Gatherings Gluten-Free Kitchen Main Dish Thanksgiving Turkey Winter Holidays

Crispy Juicy Oven-Roasted Turkey Parts

By Chris Capell

Serving a beautiful whole Turkey is what most folks expect on the Thanksgiving table, and it sure is pretty sitting on that platter ready to carve. It’s what most of us grew up with.

But there is a problem here. It’s truly a challenge to get the dark meat properly done before the breast is overcooked. The dark meat on the legs might not pull cleanly off the bone, and the breast meat could be dry and tough.

My preferred method over the years is to spatchcock, or butterfly, the bird so it lays flat. The dark meat gets exposed to much more heat this way, and almost every time the breast is perfectly moist, and the dark meat pulls cleanly. Here’s how I make a Spatchcocked Turkey.

Because it is not always practical to cook turkey on a charcoal grill, I set out to create an oven-roasted turkey recipe that everyone can cook at home.

My Approach to Perfectly Cooked Turkey

Since a whole spatchcocked bird is too large for most ovens, this recipe involves deconstructing the bird first. The backbone, neck and giblets can be used to make stock for gravy, and the legs, breast and wings can be cooked until they are perfectly done, and removed to rest.

Brining is optional, but recommended for moisture and flavor. I have found that even turkeys that have been treated with a solution benefit from brining.


Print Recipe

Brine (optional)

  • 1 1/3 cup Mad Max Turkey Brine mix (or make your own with 2/3 cup coarse Koasher Salt and 1/2 cup light brown sugar)
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 brine bag and zip tie(get the brine bag and zip tie for free when you purchase our Turkey Kit)


Make Brine

  1. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil.
  2. Add brine ingredients and stir until dissolved.
  3. Simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Mix with 3 quarts cold water and cool to below 40°F.

Deconstruct turkey

  1. First, remove the wings from turkey.
  2. Next, remove the legs and thighs.
  3. Then cut out the backbone and reserve.
  4. Flatten breast by pressing with the palm of your hand.

Brine Turkey

  1. Add turkey pieces and brine to brine bag. As you close the brine bag, squeeze air out so brine is fully surrounding turkey. Secure with zip tie.
  2. Keep below 40°F and brine for 12 hours.
  3. Remove turkey parts from brine and let drip dry, then pat down with paper towels.

Roast Turkey

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Position the upper rack in the top third of the oven, and the lower rack so that it fits the roasting pan.
  2. Melt half of the stick of butter and brush all over skin.
  3. Season with Mad Max Turkey Seasoning on all sides.
  4. Place wire rack on baking sheet pan and lay out turkey legs and wings on rack, skin side up.
  5. Cut the remaining half stick of butter into slices and place in roasting pan to help build the gravy.
  6. Spread out onion, celery and apples in roasting pan.
  7. Cook at 425°F for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Remove roasting pan from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  9. Optionally, baste turkey with pan drippings released during cooking.
  10. Return to oven and cook until the thickest part of breast reads 150°F, and dark meat is 170°F. Remove each part and rest when the desired temperature is reached.
  11. Discard veggies, and reserve pan drippings for gravy.


  1. Thirty minutes before serving, preheat oven to 475°F.
  2. Return turkey to oven on wire rack/pan and cook for 10-15 minutes to crisp skin.
  3. Remove from oven.
  4. Pull dark meat from legs and thighs. There is a lot of flavor on the outside of the skin! So I like to pull the skin off, and use the outside of the skin to transfer the flavors to meat while pulling. Arrange pulled dark meat on platter.
  5. For an extra flavor blast, you can chop the skin finely and mix in with the pulled dark meat.
  6. Then remove all breast meat (with skin attached) from carcass and slice so that each slice has a piece of skin.
  7. Arrange on platter and serve!