Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

Herb-Rubbed Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe

This herb butter-rubbed variation of our original spatchcock turkey goes from fridge to table in 2 hours. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

So you've seen our spatchcock turkey and you're intrigued by the promise of extra-crisp skin and ultra-moist meat, all in about 90 minutes...but there's just one thing that bugs you: You're the kind of person who likes to put decals on their car or glitter on their greeting cards. In other words, plain old salt and pepper just ain't gonna cut if for ya. Well here's the recipe for you. It's got all of the same crisp skin and juicy meat as the original recipe, but with a flavor-packed herb butter to coat it.

Why this recipe works:

  • Butterflying the turkey exposes more skin to improve browning and creates more channels for rendering fat. This creates extra crisp skin.
  • A low profile means the turkey cooks through in under 90 minutes.
  • The legs lay flatter than the breasts, helping them to reach a higher final temperature without overcooking the breast meat.

Note: For best results, dry-brine your turkey by following the instructions here. If dry-brining, omit any additional salt in herb butter. The neck and backbone of the turkey can be used to fortify stock used to make gravy. Chop them into rough chunks with a cleaver, brown in oil in a medium saucepan along with chopped onions, carrot, celery, and bay leaf, then cover with homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock. Simmer for 1 hour before straining and using to make gravy.

For full step-by-step photos demonstrating how to prepare a butterflied turkey for roasting, check out the slideshow here.

  • Yield:Serves 10 to 12
  • Active time: 35 minutes
  • Total time:2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds total), butterflied according to these instructions (reserve backbone and neck if making stock for gravy, see note above)
  • Gravy, for serving

Directions

  1. 1.

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan with aluminum foil. Place slotted broiler rack or wire rack on top.

  2. 2.

    Combine garlic, chives, parsley, sage, thyme, and shallots in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse, scraping down sides as necessary, until finely chopped and no large pieces remain. Scatter butter chunks on top. Pulse until homogenous paste is formed. Season generously with salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Transfer half of butter mixture to a small saucepan and melt over low heat.

  3. 3.

    Gently separate the skin of the turkey from the flesh using your hands, going in through the bottom of the breast and working up along both breast halves and the thighs. Using your hands, rub butter directly on the turkey meat underneath the skin all over. Massage the skin from the outside until the butter is distributed in an even layer.

  4. 4.

    Brush exterior of the turkey with the melted butter until evenly coated. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and transfer to the wire rack.

  5. 5.

    Transfer turkey to oven and roast, rotating occasionally, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 150°F, and the thighs register at least 165°F, about 80 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving. Serve immediately.