Spatchcocked Herb Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

Southern Kitchen
Every home cook, especially those in a bit of a hurry, should learn the spatchcock technique.

About the recipe

Spatchcocking is the process of removing the backbone and opening the bird so that it is fairly flat and therefore cooks quicker and more evenly. It’s typically used with smaller birds such as chicken and Cornish hens, but it’s a great technique for turkey, too.

Spatchcocking is perfect for smaller birds under 14 pounds, and it is easiest to remove the backbone if you do so in the sink. The deeper, lower sink allows for greater arm extension. The bird is also contained and isn’t as likely to slip and slide. Once you season the bird and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet, it’s simply a matter of disinfecting the sink with hot soap and water.

By propping up the flattened bird on onions, no special rack or roasting pan is needed. With a rimmed baking sheet and a sturdy pair of scissors, you’re in business.

Serves: 10 to 12

Hands on Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


3 large onions, roughly chopped with skins reserved

12 sprigs fresh thyme

1 quart low-sodium homemade or store-bought chicken or turkey broth

1 whole (12- to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets reserved

Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 1/2 cups apple cider

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 fresh bay leaves

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scatter the onions and thyme sprigs across the bottom of the sheet pan.

In a large saucepan, combine the onion skins and broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat while you prepare the turkey.

To spatchcock the bird, place it in the sink, breast side down. Using poultry shears, cut lengthwise down both sides of the backbone from the neck to the tail. Remove the backbone and place it in the simmering stock along with the turkey neck that is usually inserted into the cavity of the bird. Continue to let the broth simmer.

Flip the bird over and press firmly with both hands to crack the breastbone and flatten the bird. Season the turkey liberally on all surfaces with salt and pepper and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Tuck the wing tips under the bottom of the bird and arrange the drumsticks so that they are not askew for the best presentation. Season the top of the turkey with paprika.

Roast, rotating occasionally until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 150 degrees and the thighs register 165 degrees, about 80 minutes.

When the turkey is about halfway done, start the gravy. Strain the broth, discarding the bones and onion skins.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is golden brown, about 3 minutes. While still whisking, add the strained broth in a thin, steady stream until it is all incorporated. Whisk in the apple cider and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to about 4 cups, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm.

Transfer the cooked turkey to a cutting board set over a second rimmed baking sheet to catch the juices; cover the bird with foil and let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the baking sheet, discarding any sprigs of thyme. Carefully pour any collected juices from out of the roasting pan through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup. Skim off excess fat and discard. Add the cooking juices and reserved roasted onions to the gravy. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

To carve the turkey, first separate the leg quarters from the main part of the carcass: locate the joint between the drumstick and the thigh; you should see white cartilage. Slice through this joint. (If you are on bone and having difficulty, your knife is in the wrong spot.) Serve the drumsticks whole and cut the dark meat from the thighs.

Remove the wings and cut at the joints into four pieces. Slice into the breast on one side of the breastbone with a sharp knife. Continue slicing, following the contour of the breastbone with the knife to remove as much meat as possible.

As you continue to work, the breast meat should begin to pull away from the bone and you will have one large breast. Repeat with the other side. Place the breast on the cutting board and slice the breast meat on the bias into slices no thicker than 1/2 inch. Transfer the sliced meat, drumsticks and wings to a warm serving platter. Serve immediately with gravy on the side.