The Easiest Thanksgiving Turkey
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The easiest way to cook your Thanksgiving bird is to spatchcock it, or cut out the backbone, allowing it lay flat and cook evenly in under 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Serves: 10
For the Turkey:
  • 1-2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 13-15 pound turkey, spatchcocked/butterflied
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
For the Gravy:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • backbone, neck and giblets from the turkey, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1½ quarts (6 cups) homemade or store-bought chicken or turkey stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. First, prep your turkey overnight. Pat your turkey very dry, then rub 1-2 cups of salt all over the turkey, inside and out, and under the skin. Do not throw the giblets or neck away - save them for the gravy! You can spatchcock/butterfly your turkey before or after you do this - I did mine after for no particular reason at all. I put my turkey in a brine bag in the fridge overnight while it sat with the salt on it, lightly closed, but you can put it on a plate or in a roasting pan, lightly covered with foil, too. [As a side note, people like to brine turkey in some kind of salt water or apple juice mixture, which is fine, but this just water logs the turkey and makes it tastes like water or apple juice. "Curing" the turkey with salt, however, gives the same benefit of breaking down the muscle fibers in the turkey to make it moist and juicy without taking on the flavor of anything of than delicious turkey.]
  2. When you're ready to cook your turkey, you can rinse it if you want. I didn't, but if you're worried about it being too salty, go ahead, just make sure you pat it super dry. Then, chop your onions, carrots and celery. Line a baking tray with foil if you don't have a roasting pan, then toss the vegetables and rosemary together and spread them out on the baking tray or roasting pan. Top the vegetables with a cooling rack fitted into the baking sheet or the roasting tray itself. Set aside.
  3. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. It's time to spatchcock your turkey if you haven't already. Place a wet paper towel under your cutting board so that it doesn't slip around, and using a pair of kitchen shears (highly recommended) or a very sharp knife, carefully cut the backbone out of your turkey, starting at the tail end. Cutting through gets a little tough in certain areas, but just follow the back bone and keep cutting. See the photos above if you're unsure, but I promise this is really easy and almost impossible to mess up. Do one side, then do the other. Be really careful not to slip or cut yourself - do not attempt this with a blunt knife.
  4. Once the back bone is out, set it aside to be used for the gravy. Flip the bird over so that it is breast side up. Using as much force as possible, press your palm into the "sternum" of the turkey, between the two breasts, and press down to flatten the bird as much as possible (again, see the photos above). Spread the legs out, away from the body, and tuck the wings in so that they don't burn in the oven. Rub the whole thing with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Place the turkey on top of your prepare sheet or roasting pan and place in the oven for 70-80 minutes, until the breast registers 150 degrees F and the thighs register 165 degrees F. Please note that the larger the turkey, the longer the cooking time. I would aim for around 5.5 minutes per pound.
  5. When the turkey is done, let it rest for 20 minutes or so before carving. Save any juices from the bottom of the pan to add to the gravy.
For the Gravy:
  1. Roughly chop the giblets, neck and back bone. The neck and back bone can be hard to chop, so I just did the best I could - the pieces were probably 3-4 inches long. Heat your oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or pot over medium-high heat and add in the giblets, neck and back bone. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add in the onion, carrot and celery until lightly browned, about another 5-6 minutes, then add in the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 more minute. Add in your stock and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat until the gravy is simmering. Simmer for 45 minutes, while the turkey cooks, skimming off any fat from the surface as necessary.
  2. Once the gravy is ready, strain into a large bowl and discard any solids. Again, skim off any fat that you see. Wipe out your original pot and add your butter, cooking over medium-high heat until melted. Add in the flour, and whisk constantly until the flour has browned, about 1-2 minutes. Again, whisking constantly, pour the strained broth into the flour mixture, a little at a time, only adding more once incorporated. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the gravy has reduced to about 1 quart, or 4 cups, which will take about 20 minutes.
  3. Once the turkey is done, strain any juices from the bottom of its roasting pan and whisk them into the gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to use - you can also heat it up again later, if need be. Serve alongside the carved turkey and mashed potatoes, of course.
Adapted From
Recipe by The Crepes of Wrath at