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Traeger Smoked Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Traeger Smoked Spatchcock Turkey is a delicious and easy way to cook a turkey that is as juicy as it is tender. Cutting the bird in this way before you cook it ensures that the thighs and breasts cook evenly.

Traeger Smoked Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

I don’t consider myself an “expert” in many things. Part of that is just that I’m also a perfectionist, and to me being an “expert” means that you know all there is to know about that subject, and how can we ever, right?

I feel like an expert after I made this turkey.

Turkey dinner is my FAVORITE dinner, you guys. I’ve posted about this many times before, but let me remind you. We’ve done a traditional Traeger Grilled Turkey already too that you’ll love. I’m SUPER particular about turkey because I love it so much. We had a traditional turkey dinner for our wedding meal – in August. 

My whole family pitched in to cook it, and it was one of the most fabulous meals I’ve ever had. 

I don’t think my family wanted to make turkey again until I’d been married for 5 years or so, but they still love me so hopefully they recovered. 😀 

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I was always skeptical about the Spatchcock method because normal turkey roasting is SO good. Plus, the stuffing. I can’t miss out on the stuffing. But I was really interested in the additional juiciness in the turkey that all of the spatchcock fans shout from the rooftops. 

They were right.

Traeger Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

How to spatchcock a turkey

The process of spatchcocking isn’t super difficult, but it can be a little rough without the right tools. Namely, a killer pair of kitchen scissors. You’re going to be cutting through the rib cage on either side of the bird, along the sides of the backbone which is the piece you need to remove. 

Traeger Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

Step-by-Step Instructions to Spatchcock a Turkey

  1. Place the bird on a stable surface, with the breasts down and the legs towards you. You should be able to see and feel the backbone of the bird on top.
  2. With SHARP kitchen shears, start cutting up the side of the backbone, cutting through the ribs. This takes some muscle, and if you are squeamish about bone breaking noises you might want to tag in someone else because this gets a little intense. 
  3. Cut up the other side of the backbone, through the ribs, and remove the backbone. Save it for the stock pot though!
  4. Flip the turkey over and lay it flat. Using the heel of your hand, press down on the breastbone, hard, to flatten it out more. 
  5. That’s it! You are ready to season and grill!
Traeger Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

How to season a spatchcock turkey

Just because your bird is now face down, don’t neglect to season the underside! Brush the whole bird with oil or melted butter, and then go nuts with the herbs and seasoning.

For the turkey pictured here, I used a heavy hand with Traeger Chicken Rub, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and sage. You can use whatever seasoning mix/combination is your favorite. There are a lot of great combinations out there.

My advice is just to NOT SKIMP. You are seasoning a LOT of meat. It needs lots of flavor.

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Traeger Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

What should you serve with turkey?

I go traditional with my turkey and do regular Thanksgiving sides. My favorites are:

What can you do with leftover turkey?

Our favorites are the simple turkey sandwich on leftover rolls with a little salt and mayo, but if you are on day 2-3 of your turkey leftovers and want to get a little fancy, my Homemade Turkey Noodle Soup might just rival the main event of Thanksgiving dinner. Plus, you can use up not only the leftover turkey meat, but also use the carcass for the broth, and the gravy in the soup as well!

Scratch Turkey Noodle Soup

What are your favorites sides to make with turkey? Is there anything that you just CANNOT live with on your holiday table?

Yield: 1 turkey

Traeger Smoked Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Traeger Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey is the best turkey! Get used to evenly cooked, moist, juicy, and delicious meat – both white AND dark.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 1 whole turkey
  • 1/2 cup of oil or melted butter
  • 1/4 cup Traeger Chicken Rub
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon rubbed sage


  1. Preheat your Traeger to high, following factory directions. For most models this will be around 400°-450°F.
  2. Place the bird breast-side down with the legs pointing towards you, and cut up either side of the backbone through the ribs to remove the spine.
  3. Flip the turkey over, season well on both sides, and place skin-side up onto your pre-heated grill. You can also place it in a pan if you want to catch the drippings!
  4. Grill on high heat for 30 minutes, and then turn the temp down to 325 for the remaining 45 minutes.
  5. Check your turkey at around the 60 minute mark because it may be done already depending on the size of your bird! You want it to be at 165° no matter where you test it.
  6. Remove from the grill, let rest for 15-20 minutes, and then cut into pieces and serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 156Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 19mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g

Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate. If you are tracking these things for medical purposes please consult an outside, trusted source. Thanks!

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Nicole Johnson
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Nicole Johnson, a self-taught expert in grilling and outdoor cooking, launched Or Whatever You Do in 2010. Her blog, renowned for its comprehensive and creative outdoor cooking recipes, has garnered a vast audience of millions. Nicole's hands-on experience and passion for grilling shine through her work. Her husband, Jeremiah Johnson, also plays a pivotal role in recipe development, adding his culinary flair to the mix. Together, they form a dynamic duo, offering a rich and varied outdoor cooking experience to their followers.

Patrick D

Thursday 2nd of November 2023

Has anybody attempted to brine their turkey prior to spatchcocking and cooking on a pellet grill? If so, how did it come out?

Nicole Johnson

Thursday 2nd of November 2023

Yup! Brining a grocery-store turkey is pretty unnecessary. They are pre-brined. But we always brine farm turkeys and it really helps add moisture and flavor to the final result.

James Rustad

Monday 29th of May 2023

Cooking a big turkey? Kitchen shears won't cut it? Use a cleaver and a mallet. I've done it twice using a cheap cleaver and it is holding up fine so far. The cleaver cuts really well.

Big turkeys take longer to cook. My 22 pounder took over two and a half hours. As the author says, always cook turkey by temperature, not time.


Tuesday 13th of September 2022

Hi Nicole -

Just wondering what you are calling "high heat" on the Traeger?

Just the highest it will go on whatever model?


Thursday 15th of September 2022

@Nicole Johnson,

Thank you, Nicole!

Nicole Johnson

Tuesday 13th of September 2022

Yup! Most will get up to 400-450°. That's a perfect range to blast the heat on the bird initially. I'll update the recipe to reflect this too. Thanks for reading!

Kathy O

Wednesday 1st of December 2021

This recipe is awesome. Best Thanksgiving Turkey! Thank you!

Nicole Johnson

Wednesday 1st of December 2021

So glad to hear it! Happy holidays!

Tom Olsen

Wednesday 25th of December 2019

Now it's a bigger trick to get the breast up to temp to match the legs. I went about 10 degrees over on the legs, 10 under on the breast and let it even out while it rested. The breast was super moist and not a hint of under cooked. Everyone loved it. Merry Christmas.


Thursday 26th of November 2020

Try a foil ball under the legs and wrap the bones of the thighs with foil. The bone won’t heat as fast.

Nicole Johnson

Wednesday 25th of December 2019

You can foil the legs once they start getting close to temp to try and shield them a bit, but I find legs much more forgiving from a few extra degrees than breasts, in my experience.

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