Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we’ve got the perfect smoked turkey recipe to impress your family and friends!
First developed a few years ago for a demo I did at the Taste of Atlanta, this spatchcock (butterflied) turkey gets a boost of flavor from the sage butter and citrus-herb salt before hitting the smoker or grill for the perfect dose of smoke and flame.
Note that while spatchcocking the turkey means you won’t have that giant Norman Rockwell-esque bird to present to your guests, it does ensure that the dark and white meat are cooked to perfection as the heat from the smoker or grill is evenly dispersed across the entire surface of the bird. I have also found that the spatchcocked bird cooks much faster than a whole one, giving you more time to relax and enjoy the company of your guests!
Need more turkey tips for the holidays? Our downloadable eBook Turkey Outdoors Made Easy delivers 25 tested recipes, giving you everything you need to achieve amazing smoked or grilled turkey.
Serve with: Pumpkin ale.
Citrus and Herb Salt
- ¼ cup Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon lime zest
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Sage Compound Butter
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 12-14 pound turkey, thawed
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page
- Prep. Prepare the herb and citrus salt by combining the salt, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, lime zest, and garlic in a coffee/spice grinder or food processor and pulse until all of the ingredients are completely combined. Set the flavored salt aside until ready to use.
- For the compound butter, combine the butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and garlic in a small mixing bowl and blend well. Set aside until ready to use.
- To spatchcock the turkey, use poultry shears or heavy-duty kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone. Remove the backbone. Turn the turkey over and flatten it by pressing down on the breasts with your palms. You may hear the breast bone crack, which is fine.
- Gently work the sage compound butter under the skin of the turkey, massaging it with your fingers to spread it over the breasts and into the thighs and legs. Rub the outside of the turkey with the canola oil and season with the herb and citrus salt.
- Fire up. Prepare a smoker for indirect cooking. Alternatively, you can set up a charcoal grill for indirect cooking by placing a chimney full of pre-heated charcoal briquets on one side of the grill's charcoal grate in order to create direct and indirect cooking zones. Set a disposable aluminum half pan on the side opposite the charcoal and add approximately an inch of water to the pan. This will help catch the drippings so that they can be used later for gravy. Adjust the smoker or grill vents to bring the temperature to about 325°F (162.8°C) and add 2 to 3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal for flavor. Replace the main cooking grate. On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs so that one half of the grill is off and the other half is heated enough to maintain a temperature of approximately 325°F (162.8°C) on the indirect side. If possible, set an aluminum half pan under the main cooking grate on the cool side of the grill in order to catch drippings for gravy.
- Cook. Place the spatchcocked turkey skin side up on the indirect side of the grill, positioning it so that the legs are facing the heat source.
- Cover the grill and allow the spatchcocked turkey to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71.1°C), approximately 2 ½ hours (Note: Your cooking time will depend a lot on the outdoor air temp, the thickness of the breasts, and the unique characteristics of your grill or smoker. It is best to use a remote temperature probe such as the ThermoWorks Smoke so that you can monitor the internal temperature of the meat while preparing the rest of the meal and enjoying the company of your guests).
- Serve. Remove the turkey from the grill, carve, and serve immediately.
High quality websites are expensive to run. If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and a lot of freebies!
Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for high quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 2,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner to subsidize us.
Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club. But please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get MANY great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial, and help keep this site alive.
Post comments and questions below
1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.
2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.
3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.
4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.
5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.