The Great Debate: Spatchcock vs. Deep Fried

  • By:Kyle Hankins
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First, I know that most of you are giggling at the term “Spatchcock.” Nothing to be ashamed of, I also released an adolescent giggle the first time I heard the term. To be honest, I am giggling right now. Haha, ok moving on.

If the title of this post is confusing, I am talking about turkey. Spatchcocking and deep frying are two of the tastier methods of preparing your families bird. Thanksgiving is freshly over, and I would like to talk about my experiences with both.

For a little background, I think of myself as a bit of a deep fried turkey pro and connoisseur. A few years ago I was given a butterball turkey deep fryer by my brother in law, and I have been frying them birds multiple times a year since. So good. More on that later. I only recently heard of spatchcocking because my wife’s office had a Thanksgiving lunch and her coworker mentioned that he was cooking two separate birds the same day as the lunch. I didn’t think that was possible, so he pointed me here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/11/how-to-spatchcock-cook-turkey-thanksgiving-fast-easy-way-spatchcocked.html

After reading the serious eats article, I knew I only had one option: cook two birds and do a taste test, TO THE DEATH!!


Spatchcock – If you have never cut the spine out of a large turkey you are not missing anything. As an individual who has never really done any butchering, it wasn’t the best part of Thanksgiving. You have to get hands on to yank and cut that thing out. It was not super fun, and I cut the bejeezus out of my finger, so please be careful.

After the spine is cut out, you flatten the bird out over a tray of vegetables. Then you dry brine it by rubbing salt and spices on the exposed parts, and then leaving it uncovered in your fridge for three (3!) days. It does start to look a little crazy after about 24 hours, but you just have to believe that it is supposed to turn that color.

Deep Fried – Thaw bird. This is super important, because if you try to fry a frozen bird you are going to have a bad time. Like, burn your house down bad time. Rinse the bird and then brine for at least 24 hours. I like to use Martha Stewards brine recipe, until this year its really the only one I have tried.


Spatchcock – The recipe calls for a high oven temp (450) so laying the bird on a bed of veggies is important if you do not wish to smoke out your kitchen. The veggies will steam and keep any of the bird drippings from scorching on the pan. Also, they are delicious. I had a 12-pound bird, and it took about 80 minutes to cook to arrive at an overall temp of 170.

Deep Fried – as the oil in the frier heats up, use paper towels to dry the bird as much as possible and cram into the fryer basket. I usually by a bird that is a bit to big, so if you are like me take this time to cut out some more neck or tail bone to make the bird fit. Once the oil is ready, and the bird is in the basket, SLOWLY lower the basket into the oil. The noises the oil will make will likely make you think you are about to die a firey and painful death at any second, but as long as the bird is thawed and dry you should be fine. Once the bird is lowered, close the lit and wait 3 to 4 minutes per pound. I have found that I usually just go with 4 minutes per pound, as even if it is slightly over cooked it is still crazy juicy and delicious.

Post Cook

Spatchcock – Pull the bird out of the oven when at temp, then slice it up and place the pieces on your turkey platter. The bird will only need to sit for a few minutes before it is cool enough to handle for slicing.

Deep Fried – Pull the basket from the fryer and allow at least 15 minutes for the crazy hot oil to drain out of the bird. Even after 15 minutes, the bird might be too hot to handle without gloves. Once is it cool enough to cut, slice it up and place it on your turkey platter for serving.


Winner – Deep Fried

I have to say the the spatchcocked bird was the best oven cooked bird I have ever enjoyed, and it was the easiest oven cooked bird I have ever prepared. But, the deep fried bird is hands down more juicy, more flavorful, and prepared more quickly than the spatchcocked bird.

If you have the option of deep frying, do it. But if you need to use the oven, spatchcocking your bird will produce some of the best tasting and easily prepared turkey you have ever tried.

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