Easy Herb Butter Roast Spatchcock Turkey

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE SALES LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY FULL DISCLAIMER POLICY FOR DETAILS.
With the timelessly classic flavors of lemon & herbs, my Easy Herb Butter Roast Spatchcock Turkey is the easiest recipe for an unforgettable Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or holiday dinner! These flavors never get old, & they deserve a special place on your Thanksgiving dinner table. Mix lemon zest, rosemary, sage, & thyme in with fresh butter, & then use it to season your spatchcock turkey for a perfectly juicy herb butter roasted turkey made in 3 hours or less!

Planning your Thanksgiving Menu? Sign up for our FREE email series, Best of Thanksgiving! We’re sharing everything you need to know to plan your best Thanksgiving yet – turkey tips, classic & creative sides, menu inspiration, & more – all delivered straight to your inbox!

Best of Thanksgiving
An overhead shot of a roasted spatchcocked turkey seasoned with lemon herb butter arranged on a white serving platter. The platter has been garnished with various fresh herbs and lemon slices. A light gray linen napkin is tucked underneath the platter and the platter sits atop ​a lightly colored textured surface.

A Classic, No-Fuss Thanksgiving Turkey

We’ve all felt the intimidation of roasting a Thanksgiving turkey. But cooking Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be overwhelming! With the right recipe, you can 100% make an outstanding Thanksgiving meal that is both quick & easy. This is why I set out to make the easiest, no-fuss Thanksgiving turkey recipe out there – so you can use the extra time to enjoy more moments with your loved ones this holiday. (That’s what the holiday season is all about anyway, right?)

My Herb Butter Roasted Turkey recipe is the best! It uses my absolute favorite method for cooking a turkey – spatchcocking, more on that in a sec! – plus the classic flavors of lemon & herbs that you likely already have in your kitchen during the holiday season. The fresh lemon zest & aromatic herbs are used to make a lemon herb butter that is the secret to this mouthwatering roasted turkey. (BTW, we’re kiiinda obsessed with herb butter turkey here at PWWB. Check out my Spatchcock Maple Glazed Turkey recipe for some more buttery turkey goodness!)

So kick your feet up & relax! This easy turkey recipe is the key to hosting a delicious, no-fuss Thanksgiving. It comes together quickly without sacrificing any amount of flavor, leaving you plenty of extra time to sip on a glass of wine & watch football. 

Herb Butter Spatchcock Turkey Recipe Overview

This herb butter turkey comes together in just a few easy steps…

  1. Spatchcock the turkey. A spatchcock turkey is a turkey that has had its backbone removed, allowing it to lay flat & cook more evenly. This super effective technique gives you a perfectly roasted Thanksgiving turkey in way less time. 
  2. Season the turkey with herb butter. A simple lemon herb butter is the secret to this juicy & flavorful spatchcock turkey. I mean, c’mon – how can it get better than butter, lemon, & fresh herbs, right?! When your turkey is in the oven, all these amazing flavors will melt into the meat, creating a stunningly delicious herb butter roasted turkey.
  3. Roast the herb butter turkey & baste for extra flavor. Everything you need to know about how to roast a spatchcock turkey below! The secret is taking time to baste the turkey as it roasts with all of its juicy, lemony goodness. This step adds even more flavor to the turkey & helps it get deliciously crispy skin.

You’re going to LOVE this super-easy, super unforgettable roast spatchcock turkey! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Herb Butter Roast Spatchcock Turkey, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

How to Spatchcock a Turkey

Okay, first things first. Curious what the heck I mean when I say “spatchcock turkey?” Pretty simple – it’s a seriously game-changing method for breaking down your turkey! You’re going to want to get to know it well! 

By using a spatchcock turkey to make this herb butter turkey recipe, we’re able to do a few AMAZING things: 

  1. Reduce the roast time of the turkey.
  2. Cook the turkey way, way more evenly.
  3. Never have a super dry Thanksgiving turkey again!

That’s because a spatchcock turkey lies flat in the roasting pan, allowing the heat of the oven to properly cook every part of the turkey. Spatchcock turkey is a complete miracle on Thanksgiving day!

