Ding ding ding! The winner of the best centerpiece for a feast is smoked spatchcocked turkey!
After smoking turkey several times whole I’m fully convinced that doing it spatchcocked, or “butterflied”, is not only quicker, but it’s simply better for a crispier skin and a more consistent cook.
Less drama, more smokiness, more deliciousness.
Here’s why smoking turkey spatchcocked at 275°F trumps all others, how long to smoke spatchcocked turkey at 275°F, and some other expert tips for smoking spatchcocked turkey.
Best Temperature For Smoking Spatchcocked Turkey
There are some meats that benefit from low and slow smoking more than others. For example, brisket or pork butt requires a much lower temperature and a much longer time for the fat and connective tissue to effectively “break down” to ensure the meat comes out tender.
For poultry like chicken and turkey, however, there is no connective tissue that needs to break down.
For this reason, slightly higher temperatures seem to actually produce the best results. With that said, the best temperature for smoking spatchcocked turkey is hitting that 275°F sweet spot.
Smoking turkey at 275°F still allows time to develop that distinct smoky taste we’re all addicted to, doesn’t turn the skin rubbery, and also properly cooks the turkey. All in a cook that doesn’t take all day either!
How Long To Smoke A Spatchcocked Turkey At 275°F?
Alright, so we’ve determined that 275°F is the sweet spot for smoking a spatchcocked turkey, how long is this bad boy (or girl) going to take?
Well, it depends on how big your turkey is and how consistent you keep your temperature:
- Smoking a smaller 8-12 pound spatchcocked turkey will normally take between 2 – 2.5 hours.
- Smoking a medium sized 12-16 pound spatchcocked turkey takes between 2.5 – 3.5 hours.
- Smoking a large 16-20 pound spatchcocked turkey takes roughly 3.5 – 4.5 hours.
But, you shouldn’t base it on time. The best test for the doneness of the turkey is when your internal temperature reaches 165°F. To be extra prudent you can probe in three places: The innermost thigh, wing, and breast, but not touching the bone.
Tips For Smoking Spatchcocked Turkey
Spatchcocked turkey cooks a little differently than a full whole turkey. It not only cooks quicker, it cooks more consistently, and it’s easier to get that amazingly crispy skin too.
Still, there’s a few things you should adjust for the best result possible.
Here’s our top tips for smoking spatchcocked turkey.
Thaw Your Turkey In The Refrigerator
It’s essential that your turkey is completed thawed and brought up to room temperature before cooking it.
If you’ve bought a frozen turkey, leave it in the refrigerator for 48-72 hours to ensure its completely thawed!
This simply ensures an even and consistent cook!
Spatchcock It Properly
Spatchcocking a turkey isn’t rocket science, but it can seem a daunting task.
Ensure you’ve got yourself a good pair of poultry sheers, it makes things way way easier.
Flip your turkey over to expose it’s backbone. Take the sheers to each side of the backbone to remove it completely. Remove all the innards, neck, and tail too!
For a fully comprehensive but simply guide watch below:
No Need To Brine
Brining a full turkey can help with the moisture content and flavor of the bird.
But, it’s simply not needed if you’re spatchcocking your turkey. You CAN brine it if you want to, but it’s simply not needed.
Get That Moisture Off The Skin!
One of the most crucial and impactful steps you can do in the preparation of your spatchcocked turkey is to dry out the skin!
Take a paper towel and dab it on the skin all over, removing any excess moisture.
The only other moisture that should go on the skin is butter or oil as a binder, especially if you want crispy skin!
When you bite into the crispiest, most delicious turkey skin ever, you’ll be thanking me for reminding you to do this step!
The same process can applies to help prevent rubbery skin on smoked chicken too.
What Smoking Woods To Use For Spatchcocked Turkey?
Turkey is a rather delicate meat. Sure, it’s got a great, distinct flavor, but it can easily be overpowered by other dominant flavors.
For this reason, the best smoking woods for turkey tend to be those with a more mellow smoke, like maple, pecan, or apple.
Let It Rest
Be sure to let your spatchcocked turkey rest for 15-30 minutes after cooking it before starting to cut and serve it.
This just helps all the juices settle down and the meat to stop cooking.
Time To Feast
So, the ideal smoking temperature for spatchcocked turkey is around that 275°F sweet spot, for the entire cook!
In terms of how long it takes, well that depends on the size and weight of your turkey!
It generally takes between 2.5-4 hours, but the true test of doneness is when your spatchcocked turkey reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F all over.
You know the saying, once you go spatchcocked you never go back!
Happy feasting everybody!