How to Cook a Butterflied Turkey

A butterflied turkey is flattened and stretched out in a meaty butterfly shape. The entire backbone is removed, making it easier to spread, cook and carve than whole turkeys. The simplest way to cook a butterflied turkey is to roast it in an oven. Using a herb rub or marinade before cooking gives the turkey a richer flavor and keeps the flesh moist and the skin crisp. Cooking times vary depending on the weight of your butterflied turkey. Using olive oil instead of butter for the rub lowers the saturated fat content.

Young woman looking into an oven. (Image: Alexei Cruglicov/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Combine your seasonings, which can include ground fennel seeds, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the olive oil and mix well.

Step 2

Place the butterflied turkey skin side-up on a clean 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 at least six hours or overnight.

Step 3

Remove all racks from your oven and set the temperature to 375 degrees F. Place one of the racks at the lowest level in the oven with no racks above.

Step 4

Place the turkey on a roasting tray, skin-up. Pour half a cup of chicken stock into the tray around the turkey. Put the tray with turkey into the oven on the rack.

Step 5

Roast for 2 1/2 hours, checking the bird every 25 minutes. 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 each time you open the oven to check.

Step 6

Push a meat thermometer into the very center of the thickest part of the turkey. Undercooked poultry can trigger salmonella or other food borne illnesses. It should read at least 165 degrees F for safe consumption.

Step 7

Remove from the oven when the skin is brown and crisp, but not burned. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before serving to let the juices settle and the turkey meat relax.

Things You'll Need

  • 14 pound turkey

  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds

  • 3 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoon fresh rosemary

  • Black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • Roasting tray

  • Chicken stock

  • Serving spoon

  • Meat thermometer


Soak the turkey in a rich brine for two days before cooking for a deeper flavor.

If the drumsticks and wings overlap the tray slightly, try to tuck them in as much as possible.


Take care removing the turkey from the oven; it's very heavy and easy to drop.

Increase cooking times for larger turkeys. Go by internal temperature for readiness.

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