To spatchcock a turkey, start by removing its backbone. You can do this with a pair of kitchen shears or (carefully!) with a very sharp knife. Once the backbone is removed, you should be able to start gently stretching the turkey open until you get to its chest bone. Run the blade of your knife down the chest bone, scoring it so it’s easier to complete the spatchcock by snapping the chest bone. Once this is done, your turkey can lay completely flat & be ready for the oven!

It’s not as hard as it sounds, trust me. If you’d like more guidance, check out our complete step-by-step guide: How to Spatchcock a Turkey. This post includes everything you need to know about how to spatchcock a turkey, plus it has step-by-step photos to help you along the way!

A spatchcock turkey lays flat as it roasts. As a result, spatchcocking significantly speeds up the roasting process & results in a more evenly cooked turkey every time!

Thanksgiving FAQ: What size turkey do I need? 

As you prepare your spatchcock turkey, you’ll want to consider exactly how much meat you need to feed your dinner guests. The general rule of thumb is one pound of turkey per person. For a spatchcock turkey recipe, I don’t recommend using a turkey any larger than 14 pounds. Why? ⇢ Larger turkeys won’t fit in a conventional roasting pan once it’s lying flat! If you need more meat, roast two smaller turkeys instead.

Thanksgiving Prep Tip! ⇢ Spatchcock Your Turkey In Advance.

If you have some time the night before your holiday meal, taking 30 minutes to get a head start on prepping the turkey is a great place to start. Spatchcock the turkey, place it in a roasting pan, & let it sit, uncovered, in the fridge overnight. This helps the turkey skin lose some of its excess moisture, resulting in an even crisper golden brown herb butter turkey. This not only cuts down on day-of prep time quite a bit, but will also make for an even tastier turkey!

How to Make Herb Butter Turkey

Now that you have a spatchcock turkey, it’s time to start seasoning it with the best flavors out there: lemon & herbs.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

First Up – The Best Easy Lemon Herb Butter

My mouth seriously already starts watering when I think about this lemon herb butter. It’s the absolute best combination of two of my favorite things: fresh lemons & fresh herbs. This deliciously seasoned butter is the star of this herb butter turkey recipe.

Herb butter is one of those things that sounds way fancier than it is. Making your own herb butter is an awesome way to add a punch of flavor to any recipe, especially this herb butter turkey. Plus, it’s super simple to whip up!

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • First, zest your lemons & finely chop your fresh herbs. Your kitchen is going to smell like an AMAZING blend of citrus & herbs at this point! Suggested fresh herbs ⇢ Use whatever herbs you’d like, but I highly recommend a combination of fresh rosemary, sage, & thyme. You can often find these fresh herbs bundled together at the grocery store as “poultry herbs,” which is often much more cost effective than buying them individually.  
  • Then, mix the lemon herb butter. Once the lemons & herbs are prepped, simply mix it in some softened butter with a bit of salt & pepper. That’s it – easy!

Thanksgiving Prep Tip! ⇢ You can prep this lemon herb butter up to 1 week in advance, which is a great way to cut down on active prep required the day of your turkey dinner. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The morning of your holiday meal, simply pull the herb butter from the fridge to soften to room temperature for turkey prep.

Lemon herb butter is fragrant & flavorful, a classic pairing for roast turkey.

Then Season the Turkey – My Go-To Herb Butter Turkey Buttering Technique

It’s time to butter up your turkey! Here’s how we do it ⇢ Take a few tablespoons of butter with the fingers of one of our hands, insert it under the skin, & then use our free hand to push the butter onto the meat, spreading it across the turkey. (See photos below.) There’s a bit of a rhythm to it, but it’s super easy once you get the hang of it!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

By working the lemon herb butter into every nook & cranny of the spatchcock turkey, you’ll create a deliciously juicy & flavorful turkey since the butter melts down into the meat as the turkey roasts. Be sure to get the butter right in between the skin & meat of the bird & slather it on. I’m serious – the more butter, the better! (Remember, a whole turkey is a hearty protein that can handle a lot of butter, so don’t hold back!)

