Spatchcock Smoked Turkey With Pan Stuffing

Classic roast turkey flavor cooked on the smoker to free up your kitchen.
spatchcock turkey

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Is there anything that smells more like holidays than roasted turkey? I don’t think so.

This recipe uses a smoker, but we are going for more of a traditional roast turkey flavor so we won’t be using any bbq rubs.

I’ll also show you how to make a next level stuffing in the smoker that will be a hit with any meal.

Selecting the right turkey for smoking

When it comes to turkey, everyone automatically scrambles to get the largest bird they can cram into their oven or smoker.

This is a mistake. A smaller turkey tends to have a better flavor and the end product will be far juicier.

If you need more meat, then just cook two smaller birds. It is a win-win, double up on everything, four drumsticks, four wings, and all of that extra white breast meat.

uncooked turkey on a metal tray
That’s a Weber figurine, not a giant turkey

Look for anything between the 10-pound and 14-pound mark. Having a family of six, we have plenty to feed us on a 10-pound bird and there is always plenty for leftovers.

For more tips check out our guide on how to pick the best turkey.

Items that will help with this cook are:

You can watch the full video of this recipe, or keep reading for written instructions and ingredients.

Prepping the turkey

To spatchcock a turkey, you will need to lay the bird breast side down and find the backbone. Now using some strong kitchen shears, you need to cut along both sides of the spine. This can be a tough task on a turkey sometimes you’ll need to use both hands but trust me, it is worth the effort.

uncooked turkey with backbone removed
Use kitchen shears to remove the backbone

Once you have the spine removed, I personally keep it for later to make stock. So put it into a zip lock bag, write the date and what it is on the bag and freeze it.

Now flip the bird over, exposing the breast. You should be able to see the wishbone.

Using a boning knife, carefully cut along both sides of this bone until it comes free. This is going to make carving the cooked bird a lot easier at the end.

Next placing your hand on the middle of the breast, press down with some force to flatten the bird.

uncooked spatchcock turkey on a metal tray
Cut out the wishbone and press down the turkey to flatten it

By making it flatter, we can accomplish an even cook. If you are using a rub you can also coat more surface area.

Unfortunately, turkeys were made in the shape of footballs and they rarely cook evenly. Especially when the white breast meat cooks quicker than the darker thigh meat. 

Dry brine the turkey for maximum moistness

These days I usually don’t bother wet brining turkey. It takes up a huge amount of space in the fridge for days, and there’s plenty of evidence that most the ingredients are wasted as they don’t really penetrate the turkey at all.

When dry brining a turkey, there are a couple of rules to guide you. They are that you need to allow at least one hour per pound of meat and that you use ½ a teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat.

uncooked turkey spatchcocked on a tray inner side up and sprinkled with salt
Sprinkle some salt on the inner part of the turkey

Start by placing the bird on a wire rack in a pan, then evenly sprinkling the inner of the bird with half of the salt. Then turn it over and apply the rest of the salt to the outer skin, moving the wings and legs around to ensure you get some salt everywhere.

uncooked spatchcock turkey sprinkled with salt
Make sure you evenly apply the salt all around the wings and the legs

Now it’s as easy as putting into a fridge uncovered, remembering the how long rule, one hour per pound. For this recipe I pushed my 10 pound turkey to a 48 hour dry brine and the results were incredible.

Getting your smoker or grill ready

For turkey (and most poultry) I like to smoke a little hotter than usual.

To set up my Weber Smokey Mountain for high indirect heat, I’ll be using lump charcoal over briquettes, as it tends to burn a lot hotter.

chimney started with lump charcoal
Start by lighting a full chimney starter of lump charcoal

To start, I’ll light up a full chimney starter of lump charcoal. Once this is fully lit and has white ash all over it I’ll place this on top of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the Weber Smokey Mountain.

weber smokey mountain with lit charcoal
Place fully lit charcoal on top of unlit charcoal in the bottom of a smoker

I’ll then assemble the smoker and place an ambient temp probe on the cooking grill to monitor the temp and open all of the vents. I’ll start adjusting the vents when the smoker heats up and is nearing my target temperature of 450°F.

Once my target temp has been reached, I’ll get the turkey out of the fridge and give a light coating of oil.

