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Smoking a Large Turkey - Spatchcock vs Cutting in Pieces

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    Smoking a Large Turkey - Spatchcock vs Cutting in Pieces

    I have a 26 pound Butterball turkey to smoke for Thanksgiving (I know, I should have bought two 13lbers). I am planning on smoking on the Chubby G2. Probably just B&B charcoal or maybe a little cherry chunk. I plan to cook at 325-350.

    It contains 8% solution of water, salt, etc. I was going to inject with Butcher's BBQ Bird Booster, or dry brine and inject with some butter.

    Given the 8% solutions, would you recommend doing any injections or dry brine?

    If I spatchcock, it will just fit on one rack (22 x 15.5). But I am wondering if it would cook better if I cut it into pieces (skin remains on). I would spatchcock the breast and separate the thighs, drumsticks, and wings. Cook the breast on one rack, and thighs, drumsticks and wings just below on a second rack. Appearance for presentation is not an issue as it will be sliced, along with a fried turkey and a ham, before hitting the table (a buffet).

    Will cutting into pieces significantly change cook time from spatchcock?

    Should I separate the breasts from the bone before cooking or just spatchcock?

    I would appreciate your advice on which way you would go.

    I would just spatchcock and cut it into halves. Easy to handle and easy to fit on the racks. Will cook nicely. That’s what I did Last year with great success.


    • jlazar
      jlazar commented
      Editing a comment
      Had not thought of that option. Would definitely fit easier than the full spatchcock.

    I haven’t bought mine yet but will probably end up with a 15 lb Butterball as that is what my Mariano’s (Kroger) has on sale. I’m planning on skipping the dry brine but I am definitely going to inject some melted butter into it. I believe the Butterballs have 200mg of sodium per serving which I think is at a level where you can dry brine if you want. I only dry brine steaks 🥩 so this isn’t an issue for me.


    • jlazar
      jlazar commented
      Editing a comment
      You are right. Mine says 200mg per serving or 9% of daily.

    Personally i would part it out. That way you can pull breasts/thighs etc at the perfect temp. Plate it up nice with the legs whole and the breasts sliced across for people to serve themselves as wanted. Unless you are dying to get the whole turkey picture and do the carving.


    • jlazar
      jlazar commented
      Editing a comment
      No need for a whole turkey picture. If I cut it up, I plan to follow this technique:

      Last edited by jlazar; November 18, 2021, 07:59 PM.

    • grantgallagher
      grantgallagher commented
      Editing a comment
      if it was 12-16 lb range i would spatchcock and cook. But 26 lbs is a big bird. The video you posted looks solid.

      Ultimately though, just do whatever you feel most comfortable with.
      Last edited by grantgallagher; November 18, 2021, 07:49 PM.

    With a bird that big I’d go parts, but my normal method is cut it in half down the middle of the breast after spatchcocking.


      I like the sound of spatchcocking, so spatchcock it is. The bonus is the presentation, I really like its looks.
      From internet.


        how far in advance can one dry brine? I bought some of meatheads rubs/brines, and have a 12-14lb bird, and a 4 rib standing roast. I'd like to dry brine 48 hours in advance, but wonder if they'll end up cured, rather than brined.


          Thanks to everyone who gave advice. Due to the size (26 lb) of the bird, I cut it into pieces (legs, thighs and wings) and spatchcocked the breast.

          Here is a pic of it going into the Chubby.

          Click image for larger version

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          After 2 hours, it had developed a nice color.

          Click image for larger version

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          It finished at about 3.5 hours. Nice smoke flavor without overwhelming.

          Click image for larger version

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          • grantgallagher
            grantgallagher commented
            Editing a comment
            Looks awesome!

          jlazar - Nice looking bird!

          Spatchcoking smaller birds and pieces for the larger ones has kind of been my mantra for years. Nobody really cares about that Norman Rockwell turkey on a platter much these days and I've traded that tradition for a new one, having all the parts cooked to perfection.


            Click image for larger version

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ID:	1132844 I spatchcocked two 25-26 lb birds and smoked them simultaneously in my Yoder 640. Best ever. Click image for larger version

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