After every inch of that spatchcock turkey is covered in lemon herb butter, set it in a roasting pan with aromatic veggies like onions & carrots. From there, it’s ready to go in the oven!

How to Roast A Spatchcock Turkey

Your herb butter roasted turkey is nearly there! Once it goes in the oven, it’ll be ready in no time. 

Start by roasting the spatchcock turkey for 30 minutes at a high temperature – 450 degrees F. At this point, carefully spoon or brush the lemony, buttery, herbaceous juices from the bird out of the roasting pan & all over the surface of the roast spatchcock turkey. This step really brings the herb butter roasted turkey to life! 

After the first baste, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, return the roasting pan to the oven, & continue roasting the turkey for another hour. Every 20 minutes you’ll need to take the turkey out of the oven to repeat the basting process. 

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

I LOVE these juices we’re basting with! Brushing them on the exterior of your roast spatchcock turkey helps the bird’s skin get nice & crispy while also adding a whole new layer of lemony, herbaceous flavor. Don’t skip this step! (A tip: when you take the herb butter roasted turkey out of the oven for basting, rotate the roasting pan 180 degrees every time you put it back in the oven. This helps promote even roasting & browning of your turkey!)

Your turkey is done once an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 155 degrees F. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh to make sure the turkey is properly cooked all the way through.

Resting, Carving, & Serving

When you take the herb butter roasted turkey out of the oven, you’re going to be overwhelmed by the unbelievable smell of hearty herbs & zesty lemon. Resist the temptation to dig in right away! Your lemon herb butter turkey needs about 30 minutes to rest! All those delicious juices will settle, redistributing throughout the turkey, & the turkey will continue to cook until it reaches a safe 165 degrees F. 

Tent your turkey with aluminum foil while it rests to keep it warm. But before you do, take a moment to admire just how GORGEOUS your spatchcock turkey looks, glistening in fresh juices with golden brown skin — it’s picture-perfect! 

Easy Turkey Gravy

Since the turkey needs about 30 minutes to rest properly, now’s the perfect time to prep turkey gravy. For maximum flavor, I always make my turkey gravy right in the roasting pan, using the gloriously flavorful herb butter turkey drippings. Check out this Easy Turkey Gravy recipe for a full how-to!

Carving Tips & Tricks!

With the turkey rested & gravy prepped, all that’s left is carving the turkey. Carving a roast spatchcock turkey is similar to carving any other poultry. It’s honestly a little easier than carving a traditional Thanksgiving turkey since it’s already lying flat!

Start by removing the legs, drumsticks, & wings by cutting at the joints. Then hold the breast firmly in place with one hand & use the knife to help cut the meat away from the breast bone. This roast spatchcock turkey is tender & juicy, so it should fall away from the bone pretty easily! Then slice the light & dark meat into serving-sized pieces. 

Serving

To serve your roast spatchcock turkey, arrange all of your beautiful roasted turkey meat on a serving platter. Everyone will be fighting for this plate as it’s passed around the table! If you want to get fancy, garnish your turkey platter with fresh herbs, lemons, or other greens to make your spatchcock turkey look even more like a superstar!

& there you go – you just made the easiest herb butter roast spatchcock turkey in way less time than you budgeted for cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Now all that’s left to do is eat! (& relax, while someone else does the dishes.)

I can’t wait for you to try this Easy Lemon Herb Butter Roast Spatchcock Turkey recipe! It’s a foolproof Thanksgiving staple, made & loved by thousands of PWWB readers over the years. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Planning the Best-Ever Thanksgiving Menu? 🙌🏼 You’re in the right place! Be sure to try my Best-Ever Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage & Mushrooms, Best-Ever Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic, or Best-Ever Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Pine Nuts. ♡ Happy cooking!

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
An overhead shot of a roasted spatchcocked turkey seasoned with lemon herb butter arranged on a white serving platter. The platter has been garnished with various fresh herbs and lemon slices. A light gray linen napkin is tucked underneath the platter and the platter sits atop ​a lightly colored textured surface.

Lemon Herb Butter Roast Spatchcock Turkey (The Easiest Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe!)

