Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Butterflying the turkey exposes more skin to improve browning and creates more channels for rendering fat. This creates extra crisp skin.
  • A low profile means the turkey cooks through in under 90 minutes.
  • The legs lay flatter than the breasts, helping them to reach a higher final temperature without overcooking the breast meat.

So you've seen our spatchco*ck turkey and you're intrigued by the promise of extra-crisp skin and ultra-moist meat, all in about 90 minutes...but there's just one thing that bugs you: You're the kind of person who likes to put decals on their car or glitter on their greeting cards. In other words, plain old salt and pepper just ain't gonna cut it for ya.

I hear you. Despite the simplicity and turkey-forward flavor of a roast with nothing but a little salt and pepper, I, too, occasionally crave something with a little more excitement. Every once in a while, I just have to reach for that packet of pink Japanese bath salts instead of the box of Mr. Bubble, if you know what I mean.

Well, here's the recipe for you. It's got all of the same crisp skin and juicy meat as the original recipe, but with a flavor-packed herb butter to coat it.

Step 1: Butterfly

To begin, start with a natural turkey that weighs between 10 and 15 pounds. I find 12 pounds to be just about the sweet spot. Next, either ask your butcher to remove the backbone (make sure he gives it to you for your gravy!), or follow the step-by-step instructions here to do it yourself.

Step 2: The Herbs

Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe (1)

Though we're calling this an herb butter, in reality it's equal parts herbs and equal parts alliums. I use a mix of parsley, sage, and thyme (rosemary proved too overpowering every time), along with shallots, garlic, and chives, all pulsed in the food processor until chopped.

In goes a stick of butter. Remember, Thanksgiving is the time for giving thanks and being with family. Not for counting calories.

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Season with salt and pepper, then blend it all up into a nice, even paste, like this.

Step 3: Skin the Bird!

Now we could melt this herb butter and just paint it all over the surface, and believe me, we'll be doing that in a bit. But why stop there? We're going to put the herb butter under the skin as well.

To do that, you first have to separate the skin from the flesh underneath. Enter the space under the breast from the bottom of the bird. Don't be shy here, this turkey has seen a few things in its time, and it's anything but coy.

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The turkey will need to have its legs serviced as well, so make sure you get way in there, lifting the skin from the thighs.

Step 4: Butter Up!

Pick up the herb butter in big clumps with your hands then insert those clumps all around the turkey under the skin. You should end up using about half of the herb butter under the skin.

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Once the big clumps are in place, massage them from the outside until they form a relatively even layer of butter and herbs.

Step 5: Paint It On

Melt the remaining herb butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave, then paint it onto the bird using a pastry brush. I like to use a silicone pastry brush because it lasts forever, is heatproof, and doesn't shed hairs onto your turkey the way a standard pastry brush can.

Your turkey is now primed, pumped, pre-gamed, and ready to party. And the party is gonna be HOT.

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Step 6: Roast!

How hot, you ask? Oh, about 450°F (230°C) hot. Into the oven the turkey goes. We're aiming for skin that's deep brown all over and irresistibly crisp and crunchy, and it all takes place in under 90 minutes. I mean it. If you're able to resist taking a grab at a little corner of skin as you take the turkey out of the oven, then you are stronger than I am.

When all is said and done, your legs should register no lower than 165°F (74°C) on an instant-read thermometer, while your breast meat should register between 145 and 150°F (63°C - 66°C) for optimal juiciness.

Now is the time to break out that fancy-pants instant-read thermometer your dearest loved one got you for your birthday last year. (They did get it for you, didn't they?)

Step 7: Rest and Carve

Once the turkey has had a chance to rest (this helps keep it nice and juicy), it's ready to be carved. Just follow this video.

Incredibly crisp skin, juicy meat, and a blazing-fast cook time all come together in one recipe. It's why I recommend it year after year and why it's what's going to be on my table for all the foreseeable Thanksgivings to come.

November 2014

Recipe Details

Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey

Prep15 mins

Cook80 mins

Active35 mins

Resting Time20 mins

Total115 mins

Serves10to 12 servings


  • 4 medium cloves garlic

  • 1/4 cup roughly choppedchives

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsleyleaves

  • 1/4 cup freshsage leaves

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thymeleaves

  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced

  • 1 stick butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 whole turkey (10 - 15 pounds total), butterflied and brined (reserve backbone and neck if making stock for gravy, see note)

  • Gravy, for serving


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan with aluminum foil. Place slotted broiler rack or wire rack on top.

  2. Combine garlic, chives, parsley, sage, thyme, and shallots in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse, scraping down sides as necessary, until finely chopped and no large pieces remain. Scatter butter chunks on top. Pulse until hom*ogeneous paste is formed. Season generously with salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Transfer half of butter mixture to a small saucepan and melt over low heat.

    Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe (7)

  3. Gently separate the skin of the turkey from the flesh using your hands, going in through the bottom of the breast and working up along both breast halves and the thighs. Using your hands, rub butter directly on the turkey meat underneath the skin all over. Massage the skin from the outside until the butter is distributed in an even layer.

    Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe (8)

  4. Brush exterior of the turkey with the melted butter until evenly coated. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and transfer to the wire rack.

    Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe (9)

  5. Transfer turkey to oven and roast, rotating occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 150°F (66°C), and the thighs register at least 165°F (74°C), about 80 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving. Serve immediately.

    Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe (10)

    Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe (11)

Special Equipment

Half-sheet pan and wire rack, instant-read thermometer, food processor


For best results, dry-brine your turkey. If dry-brining, omit any additional salt in herb butter. The neck and backbone of the turkey can be used to fortify stock used to make gravy. Chop them into rough chunks with a cleaver, brown in oil in a medium saucepan along with chopped onions, carrot, celery, and bay leaf, then cover with homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock. Simmer for one hour before straining and using to make gravy. We have full step-by-step instructions for how to spatchco*ck your turkey.

Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe (2024)


How long does it take to cook a butterfly turkey? ›

Roast the Joint in a deep tray and cover with foil. Place in the centre of the oven and cook at 180°C, Gas Mark 4 for approx 20 minutes per kg plus 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes to allow the skin to crisp up.

What is the trick to crispy skin on turkey? ›

That trick is a sprinkling of baking powder, and it'll get you the crispiest, crackliest bites of fatty, salty skin imaginable, whether you're cooking just one thigh, a plate of wings, or an entire bird.

How long does it take to cook a spatchco*cked turkey? ›

A spatchco*cked whole turkey will cook more quickly than a standard turkey. While the spatchco*ck turkey cooking time will depend on the size and oven temperature, 6 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb. Depending on the size of the turkey, cook times are estimated between 60-90 minutes.

Is it better to rub turkey with butter or oil? ›

Rub the skin with fat

Fat is going to help the skin get brown and crisp, and contrary to what most might think, butter isn't better. Butter does an okay job, but because it contains a lot of water, oil is a better fat to rub on the skin to ensure it gets extra crispy.

How do you prepare a butterfly turkey? ›

Coat the turkey all over with the butter and season generously. Place in top of the Vegetables and cover with foil. Roast for approximately 20 minutes per 500g plus and extra 20 mins. Baste twice during the cooking process removing the foil for the last 25-30 minutes.

How do you keep a turkey butterfly moist? ›

Creating a bacon lattice on top of your turkey will help keep it moist too. Or, you can also try cooking your bird breast-side down and cover it with a large sheet of foil, making sure it's secured over the rim of the roasting tin.

Is butter or oil better for crispy turkey skin? ›

Once you've carefully dried off the skin, the next step you can take to guarantee perfectly crispy turkey skin is to rub it with a fat, like butter or oil. Oil will yield a crispier skin than butter because butter is at least 20 percent water, while oil contains no water.

Should you bake a turkey covered or uncovered? ›

To achieve a perfectly golden, juicy turkey, let the bird spend time both covered and uncovered in the oven. We recommend covering your bird for most of the cooking time to prevent it from drying out; then, during the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, remove the cover so the skin crisps in the hot oven.

What is the downside of Spatchco*ck? ›

The most common complaint about spatchco*cking is that it “just doesn't look right”.

How many minutes per pound for a spatchco*ck turkey? ›

Perhaps most importantly, the turkey will cook in significantly less time than non-spatchco*cked—figure about 6 minutes per pound if following this recipe, or until thigh meat registers 165°.

Do you put water in the bottom of the roasting pan for turkey? ›

Place roast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan. Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in center of breast roast reaches 170° F and in center of turkey roast reaches 175° F.

Should I brush turkey with olive oil or butter? ›

Generously season the turkey cavity with salt and pepper, to taste. Brush the turkey with olive oil, and rub it with the seasoning mixture. Tie the legs together loosely to hold their shape, and tuck the wing tips under.

Do I rub oil on turkey before cooking? ›

Basting also gives you a less crisp skin. Instead of basting, rub fat (butter, olive oil or coconut oil, for example) all over the bird just before you tuck it into the oven. Then leave it alone until it's time to check for doneness.

Does a butterfly turkey cook faster? ›

Spatchco*cking turkey cooks more evenly and more quickly than non-butterflied versions, for stunningly crisp skin and perfectly cooked white and dark meat. Kenji is the former culinary director for Serious Eats and a current culinary consultant for the site.

What temp should a turkey butterfly be when cooked? ›

To check your turkey is perfectly cooked, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the bird and hold for 30 seconds, it should be at least 75°C. Alternatively insert a skewer into the thickest part of the leg; if the juices do not run clear return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, then test again.

What is the difference between a turkey crown and a turkey butterfly? ›

What is the difference between a turkey butterfly and a turkey crown? A turkey butterfly is completely boneless, while a turkey crown still contains the bone. A turkey crown and turkey butterfly are otherwise the same cut of meat - the two breast sections of the turkey with legs and wings removed.

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