How to Cook a Butterflied Turkey

Turkey butterfly breast cooking times vary, depending on the weight of your bird.
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Roasting a butterflied turkey in the oven is the simplest way to prepare this tasty dish. Turkey butterfly breast cooking times vary, depending on the weight of your bird.

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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.


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 lowers the saturated fat content — the "bad" fat that can contribute to heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

Read more: How to Cook a 25-Pound Turkey

Step 1: Choose Your Seasonings

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: Prep the Turkey

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.

As another option, soak the turkey in a rich brine for two days before cooking for a deeper flavor. However, keep in mind that this can significantly increase the sodium content of your dish. The American Heart Association recommends a daily maximum sodium intake of no more than 2,300 milligrams per day.


Step 3: Heat the Oven

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

Step 4: Place in Dish

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. 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 the Bird

Roast for 2 1/2 hours, checking the bird every 25 minutes. Increase cooking times for larger turkeys. Go by internal temperature for readiness. 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: Check the Temperature

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, according to Mayo Clinic. The thermometer should read at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption, according to

Step 7: Rest and Serve

Remove from the oven when the skin is brown and crisp, but not burned. Take care removing the turkey from the oven; it's very heavy and easy to drop. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before serving to let the juices settle and the turkey meat rest.

Read more: 13 Healthy Baking Tips That Will Transform Your Food