Guide to Smoke Spatchcock Turkey

carving smoked turkey
Spatchcocking a turkey opens up the body to lay it flat allowing for even smoke penetration and a faster smoke time. A 10lb, dry-rubbed, spatchcocked turkey should be smoked over indirect heat for two to three hours until the turkey reaches 165°F.

Spatchcocking turkey involves removing the spine from the turkey and cooking it flat. This exposes the whole turkey to more heat and significantly reduces the cooking time.

White and dark meat benefits from the even heat distribution and smoke. In just a few hours, you can enjoy turkey breasts and legs with unforgettable flavor. This step-by-step guide is all you need to make the perfect smoked turkey.

Step-By-Step Guide to Smoke Spatchcock Turkey

Step 1: Spatchcock the Turkey

It’s not tricky to spatchcock a turkey provided you have a sharp chef’s knife or kitchen shears.

Set a cutting board on a wet paper towel to ensure it doesn’t slide around. You don’t have to wash the turkey. Washing the turkey with cold water spreads bacteria in the kitchen and can contaminate utensils and other foods.

If the cavity of the turkey has giblets, discard them. 

Place the meat on the cutting board and pat it dry using paper towels. This will give you the crispy skin you desire as it cooks. 

After patting the bird dry, place it on the cutting board with the breast side up, and the legs and cavity facing you.

If the turkey has a lot of excess fat or skin, trim them off so there is just an inch remaining fat.

Turn the turkey over with the cavity pointing at you, so it rests on the breast. Use your fingers to locate the backbone of the turkey. Using kitchen shears, cut through the spine to fully remove the spine from the turkey. Discard the spine or set it aside for another purpose, like making turkey broth.

Turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up. With the legs wide apart, press firmly on the breasts to crack the breastbone and ensure the turkey lays flat. Tuck the wing under the bird’s breast, and set the thighs toward the rest of the bird’s body.

Step 2: Season the Bird

Combine your desired seasoning ingredients in a small bowl to make a spice rub. Generously season the bird, rubbing evenly all around the bird and inside the cavity, as well. 

Place the turkey breast side up on a baking sheet, cover it, and place it in your refrigerator. Let it sit uncovered for up to 24 hours.

Step 3: Set Up the Smoker or Pellet Grill 

Remove the bird from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for one hour before cooking it. 

Prep the Traeger smoker or your barbecue grill for indirect cooking. Preheat the grill to 275°F and fill up the smoke box using fruitwood chucks like apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite, or pecan. 

Step 4: Smoke the Turkey

Place the bird on the grates with the turkey breast side up. Cook over indirect heat by arranging the wings and legs to ensure the bird lays flat on the smoker. 

Sprinkle with additional BBQ dry rub as desired.

Smoke the bird for approximately 1½ hours, adding more charcoal or wood chips as needed. 

Once the turkey gets the bark color you like, stop adding charcoal, but continue to check the heat to ensure the meat is properly cooked. 

Step 5: Take the Internal Temperature

Your turkey will be done once the thickest part in the breast reaches 165 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.

Step 6: Rest and Serve

Once the turkey reaches a safe internal temperature, take it off the heat and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. 

Now you can carve it and serve it warm with your favorite side dishes!

Can’t wait to try making spatchcock smoked turkey? Be sure to try this smoked spatchcock turkey recipe below for the best turkey you’ve ever had.

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smoked spatchcock turkey

Smoked Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

  • Author: Patrick
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes


A spatchcocked turkey is popular because it cooks evenly and more quickly. This perfectly cooked turkey is sure to impress your friends and family.


