Spatchcocked Lemon Herb Roast Turkey

Meet your new go-to Thanksgiving Turkey recipe! This Spatchcocked Lemon Herb Roast Turkey is probably my favorite way to prepare a whole turkey. It’s super fast and fully of the most juicy, delicious flavor with very little effort! 
An overhead image of a carved turkey arranged on a serving platter with fresh herbs and lemons surrounding it.

Try some of my other awesome turkey recipes: Roast Turkey Thighs for Two, Orange Rosemary Whole Roast Turkey and Citrus Brown Sugar Smoked Turkey Breast.

Spatchcocked Lemon Herb Roast Turkey

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It’s that time of year again, and I’m not sad about it at all. I feel like I don’t cook Turkey enough throughout the year, because I love it. So when November rolls around, I’m ready to go. And I have to say, this may be my favorite turkey recipe yet! And that’s difficult to say since choosing favorite recipes of mine is like choosing a favorite child- it’s too hard to do!

But seriously, this recipe brings all the best things about roasting a turkey to the table:

  • Tender, juicy meat that’s evenly cooked.
  • Savory flavored meat and skin with a tiny bit of citrus to even things out.
  • Perfectly crispy skin all over.
  • Added bonus: quicker roasting time!

Add this to this year’s Thanksgiving menu, you will not regret it!

A roasted spatchcocked turkey in a roasting pan with herbs and lemons surrounding it.

Tips for how to roast a turkey the easy way

  • Spatchcock the turkey the day before. It will provide a much quicker roasting time and much more even cooking, so you can avoid overcooking it! I encourage you to have your butcher to it for you!
  • Save the backbone, wings, neck and giblets to make gravy!
  • Take the butter out the night before to soften to room temperature.
  • If you can, pat dry with paper towels and rest the turkey in the fridge uncovered the night before- this will help promote crispier skin.
  • Pull the turkey from the fridge 1 hour prior to roasting, to help it come closer to room temperature.
  • Rub the compound butter on the bottom and top of the bird, but also under the skin, that way your meat will have excellent flavor.
  • Place the bird on top of a greased metal rack in a large roasting pan.
  • Make sure you check the water in the bottom of the pan throughout roasting and add more if needed. You want the onions and garlic to caramelize, not burn! You can pour off the fat and add those drippings to your turkey gravy!
  • Keep an eye on the turkey and if any of the skin is getting dark too fast, cover that spot with aluminum foil.
  • Rest the turkey from the pan and place it on a large cutting board for 20-30 minutes before carving to redistribute the juices.
  • Check out this post with even more tips and tricks to cook a turkey.

Sliced turkey breast on a plate with gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Should I rinse my turkey?

No! As per the FDA website, “Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking. “Washing these foods makes it more likely for bacteria to spread to areas around the sink and countertops.”

How do you spatchcock a turkey?

I wrote an entire post explaining how to spatchcock turkey so you can do it yourself if you thaw your own frozen turkey.

Can I brine my turkey first?

You can, but I found that it wasn’t necessary for this recipe. If you are looking for a good brine recipe, check out the brine recipe in this post.

What if I want to keep the wings on the turkey instead of removing for gravy?

No problem! Just make sure you tuck the wingtips before roasting.

Do I really have to rest it before and after roasting?

Yes, resting prior helps bring the turkey close to room temperature and resting after allows crossover cooking and for the juices to redistribute. If you carve it before resting the juices will end up on your cutting board, not in the meat where you want it.

A close up on a roast turkey breast in a spatchcocked turkey in a pan.

How long to roast a turkey?

Although this generally takes around 90 minutes (which will vary, as every bird is different,) I strongly encourage you to cook by temperature not cook times.

How do you tell when the turkey is done?

You’ll want to cook it until the roast turkey temperature at the thickest part of the breast is 161 degrees. It will continue cooking as it rests and come up to 165 degrees. Use a digital thermometer and check the temperature a few times throughout cooking.

