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Tips & Tricks to Butterfly a Turkey

When it comes to Thanksgiving, there’s nothing more important than preparing the perfect turkey. Rather than cooking your turkey whole this year, try a modern approach and butterfly your bird. This method lays the turkey flat and exposes the drumsticks and thighs to direct oven heat, creating juicy, perfectly cooked turkey meat with crispy, evenly browned skin. 

Gather Your supplies

Before you can begin, you'll need to gather some simple supplies, most of which you most likely already have in your kitchen. You'll need:

  • 15-pound Fresh or Thawed Turkey
  • Kitchen Shears 
  • Large Cutting Board 
  • Rimmed Baking Sheet 

5 Steps To Debone & Butterfly A Turkey

Step 1: Preparing for cutting 

To get started, remove the turkey neck and giblet bag from the cavity and place the turkey breast-side down on the cutting board.

Step 2: Removing the backbone 

With the turkey breast-side down, use your kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone, starting at the tail end. If you hit a tough spot, you don’t necessarily have to use more elbow grease. Just pull back a little and snip the harder areas using only the tip of the shears. 

Step 3: Opening the turkey 

Remove the backbone. Then, take hold of both newly cut edges, and open that turkey up. Before you flip the turkey over, take a minute to remove any large pieces of fat that you can see. Note: Make sure to save the backbone for stock. 

Step 4: Break the breastbone 

Face the turkey breast-side up, and place your hand on one side of the breast. Keeping your hand close to the breastbone, push down firmly until you hear a cracking sound. Then, repeat on the other side. For better leverage during this step, try standing on a step stool. 

Step 5: Flatten the turkey 

You’ve reached the last step! Now, you’re ready to flatten the turkey. To do this, pull the thighs outward so the turkey lies flat. Then, tuck the wing tips under to secure. Congratulations! You just butterflied your first turkey. 

Cooking & Preparing A Butterfly Turkey

With your turkey properly butterflied, you’re ready to season and cook that delicious bird. To properly season, rub kosher salt, black pepper, chopped sage and softened butter on skin, under the skin and in cavity of the turkey. Then, preheat the oven to 425° F. When it’s ready, place the turkey cavity-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Cooking time should take about 3 hours, but make sure to test that your turkey is properly cooked by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. Once the temperature hits 165° F, you’ll know that bird is thoroughly cooked. Let rest before carving (at least 30 minutes). 

While many sauces and gravies pair well with a butterflied turkey, we recommend using our Sweet and Savory Citrus Gravy. It’s a delightful addition that combines the savory flavors of traditional gravy with a fresh kick of jalapenos and zesty oranges.