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Resting time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: serves 1012 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes, Poultry & Turkey Recipes, Thanksgiving Recipes
  • Method: Spatchcock, Butterflied, Roasted
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

With the classic flavors of lemon & herbs, this Herb Butter Roast Spatchcock Turkey is the easiest recipe for an unforgettable meal for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or any holiday dinner! Mix lemon zest, rosemary, sage, & thyme in with fresh butter, & then use it to season a spatchcock turkey for a perfectly juicy herb butter roasted turkey made in 3 hours or less!

Ingredients

Scale

INGREDIENTS:

  • one 1214 pound whole turkey, thawed (& brined – optional) (see Recipe Notes)
  • lemon herb butter (below)
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped into 34 large pieces
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

for the Lemon Herb Butter:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped hardy fresh herbs, such as oregano, rosemary, sage, or thyme
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

Useful Equipment:

  • Large plastic cutting board
  • Sharp kitchen shears 
  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Rolling pin
  • Roasting pan
  • Turkey baster or basting brush
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Carving set

Instructions

*REMINDER: If frozen, do not forget to begin thawing your turkey well before the day you plan on roasting it! If it is still frozen day-of, your turkey will not safely defrost & cook in time for dinner – it’s just not possible. The safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is by placing it in the coolest section of your refrigerator. The cool, controlled temperature will slowly thaw without any areas of the turkey being in the ‘danger’ temperature zone in which bacteria grow & multiply (between 40-140 degrees F). As a general rule of thumb, plan for 24 hours refrigerated thawing for every 4 pounds – so, a 12-14 pound turkey will require 3-4 days refrigerated thawing before it’s ready to be spatchcocked & roasted.

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Remove the turkey from its packaging. There is no need to rinse your turkey (rinsing promotes cross-contamination). Instead, simply use paper towel to pat the surface of the turkey as dry as possible. If present, remove the neck & giblets from the cavity of the turkey. Discard or set aside for easy turkey gravy. Transfer the turkey to a large plastic cutting board atop a stable, sturdy surface. Place the turkey breast side facing down. Spatchcock Turkey ingredients arranged on a light textured surface: one whole turkey, kosher salt, butter, lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs. The whole turkey rests a top two sheets of brown crumpled parchment paper that sit atop a white cutting board. A pair of beige kitchen shears rest alongside the raw turkey.
  2. Prep the lemon herb butter: Add all listed herb butter ingredients to a medium bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Mix to combine well. Set aside for immediate use, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  3. Spatchcock the turkey: (Note: For more guidance + step-by-step photos, be sure to check out this full How to Spatchcock a Turkey guide!) Using very sharp kitchen shears or a sharp knife, carefully snip along each side of the turkey’s backbone until it’s completely detached. Discard or set aside for easy turkey gravy. Locate the top of the turkey’s breast plate directly behind the turkey breasts. Place the heel of a sharp chef’s knife in the center of the top of the breast plate. Use a rolling pin to carefully yet forcefully tap the spine of the knife, wedging the heel of the knife into the bone. Continue tapping until the bone cracks. Use your hands to stretch the inner cavity of the turkey as wide open as possible, then flip the turkey such that its breast side is facing up. Place your hands on the center of its breasts, on the breast bone. Use your body weight to apply pressure to the chest plate, cracking the bone all the way through such that the turkey lays flat  – your turkey is spatchcocked & ready for roasting. Great job!!!
  4. Season the spatchcocked turkey: Use your hands to spread the prepared lemon herb butter from Step 2 between the turkey skin & meat. Buttering the turkey meat directly helps keep it juicy & flavorful. If needed, use paper towel to pat the turkey skin as dry as possible. Drizzle the olive oil over the entire surface of the turkey skin, then season generously with kosher salt & ground black pepper. If you have any remaining lemon herb butter, dot it over the top of the turkey.
  5. Prepare for roasting: Arrange the onions & carrots across the bottom of a roasting pan. (You can be as rustic as you’d like – no one will see!) If desired, place the turkey neck & spine in the roasting pan, too, for extra flavorful turkey gravy. Set your seasoned spatchcock turkey over top, breast side facing up. Gently tuck the wing tips behind the breasts to prevent burning.
  6. Roast the turkey: Transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Roast at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven for basting. Carefully spoon or brush the drippings in the roasting pan all over the surface of the turkey. Return the roasting pan to the oven, reducing the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue roasting the turkey for 1 additional hour, removing the turkey from the oven every 20 minutes to repeat the basting process. If desired, rotate the roasting pan 180 degrees each time you place it back in the oven to promote even roasting & browning. Pull the turkey from the oven once an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers an internal temperature of 155 degrees F.
  7. Rest the turkey. Very carefully transfer the roast spatchcock turkey to a cutting board or large flat surface. Tent with foil & set aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before carving. As the turkey rests, its juices will redistribute throughout the meat & its internal temperature will continue to rise to a safe 165 degrees F.
  8. Optional: Prep turkey gravy: Meanwhile, as the turkey rests, prep turkey gravy as desired. For more guidance + step-by-step photos, be sure to check out my Easy Turkey Gravy recipe!
  9. Carve & serve: Carve, serve & enjoy!