Then I’ll put the turkey on the cooking rack leaving it in the wire rack and pan it has been in the fridge for the past two days. This will just make it easier to move and will capture any juices that fall.

uncooked turkey coated with oil
Remove turkey from the fridge and give it a light coat of oil

I’ll place two internal meat probes into the bird, one on the breast and one in the thigh, making sure not to touch any bones with the probes, as this will give an inaccurate reading.

I’ll usually check the bird at the one hour mark and give the skin a baste with some melted unsalted butter.

smoked turkey with two internal meat probes
Place two meat probes into the bird ensuring they do not touch any bones

We are aiming for the breast to be done at 165°F and the thigh meat at 180°F. This is higher than normal safe eating levels but because we have dry brined the turkey, it is packed full of juice and it can handle the extra heat.

By pushing the dark meat a bit further, it helps the connective tissues break down and we will end up with more tender meat, similar in texture to pulled meat.

smoked spatchcock turkey
Remove the cooked turkey from the smoker and let it rest for about 15 minutes

Once the turkey is cooked, remove it from the smoker and place it on a chopping board to rest for 15 minutes. Do not cover it with foil, the last thing you want is to ruin that crispy skin you just spent two days creating.

By resting it under foil it would just steam and become soggy, so don’t do it.

Stuffing that everyone will ask for the recipe

This smoked sausage pan stuffing recipe is a crowd favourite at my place over the holidays, I’m sure it will become one of yours as well.

By sptachcocking the turkey, you obviously can’t make stuffing the traditional way. The good news is, making stuffing in a separate pan is loads better anyway.

To get the ball rolling on this recipe, slice a whole loaf of bread into cubes. Each slice should be cut into sixteen pieces, roughly three-quarters of an inch thick.

Now lay the diced up bread on a baking tray and smoke for around an hour until the bread is crispy, just like toast or croutons.

diced bread loaf on a tray on a smoker
Lay diced bread on a tray and smoke until the bread is crispy like croutons

Next you want to fry the country pork sausage over medium heat, breaking it all up. When it is all browned and a little crispy, set it aside in a bowl.

Leave the fond, or the little crispy bits of sausage and pour some grease back into the pan.

country pork sausage frying in a pan
Fry country pork sausage over medium heat

Into the pan we are going to add some root vegetables, you can use any that are in season but I use carrots and leeks for this one. Just make sure any vegetables that can have dirt in between their leaves get a good rinsing under water before using.

Fry up the vegetables until they soften up.

fried carrots and leeks in a pan
Fry some seasonal root vegetables until they soften up

Now it’s time to add some diced garlic, allow that to cook for a minute or two before adding any aromatic herbs you want to put in. I tend to stick to the old faithfuls like rosemary, sage and thyme but you can mix that up if you desire.

fried carrots, leeks and herbs in a pan
Add some diced garlic along with favorite herbs

Give these herbs a couple of minutes to work their magic and then you can add a splash of white wine into the mix. Cook off the alcohol for a minute or two. 

Now combine the diced bread, sausage and vegetables and herbs into a large bowl.

stuffing ingredients in a bowl
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and slowly pour in some stock

Slowly pouring in some stock. I used turkey stock but you could use chicken or vegetable if you don’t have any. I generally find I’ll use about a quart of stock but it does vary from each cook. Hence why you should introduce the stock slowly and keep mixing.

You want all of the bread to have plenty of moisture but to still hold its shape.

Once the consistency is right, have a taste, if it is needed give it a pinch of salt. 

Next, we need to beat two eggs and add them and stir thoroughly, they will help hold the mix together. 

uncooked stuffing in a pan
Add two beaten eggs, transfer stuffing into a greased pan and put on a smoker

Now transfer to a greased up pan and put on the smoker with the turkey once the turkey breast internal temperature is at 135°F.

Serving suggestions

The big question here is white or dark meat. The good thing is by pushing the temps as far as we did, the dark meat will fall apart and the legs and wings will come away from the bird’s body so easily, the breast meat will be so easy to get large slices from, as we removed the wishbone.

