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Spatchcock Turkey on the Traeger

November 11, 2022

Spatchcock Turkey on the Traeger

Traditionally cooked turkeys are wonderful, but sometimes you want to take things up a notch. My Spatchcock Turkey is the perfect way to do that. This turkey is laid flat, so every bit of skin gets golden brown. Where some methods of turkey leave you with dry, dusty meat, spatchcocking a bird gives you juicy meat every time. 

Don’t be fooled; spatchcocking a bird removes its backbone and some extra skin. It’s easy as pie, and your return on investment is high. This fabulous recipe for the holidays gives friends and family something new to look forward to. 

This turkey features a heavenly blend of spices. I injected the bird with my decadent Chicken Injection & Brine, then seasoned it with Heath Riles BBQ Everyday Rub and  Heath Riles BBQ Chicken Rub. These ingredients elevated a typical turkey and gave it a BBQ flair. This flavorful turkey can stand on its own with no fuss needed. 

The Ingredients

This cook uses simple elements to create one delicious bird. You won’t use all of my injection and rubs, so save the remainder for another time. Here’s what you need to add to your shopping list. 

  • Turkey. It may surprise you to learn that spatchcocking a bird is something you do yourself, which means you start with a whole turkey. My turkey was 14-16 lbs, but you can choose any size. Remember that your cooking time may vary from mine based on the bird’s weight. Be sure to thaw your bird beforehand. 
  • Heath Riles BBQ Chicken Injection & Brine. My famous injection can also be used as a brine; it’s that versatile. I created this blend to complement chicken with hints of butter and garlic. It makes poultry taste amazing. Try it on any bird of your liking, and let me know what you think. 
  • Heath Riles BBQ Everyday Rub. This ingredient is exactly what it sounds like; a rub you can use for your everyday favorites. French fries, veggies, burgers, and turkeys are all made better with this all-purpose blend.
  • Heath Riles BBQ Chicken Rub. My Chicken Rub is excellent on any bird, making it shine without overwhelming what’s already there. This blend gives poultry a beautiful golden color that makes it appear magazine-worthy. 
  • Mayonnaise. I usually enjoy using mustard as my binder, but this turkey needed something milder. Mayonnaise is a great binder when you don’t want to add extra flavor, just something to help the spices stick. I use full-fat mayonnaise for the best results. 
  • The Smoker Setup

    Here’s the main equipment I used for this cook. You can find more of my BBQ must-haves in the equipment and tools section. 

    • Pellet grill/smoker. I used my Traeger Ironwood 885 to cook this turkey. This is a newfangled pit that comes with a lot of extras. The super smoke button, pellet sensor, and app make this grill worth every penny. 
    • Pellets. I stoked my Traeger with Royal Oak Charcoal. I love these hardwood pellets because they are pure without any fillers. You get a good, clean smoke that tastes authentic. 

    The Process for Making Spatchcock Turkey

    You can find a detailed demonstration of this cook in the recipe card and video section at the bottom of the post. Here’s a brief overview of how I pulled this Thanksgiving turkey together. 

  • Fire up the grill. I stoked the Traeger with Royal Oak Charcoal Pellets and fired it up to 350℉. 
  • Prep and trim. While the grill got to temperature, I prepped my turkey. I removed it from the packaging and dug out the bag of giblets. Then, I trimmed any extra skin around the cavity of the bird. 
  • Spatchcock the bird. I placed the turkey breast side down and used my shears to mark off each side of the backbone. I cut out the backbone keeping my lines even so the bird would lay flat. Once I removed the backbone, I trimmed more excess skin to keep things looking even. To finish the spatchcocking, I took my knife and split the breast bone, so the bird was wide open. 
  • Clean and inject. I cleaned the inside of the bird, removing bits of fatty tissue. Then, I tucked the wing tips up and started injecting. I mixed ¼ cup of Chicken Injection & Brine with 16 ounces of water until smooth. I injected the turkey breast, thighs, and legs with this mixture until the bird was plump. 
  • Bind and season. I patted the bird dry and set it on my cooling rack. Then, I slathered the turkey with a layer of mayonnaise, starting with the backside. I laid down a good layer of Everyday Rub, followed by a dusting of Chicken Rub. I flipped the bird over and repeated the process until I covered the entire bird. 
  • Smoke the turkey. I let the turkey sweat in for 15 minutes before putting it on the grill. I set the bird on the pit and smoked it for 1 ½ hours before spraying it with butter. I cooked the turkey for 3 hours to reach an internal temperature of 160℉. 
  • The Results

    The turkey came off the pit perfectly golden with crisp, luscious skin. The inside of the bird was moist, juicy, and one of the best I’ve ever had. I know you’ll love it just as much! 

    Serving Suggestions for Spatchcock Turkey

    Round out your Thanksgiving feast with one of these unique side dishes. 

  • Smoked Pecan Pie. This pecan pie is the perfect way to end your meal. It’s rich, gooey, and perfect with a scoop of ice cream. 
  • Maple Butter Carrots and Green Bean Casserole. You can find both recipes in my Thanksgiving on the Traeger post. Maple Butter Carrots are a beautiful addition to any meal, while Green Bean Casserole is a Turkey day must. 
  • Storing Leftover Turkey

    If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze them for 6 months. 

    Equipment and Tools

    Pellet grill, charcoal pellets, paper towels, cutting board, cooling rack, instant-read meat thermometer, and insulated gloves for handling meat

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