Notes

  • Recipe FAQ: What size Thanksgiving turkey should I use?  Not sure how much turkey you’ll need to feed your dinner crowd? The general rule of thumb is to aim for one pound of turkey per person. For this roast spatchcock turkey recipe, I recommend using a turkey between 12-14 pounds. Since it lies flat as it roasts, a turkey larger than 14 pounds likely won’t fit in a conventional roasting pan. If you need more turkey to feed your guests, then try preparing two smaller spatchcock turkeys rather than one large turkey. This will also help your turkey meat stay extra-juicy!
  • Thanksgiving Prep Tips: This herb butter roasted turkey recipe is quite straightforward & easy, though you can prep a couple of components in advance to make Thanksgiving day cooking even more effortless. Here’s what I suggest: 
    • Make-ahead lemon herb butter: Up to 1 week in advance, prepare the lemon herb butter according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The morning of your holiday meal, simply pull the herb butter from the fridge to soften to room temperature for turkey prep. (<10 minutes active prep)
    • Make-ahead spatchcock turkey: If you have some time the night before your holiday meal, taking 30 minutes to get a head start on prepping the turkey is a great place to start. Spatchcock the turkey according to Step 3 of Recipe Directions above. Place it in a roasting pan & let it sit, uncovered, in the fridge overnight. This helps the turkey skin lose some of its excess moisture, resulting in an even crisper golden brown herb butter turkey. This not only cuts down on day-of prep time quite a bit, but will also make for an even tastier turkey! (30 minutes active prep)

Keywords: spatchcock turkey recipe, roast spatchcock turkey, herb butter, herb butter roasted turkey, Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Christmas, easy, fast, butterflied, roasted, poultry, lemon, fresh herbs

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Megan McKeehan

Planning Your Thanksgiving Menu?

You’re in the right place! 🙌🏼 Here at PWWB, Thanksgiving is our absolute favorite holiday meal! Head over to our Thanksgiving Recipes archive for tons of incredible Thanksgiving dishes, ideas, & inspiration.

We also welcome you to sign up to join the PWWB email list – you’ll get immediate access to the PWWB Best of Thanksgiving Email Series! This brand new, completely free email series will walk you through everything you need to know as you begin to prep for your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebrations this year, including…

  • Turkey 101 – A fool-proof method for juicy & flavorful turkey, plus tons of turkey tips & tricks!
  • The BEST Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Classic old favorites & creative new ideas to round out your Thanksgiving menu this year!
  • The 3-Hour Thanksgiving Guide – The ultimate plan for hosting Thanksgiving without the stress! This FREE download is complete with a full menu, shopping list, detailed timeline, & of course delicious recipes.
  • & NEW Thanksgiving Recipes – All of our newest Thanksgiving recipes & ideas delivered straight to your inbox, starting Monday, November 1st.

Let’s make this your BEST Thanksgiving yet!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

Topics

Sign up for our newsletter

Leave a Rating & Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.