If you want picture perfect presentation check out our guide on how to carve a turkey, or just pull off the legs and wings and then slice the breast.

carved smoked spatchcock turkey on a wooden board
High internal temperature and removed wishbone will make carving easy
smoked turkey and stuffing on a table
Serve smoked turkey with the stuffing, roasted vegetables and some homemade gravy

Add to this a generous helping of the stuffing, some roasted and steamed vegetables and a homemade gravy to top it all off.

spatchcock turkey

Spatchcock Turkey With Pan Stuffing

Dry-brined spatchcock turkey, smoked over charcoal and served with delicious sausage and herb pan stuffing.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 785kcal
Author: Dean “Schuey” Schumann

Ingredients

Turkey

  • 10 lbs turkey
  • 5 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Pan Stuffing

  • 2 lbs bread
  • 1 lbs country pork sausage casings removed
  • 1 cup leeks diced
  • 1 cup carrots diced
  • 2 tbsp garlic finely diced
  • 1 tbsp rosemary finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sage finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp white wine
  • 1 quart turkey stock
  • 1 egg
  • salt to taste

Instructions

For the turkey

  • To spatchcock a turkey, you will need to lay the bird breast side down and find the backbone.
  • Using some strong kitchen shears and both hands, cut along both sides of the spine.
  • Once you have the spine removed, keep it for a later use of making stock. Put it into a zip lock bag, write the date and what it is on the bag and freeze it.
  • Flip the bird over, exposing the breast. You should be able to see the wishbone. Using a boning knife carefully cut along both sides of this bone until it comes free.
  • Place your hand on the middle of the breast, press down with some force to flatten the bird.
  • Place the bird on a wire rack in a pan, then evenly sprinkling the inner of the bird with half of the salt. Then turn it over and apply the rest of the salt to the outer skin, moving the wings and legs around to ensure you get some salt everywhere.
  • Put the turkey into a fridge uncovered, remembering the how long rule, one hour per pound. For this recipe I pushed my 10 pound turkey to a 48 hour dry brine and the results were incredible.
  • Light up a full chimney starter of lump charcoal. Once this is fully lit, you can tell as it will have this white ash all over it, place this on top of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the Weber Smokey Mountain.
  • Assemble the smoker and place an ambient temp probe on the cooking grill to monitor the temp and open all of the vents. Start adjusting the vents when the smoker heats up and is nearing the target temperature of 450°F.
  • Once the target temp has been reached, get the turkey out of the fridge and give a light coating of oil. Then put the turkey on the cooking rack leaving it in the wire rack and pan it has been in the fridge for the past two days.
  • Place two internal meat probes into the bird, one on the breast and one in the thigh, making sure not to touch any bones with the probes, as this will give an inaccurate reading.
  • Check the bird at the one hour mark and give the skin a baste with some melted unsalted butter.
  • We are aiming for the breast to be done at 165°F and the thigh meat at 180°F.
  • Once the turkey is cooked, remove it from the smoker and place it on a chopping board to rest for 15 minutes.

For the pan stuffing

  • Slice up a whole loaf of bread into cubes. Each slice should be cut into sixteen pieces, roughly three-quarters of an inch thick. Lay the diced up bread on a baking tray and smoke for around an hour until the bread is crispy, just like toast or croutons.
  • Fry the country pork sausage in a frypan over a medium heat, breaking it all up. When it is all browned and a little crispy, set it aside in a bowl. Leave in the fond, or the little crispy bits of sausage and pour some grease back into the pan.
  • Add some root vegetables into the pan. Use any that are in season but I use carrots and leeks for this one. Fry up the vegetables until they soften up.
  • Add some diced garlic, allow that to cook for a minute or two before adding any aromatic herbs you want to put in. I tend to stick to the old faithfuls like rosemary, sage and thyme but you can mix that up if you desire.
  • Give the herbs a couple of minutes to work their magic and then you can add a splash of white wine into the mix. Cook off the alcohol for a minute or two.
  • Combine the diced bread, sausage, vegetables and herbs into a large bowl.
  • Slowly pour in some stock. I used turkey stock but you could use chicken or vegetable if you don’t have any. I generally find I’ll use about a quart of stock but it does vary from each cook. Hence why you should introduce the stock slowly and keep mixing. You want all of the bread to have plenty of moisture but to still hold its shape.
  • Once the consistency is right, have a taste, if it is needed give it a pinch of salt.
  • Beat two eggs and add them and stir thoroughly, they will help hold the mix together.
  • Transfer the stuffing to a greased up pan and put on the smoker with the turkey once the turkey breast internal temperature is at 135°F for around an hour.

To serve

  • Carve the turkey and serve with stuffing, some roasted and steamed vegetables, as well as homemade gravy to top it all off.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 785kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 74g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 241mg | Sodium: 2030mg | Potassium: 985mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2199IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 161mg | Iron: 6mg

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