Cajun-Spiced Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe

A roasted spatchcocked turkey covered in Cajun spices.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why This Recipe Works

  • Spatchcocking the bird results in meat that cooks faster and more evenly, with better-browned, crispier skin.
  • A fragrant spice mixture adds tons of deep flavor.
  • A simple jus is all the accompaniment this bird needs.

Taking a page out of the Louisiana playbook, this turkey is rubbed all over with a fragrant, lightly spicy mix that includes paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander seed, cumin, black pepper, onion and garlic powders, and both dried oregano and dried thyme. The result is a rich, deeply flavored bird with a gorgeous rust-colored skin. It's different, yet recognizably all-American in the best sort of way.

Recipe Details

Cajun-Spiced Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe

Active 45 mins
Total 2 hrs
Serves 10 to 12 servings


  • 3 large onions, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 quarts; 1 1/2 pounds; 680g), divided

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 quart; 12 ounces; 340g), divided

  • 4 ribs celery, roughly chopped (about 1 quart; 12 ounces; 340g), divided

  • 12 thyme sprigs, divided

  • 1 tablespoon (12g) paprika

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) cayenne pepper

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) ground coriander seeds

  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) ground cumin

  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) onion powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) garlic powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3g) dried thyme

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3g) dried oregano

  • 1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds total; 5.5 to 6.3kg), butterflied according to these instructions, backbone, neck, and giblets reserved

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil, divided

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 quarts (1.4L) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or turkey stock

  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scatter two-thirds of onions, carrots, celery, and thyme sprigs across pan. Place a wire rack directly on top of vegetables.

  2. Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, combine paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano. Chop or crush to a powder.

  3. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub turkey all over with spice rub. Rub 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil all over turkey, then season liberally on all surfaces with salt and black pepper. (If using a brined, salted, or kosher turkey, omit salting step; see note.) Tuck wing tips behind back. Place turkey on top of rack, arranging so that it does not overlap the edges, pressing down on breastbone to flatten breasts slightly.

  4. Transfer turkey to oven and roast, rotating occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into deepest part of breast registers 150°F (66°C) and thighs register at least 165°F (74°C), about 1 hour 20 minutes.

  5. While turkey roasts, make jus. Roughly chop reserved neck, backbone, and giblets. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add chopped turkey parts and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add remaining onions, carrots, and celery and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften and brown in spots, about 5 minutes longer. Add chicken stock, remaining thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Simmer until reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a 2-quart liquid measuring cup and discard solids. Skim off any fat from surface of broth. Season jus to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm.

  6. When turkey is cooked, remove from oven and transfer rack to a new baking sheet. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving. Carefully pour any collected juices from pan through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup. Skim off excess fat and discard. Whisk juices into jus.

  7. Carve turkey and serve with jus.

Special equipment

Rimmed baking sheets, wire rack, spice grinder or mortar and pestle, instant-read thermometer, fine-mesh strainer


For best results, dry-brine your turkey by following the instructions here. If dry-brining, omit any extra salt added to the turkey in step 3. For full step-by-step photos demonstrating how to prepare a butterflied turkey for roasting, check out the slideshow here.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
423 Calories
18g Fat
3g Carbs
60g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 423
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 221mg 74%
Sodium 961mg 42%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 60g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 58mg 4%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 644mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)