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Roast Turkey with Lemon, Sage, and Garlic and Giblet Gravy

spatchcock roast turkey

This spatchcocked roast turkey is spread open and roasted flat to speed up the cooking time.

It won’t look like your perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey with legs pointed up ready to carve. It is meant to be carved in the kitchen.

Since it is baked with lemon, sage and garlic, the taste will be simply amazing.

What does Spatchcock Mean?

When you spatchcock a turkey it just means that the backbone is cut out.

Spatchcock turkey comes from an old culinary term of Irish origin. It is an abbreviation of “dispatch cock,” a phrase used to describe preparing a bird by splitting it down the back, spreading it open like a book, and pressing it flat for easy, faster roasting. The term butterflied turkey is also used.

Once carved and presented on a platter you won’t be able to tell the difference between a spatchcocked roast turkey and one you have roasted whole.

This turkey recipe is one of many delicious recipes found in a cookbook called New Thanksgiving Table: An American Celebration of Family, Friends, and Food by Diane Morgan.

Here is what Diane has to say about this butterflied roasted turkey:

Roasting turkey using “This method is brilliant for the Thanksgiving cook with little time to prepare and cook, because a 10- to 14-pound turkey will roast in about an hour and a half. I promise that butterflying the turkey is not difficult, especially if you have poultry shears or a sharp chef’s knife.”

Spatchcock Roast Turkey with Lemon, Sage and Garlic

Roast Turkey with Lemon, Sage, and Garlic and Giblet Gravy

This spatchcocked roast turkey is cut in the back, split open and roasted flat to speed up the cooking time. It's a fabulous way to cook turkey.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings


  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon, zest removed in 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 10 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, at room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 10 - 14 pounds fresh or thawed frozen turkey, removed from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting


  • Position a rack on the second-lowest level in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  • Have ready a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the turkey when laid flat after spatchcocking (butterflying).
  • In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the garlic, lemon zest, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Process until finely minced. Add the butter and process until well combined.
  • Place the turkey, still in its original wrappings, in a clean sink. Carefully slit open the plastic wrapper and remove the turkey. Remove the neck and bag of giblets from both the main cavity and neck cavity of the bird. Store them in a covered container in the refrigerator for making the gravy. Remove the plastic or metal clip holding the legs together. Pull and discard any fat pockets from the neck and main cavities of the bird. Trim off the tail, if desired, and store along with the neck and giblets for stock. Rinse the turkey and pat dry thoroughly.
  • To butterfly the turkey, place it, breast down, on a cutting board. Using poultry shears or a chef’s knife, cut through the turkey from one end to the other on each side of the backbone to remove it. Cut the backbone in half and refrigerate it for making stock for gravy. Turn the turkey breast side up, pull the body open, and use the heel of your hand to press down firmly, cracking the rib bones so the turkey lays flat. This takes a little pressure and strength; you might need to make a partial cut through the breast bone to get the turkey to lay flat.
  • Using your fingers, and being careful not to tear the skin, loosen the skin from the breast of the turkey to create a pocket. Smear the lemon-herb butter all over the breast meat under the skin with your fingers, pushing some butter over the thigh and leg meat. Rub the skin of the turkey all over with any remaining flavored butter and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Transfer to the roasting pan, laying the turkey out flat, skin side up.
  • Roast turkey for about 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the bird, until an instant-read thermometer registers between 160° to 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Make the giblet gravy while the turkey is roasting.
  • Transfer the turkey to a carving board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 20 minutes before carving, to allow the juices to redistribute. (The internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees while the turkey rests.) Finish making the gravy while the turkey is resting.
  • Strain the juices and browned bits from the roasting pan through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large glass measuring cup. Set aside and allow the fat to rise to the top. Spoon off the fat. The pan juices can be added to the gravy.
  • Carve the turkey.
  • Serve the roast turkey accompanied by the Giblet Gravy (recipe is below).
  • Serves 8 to 12, depending on the size of the turkey
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Giblet Gravy for a Spatchcocked Roast Turkey

This gravy gets deep flavor from adding the turkey backbone to the stock along with the neck and giblets. Make the stock and strain it while the turkey roasts.

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Turkey backbone, neck, tail, gizzard, and heart
1 yellow onion, root end trimmed but peel left intact, quartered
1 large carrot, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 large rib celery including leafy tops, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
5 cups cold water
1/4 cup instant flour such as Wondra or Shake & Blend
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Begin the gravy by first making a turkey stock. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the turkey parts and sauté until browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, chicken broth, and water to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Skim any brown foam that rises to the top. Simmer the stock until it reduces by half, about 1 hour. Pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl or 4-cup glass measure.

Set aside the neck, back, gizzard, and heart until cool enough to handle. Discard the rest of the solids. Set the stock aside, and when the fat rises to the top, skim it off. Shred the meat from the neck and back and set aside. Finely dice the gizzard and heart and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the flour and 1/2 cup of the strained turkey stock until the flour is dissolved.

Stir the reserved defatted juices from the roasting pan into the turkey stock. Measure 3 cups of the stock and pour it into a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour mixture and simmer until the gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved gizzard and heart along with a portion of the shredded meat, just enough to enrich the gravy. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed gravy boat or bowl and serve immediately over the roast turkey.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

This recipe is perfect for so many restricted diets. The turkey itself, without the gravy, is very low carb and gluten free. It makes a perfect diabetes diet recipe as well as perfect for keto and paleo diets.

Look here for our traditional roast turkey recipe.

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Spatchcock Roast Turkey with Lemon, Sage and Garlic

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