Units Scale

Equipment Needed

  • Baking sheet
  • Instant-read thermometer or meat thermometer
  • Kitchen shears
  • Sharp knives
  • Smoker or pellet grill
  • Wood chucks or wood chips (hickory, mesquite, or pecan)

Ingredient List

  • 15pound turkey
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Locate any parts you need to remove from the turkey, including the gizzard and neck parts
  2. Use kitchen shears to carve the left side of the turkey’s backbone. Repeat this for the right side of the backbone.
  3. Flatten your turkey. Press on the turkey to crack the breastbone so the bird lays flat.
  4. Season your turkey by mixing all the dry rub ingredients together in a mixing bowl and liberally covering the surface of the turkey. Let it sit at room temperature as you prepare your smoker.
  5. Preheat the Traeger smoker or pellet grill to 275°F. Place a drip pan beneath the grill grates to collect turkey drippings.
  6. Place the bird on the grill grates and allow the bird to smoke. Baste occasionally with any collected drippings. Continue to cook until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the turkey reads 165 degrees F.
  7. Rotate the turkey once during the cook time for even cooking. The turkey is done once a meat thermometer reads 165°F when placed in the thickest part of the meat.
  8. After smoking the turkey, remove it from the heat and let it rest, covered in aluminum foil for around 10 minutes. Resting helps to ensure the meat is juicy and succulent. The rest period allows the juices in the meat to reabsorb, making for a more succulent bird.
  9. Carve and serve the turkey as a delicious centerpiece of your feast with your favorite side dishes like dinner rolls or sweet potato casserole!


You can store your leftover turkey in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or keep them in the freezer to eat later.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours


  • Serving Size: 6 ounces
  • Calories: 192
  • Sodium: 2040mg
  • Fat: 5.1g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.2g
  • Protein: 23.1g
  • Cholesterol: 93mg

How Long Does it Take to Smoke Spatchcock Turkey?

When smoking at 275°F, spatchcock turkey cooks at 11 to 13 minutes per pound (compared to 15 mins per pound for smoking a whole turkey).

That means it takes about 2½ hours to smoke a ten-pound spatchcock turkey. However, it may take more or less time to smoke spatchcock turkey, depending on its size. Keep in mind some turkeys can weigh more than 20 pounds.

You should smoke the turkey until an instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part reads 165°F. As with all meats, rest your bird for at least 10 minutes before serving it. 

What is the Best Temperature to Smoke Spatchcock Turkey?

The best temperature to smoke spatchcock turkey is 275°F. This is the ideal temperature to smoke the bird while allowing it to absorb enough smoke flavor. 

Is it Better to Smoke a Turkey Whole or Spatchcock?

A spatchcocked turkey cooks more quickly and more evenly than a whole turkey, so it is better to smoke a spatchcocked turkey.

Does a Spatchcock Turkey Smoke Faster?

There are many reasons why the spatchcock method is popular for smoking a turkey for holiday dinners. This method enables you to cook the turkey a bit faster than cooking a whole turkey.

Additionally, smoked spatchcock turkey allows for more evening cooking.

Do you need to Brine a Spatchcock Turkey Before Smoking?

No. Although brining a spatchcocked turkey adds flavor, you don’t need to brine it. Wet brining can take about 8 to 24 hours and skipping this process can save you a lot of time. 

Holidays are complicated enough, and your smoked spatchcock turkey will be flavorful on its own and will impress your guests with its juiciness. 

However, you can still brine your spatchcock turkey if you desire. A simple turkey brine can allow your turkey to be extra flavorful without using too many ingredients!

Is it Better to Spatchcock a Turkey Before or After it is Smoked?

If you want to reduce the time required for smoking, spatchcock your turkey 24 hours before smoking. A spatchcocked turkey is flattened in a process called butterflying, so it cooks faster and more evenly. 

Spatchcocking is a fantastic way to smoke a turkey if you want to make sure your turkey is uniformly cooked or if you’re pressed for time.

When smoked properly, your spatchcock turkey will be juicy and moist, with crispy, uniformly browned skin. 


At heart, Patrick is a passionate cook, adventurous eater, recipe writer, and bargain hunter. He aims to provide creative ideas on how to how to cook amazing food with everyday ingredients in a hassle-free manner.When not writing or standing over a grill, Patrick enjoys traveling and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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