Should I baste the turkey?

I don’t think it’s necessary for this recipe.

How do you thaw a turkey?

Move the turkey into the refrigerator in advance to cooking based on the weight- you’ll want to plan on 24 hours for every 5 pounds.

How big of a turkey should I get?

I always plan for around 1 pound of meat per person, since you’re taking into account the amount of bones that add weight to the turkey.

Can I use dried herbs?

I encourage you to use fresh, but if dried are your only option you can add 3/4 teaspoon of the dried herbs of your choice.

How do I carve it?

I have full directions for carving a turkey in this post.

A close up image of a turkey leg on a spatchcocked turkey in a roasting pan.

Ingredients for this roast turkey recipe

  • Fresh turkey, spatchcocked
  • Butter
  • Lemon Zest
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Fresh poultry herbs (I used Thyme, Rosemary and Sage)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Water

The top aprt of a spatchcocked turkey in a roasting pan.

Ingredients to prep ahead:

Helpful tools:

  1. Chef’s knife or Kitchen shears
  2. Cutting board
  3. Roasting Pan
  4. Thermometer

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An overhead image of a roasted spatchcocked turkey in a roasting pan surrounded by fresh herbs and lemons and orange and grey plaid napkins.

Spatchcocked Lemon Herb Roast Turkey
Prep Time
1 d 10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Resting time
1 hr 25 mins
Total Time
1 d 3 hrs 5 mins

Meet your new go-to Thanksgiving Turkey recipe! This Spatchcocked Lemon Herb Roast Turkey is probably my favorite way to prepare a whole turkey. It's super fast and fully of the most juicy, delicious flavor with very little effort! 

Course: dinner, Main, Main Course, Main dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: roast turkey
Author: Jessy Freimann, The Life Jolie
  • 1 whole 11-14 pound raw turkey
  • spatchcocked
  • 1 cup salted butter, 2 sticks softened to room temperature
  • Zest of 1 large lemon (or two small lemons)
  • 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh herbs (I used fresh sage, fresh thyme and fresh rosemary)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 large onions cut into large chunks
  • 3-4 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh herbs I used fresh sage, fresh thyme and fresh rosemary
  1. Remove spatchcocked turkey from refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking to bring it closer to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle position.

  2. In a small bowl mix butter, lemon zest, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and minced herbs until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Place onions, garlic and sprigs of fresh herbs in the bottom of a roasting pan. Then pour in 2-3 cups water into the bottom of the pan (start with 2 and add another if needed- you want the water to cover the bottom of the pan without touching the turkey once it's on the rack).
  4. Place a rack into the pan and spray with cooking spray.
  5. Begin by rubbing 1/3 of the butter mixture onto the bottom of the spatchcock turkey.
  6. Place the turkey, buttered side down onto the rack.
  7. Use your hands to go under the turkey skin and carefully separate it from the meat underneath. Rub 1/3 of the butter mixture under the skin on the breast, thigh and drum meat.
  8. Rub the remaining butter mixture all over the top of the turkey skin.
  9. Place the turkey into the oven. Plan on checking the turkey every 30 minutes to make sure the skin isn't getting too brown and the liquid in the bottom of the pan hasn't evaporated.

  10. Roast until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast meat is 161 degrees (the internal temperature of the thigh meat will be around 180 degrees). This usually takes around 1 1/2 hours depending on the size, but go by temperature.
  11. Once the turkey has reached 161 degrees, remove from the oven and place on a large cutting board to rest for 25-30 minutes. You may cover with foil if you prefer, but the skin won't be as crispy if you do.
  12. Carve the turkey and serve with gravy on the side.
Recipe Notes

If needed, add additional water to the pan. Add a piece of foil to cover spots on the skin if they are getting too brown.

If you tried this recipe please comment and rate it 🙂 I love hearing your feedback and answering your questions! And if you make this please tag me on Instagram with @thelifejolie so I can share it <3

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