How to Spatchcock Turkey in 2 Easy Steps: Photos & Video

by Jim Casey
photo by Outsider

Don’t be intimidated by the word “spatchcock.” It simply means cooking a whole turkey or chicken after splitting it open (along the backbone). Credit the Irish with the origin of the lively portmanteau, a combination of the words “dispatch” and “cock.” Why do we love spatchcock turkey and chicken? Spatchcocking allows the bird to sit flat so that it cooks evenly, and the skin gets crispy.

And, it’s really, really simple to do.

How to Spatchcock Turkey

Position the turkey breast-side down on a cutting board. With a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting along both sides of it. You can use the backbone to make turkey stock or gravy. Or, feel free to chunk it in the garbage if homemade stock isn’t your thing.


Press the turkey flat with your hands until the breastbone cracks. Congrats. You’re a spatchcockin’ specialist. Now, just flip the bird over and grill, smoke, or roast.

Variation for Chicken

Instead of cutting the backbone completely out, you can make just one cut, leaving the backbone attached.

After grilling the bird (a chicken in this photo), you can cut the backbone out and make chicken stock.

Smoking Whole Spatchcock Turkey

If you need a quick video tutorial on how to smoke a spatchcock turkey on the Big Green Egg, we’ve got you covered. Just follow our Rule of 3: spatchcock, spice, and smoke—and you’ll have delicious Thanksgiving turkey in about three hours. Let’s simplify the cooking of the turkey this year. All you need are a few ingredients and a grill.