For a no-fuss holiday centerpiece, try roasting a butterflied turkey in the oven. A butterflied, or spatchcocked, turkey is flattened and stretched out in a meaty butterfly shape — the entire backbone is removed, making it easier to cook and carve than whole turkeys.
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Use an herb rub or marinade before cooking to give the turkey a richer flavor and keep the flesh moist and the skin crisp. Using olive oil instead of butter for the rub ensures you don't add saturated fat — the "bad" type of fat that can contribute to heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Before putting your chef's hat on, note that turkey cooking times vary depending on the weight of your bird, so check the cooking time chart below.
How to Butterfly a Turkey
Here's how to butterfly a turkey, according to the grill brand Camp Chef.
Things You'll Need
- Turn the turkey over on its back and cut down both sides of the backbone with a large knife.
- Remove the backbone.
- Turn the turkey breast-side up and firmly press down until it lays flat.
How to Roast a Butterflied Turkey
Things You'll Need
Kosher salt (optional)
Large mixing bowl
Large cutting board
Step 1: Choose Your Seasonings
Combine your seasonings — try fresh rosemary, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper — in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the olive oil and stir it well.
Step 2: Marinate or Brine the Turkey
Option 1: Place the butterflied turkey skin-side up on a clean cutting board. Drizzle the seasoning and olive oil mixture over the top. Work it under the skin on the breast and leg with your fingers. Coat the entire top of the bird and spread a little to the underside.
Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Option 2: Alternatively, soak the turkey in a saltwater brine — made with 1 cup kosher salt to every gallon of water, per the National Turkey Federation — for 2 days before cooking for a deeper flavor.
But keep in mind that this can significantly increase the sodium content of your dish.
Step 3: Preheat the Oven
Remove all racks from your oven and set the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place one of the racks at the lowest level in the oven.
Step 4: Prep the Turkey
Place the turkey on a roasting tray, skin-side up. If the drumsticks and wings overlap the tray slightly, try to tuck them in as much as possible.
Step 5: Add Chicken Stock
Pour a 1/2 cup of chicken stock into the tray around the turkey. Put the tray with turkey into the oven on the rack.
Step 6: Roast the Bird
Roast for at least an hour and 15 minutes — a larger bird will need more time, so check the time chart below.
Add extra stock if the tray goes dry. Use a serving spoon to take some of the juices from the tray and pour over the top of the butterflied turkey halfway through the cooking process.
Step 7: Check the Temperature
Push a meat thermometer into the very center of the thickest part of the turkey.
Make sure to cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid foodborne illness, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Step 8: Rest and Serve
Remove from the oven when the skin is brown and crisp, but not burned.
Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving to let the juices settle.
Spatchcock Turkey Cooking Time Chart
Cook Time at 325 F
1 hr. 15 mins - 1 hr. 45 mins.
1 hr. 30 mins - 2 hrs.
1 hr. 45 mins. - 2 hrs. 15 mins.
2 hrs. - 2 hrs. 30 mins.
2 hrs. 15 mins - 2 hrs. 45 mins.