Spatchcock Jerk Turkey: An Irresistible Caribbean Twist for Thanksgiving

Roasted Jerk Turkey on a platter ready for Thanksgiving

A few years ago, I decided to bring a taste of the Caribbean to my Thanksgiving celebration. I took all the usual Thanksgiving ingredients and dishes and gave them a Caribbean twist. That’s when I discovered Spatchcock Jerk Turkey, a jerk-marinated turkey roasted to tender perfection in half the time of traditional turkey. It was so flavorful and succulent that it instantly became a staple in my Thanksgiving menu. Let me tell you why you’ll love this Jerk Turkey recipe and how to make it yourself!

Why You’ll Love This Jerk Turkey Recipe

  • Perfect for the Holidays: Spice up your Thanksgiving turkey with this Caribbean twist! The combination of jerk marinade and traditional Thanksgiving flavors will make your taste buds dance with delight.
  • Spatchcocked: Cooking a whole turkey has never been easier and quicker! Spatchcocking the turkey reduces the cooking time significantly and ensures that every piece of the jerk turkey has crispy skin and cooks evenly.
  • Easy: If this is your first time making a whole turkey, this recipe is a great introduction. It comes with simple instructions and a step-by-step guide to make your cooking experience a breeze.

Roasted Jerk Turkey on a platter ready for Thanksgiving

What is Spatchcock Turkey?

Spatchcocked turkey is a turkey with the backbone removed, allowing it to lay flat on a surface. This technique makes it easier to cook the whole bird evenly and ensures juicy and tender meat.

Ingredients for Jerk Turkey

To make this flavorful jerk turkey, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Turkey: Choose a turkey that weighs 10-12 lbs.
  • All-purpose flour: Use cassava flour if you’re following a Whole30 diet.
  • Butter: Substitute with ghee if you’re following a Whole30 diet.

For the Dry Rub:

  • Brown sugar (skip if on Whole30)
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Salt (iodized sea salt or coarse salt)

For the Jerk Marinade:

  • Store-bought jerk seasoning or homemade jerk seasoning (check the recipe card for quantities)

How to Make Jerk Turkey

How to Spatchcock a Turkey

Dry rub seasoning blend for spatchcock turkey

To spatchcock the turkey, start by cutting out the backbone using a pair of kitchen shears. Then, make a slit in the breast bone using the same shears. Flip the turkey over (breast side up) and press firmly on the breast to flatten it. Here’s a quick video to demonstrate the process.

Wash the Turkey

After spatchcocking the turkey, coat it with 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour to remove any gamey taste. Let it sit for 15 minutes before washing off the flour. Then, bathe the turkey with the juice of two lemons and let it sit for another 15 minutes before washing it again. These steps will ensure a delicious turkey without the gamey flavor.

Make a Dry Rub for the Jerk Turkey

Seasoned raw spatchcock jerk turkey

Create a dry rub by combining brown sugar, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Rub half of the mixture generously over the inside of the turkey.

Seasoned spatchcock jerk turkey

Adding the Jerk Seasoning

Add the jerk marinade (either store-bought or homemade) to the turkey. Make sure to rub it in every nook and cranny, including under the skin, for maximum flavor. For a spicier jerk flavor, add more pepper or use habanero peppers instead.

Spatchcock Jerk Turkey

Baking the Jerk Turkey

Roast the turkey uncovered at 400°F for the first hour. Rotate the pan halfway through to ensure even browning. After an hour, baste the turkey using a turkey baster and cover it with foil. Reduce the heat to 375°F and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the breast reads at least 165°F.

Spatchcock Jerk Turkey

Getting the Jerk Turkey from the Pan to the Table

As the jerk turkey is incredibly tender, you might need some extra hands to move it from the pan to a serving dish. The turkey can be served directly in the roasting pan for a rustic presentation.


If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, store them in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days. Leftover jerk turkey can be used in sandwiches, salads, breakfast hash, and more!

Making this Jerk Turkey Whole30 Compatible

To make this turkey Whole30 compatible:

  1. Skip the brown sugar in the dry rub and ensure all other spices are Whole30 compliant.
  2. Use the homemade jerk seasoning provided or find a compatible store-bought brand.
  3. Replace the butter used to baste the turkey with ghee.

Tips for the Best Spatchcock Turkey

  • Wash the turkey with flour to remove any gamey taste.
  • Let the turkey marinate in the refrigerator overnight for maximum flavor.
  • Bring the turkey to room temperature at least 2 hours before baking to ensure even cooking and crispy skin.
  • Just before baking, add butter or ghee to the breasts for extra moisture and flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Jerk Turkey spicy?
Jerk turkey has a moderate level of spiciness. You can adjust the heat by adding or reducing the amount of pepper in the jerk seasoning.

Why is spatchcocking a turkey better?
Spatchcocking allows for more even cooking, ensuring both the white and dark meat reach the ideal temperature simultaneously. It also reduces the cooking time and results in crispy, golden-brown skin all over the turkey.

How much faster does a spatchcocked turkey cook?
By spatchcocking your turkey, you can cut the cooking time in half. Instead of the typical 3 hours, this spatchcock jerk turkey can be made in just 1.5 hours.

Now that you have all the information, it’s time to try this delicious Spatchcock Jerk Turkey recipe for your Thanksgiving feast. Your family and friends will be impressed by the Caribbean flavors infused into this holiday classic. Enjoy and happy cooking!

BDK Restaurant

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