flavor, consider the following tips, particularly for larger gatherings such as Thanksgiving:
Opt for a smaller turkey:
If possible, choose a turkey weighing under 15 pounds. Larger turkeys require more time in the temperature danger zone of 40-140 degrees F. If you require more turkey, consider cooking two smaller birds instead of purchasing a larger one.
Save drippings for gravy:
If you plan to make gravy using the turkey drippings, place the spatchcocked turkey on a flat cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. While this may slightly increase the cooking time, it will yield ample buttery drippings for your delicious gravy.
- 1 15-pound turkey (spatchcocked)
- 8 tablespoons salted butter (softened)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
Preheat the smoker:
Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F, using your preferred hardwood. Pecan, maple, apple, or alder are excellent choices. In this recipe, almond wood was used for a unique flavor experience.
Spatchcock the turkey:
Remove any giblets, neck, or other internal parts from the turkey. Place the turkey breast side down and use kitchen shears to cut up both sides to remove the backbone. Snip the inside of the breastbone and turn the turkey over. Gently press down on the center of the breast until you hear a crack, allowing the breast to lay flat. Tuck the wing tips behind the wings.
Spread butter under the turkey skin:
Carefully separate the turkey skin from the breast and thigh meat. Take 2 tablespoons of softened butter and insert it between the skin and the first breast. Spread the butter evenly across the breast by pressing on the skin’s exterior. Repeat this process for the remaining breast and each thigh until all the butter is distributed under the turkey’s skin.
Season with oil, salt, and pepper:
Place the turkey breast side down on your work surface. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the turkey, spreading it with your hands. Season the turkey with salt and black pepper. Flip the turkey over and drizzle the remaining olive oil, ensuring an even coating. Season the top of the turkey with salt and black pepper.
Smoke the spatchcocked turkey:
Transfer the turkey directly to your smoker grates, ensuring the wings are tucked, the thighs are turned out, and the turkey is lying flat. Close the lid and smoke for approximately 4 to 4.5 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees F. The thighs will likely register higher temperatures, around 175-185 degrees F, which is perfect.
Rest the turkey:
Carefully remove the turkey from the smoker and place it on a large cutting board. Allow the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
Carve and serve:
Begin by removing the thighs and legs. Separate the leg, leaving it whole. Remove the skin from the thighs, shred the thigh meat, and mix it with the chopped skin. Carefully remove the wings, cutting them at the joints into individual pieces. Use a knife to run along the central breast line, then turn the knife and slice against the ribs to remove the breast completely. Slice the breast into your desired thickness. Arrange the carved turkey on a serving platter and garnish with herbs, if desired. Enjoy!
Indulge in the succulent and buttery deliciousness of this smoked spatchcock turkey, which will undoubtedly steal the spotlight as the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving feast.