Chili Crisp Butter Spatchcock Turkey

published Nov 14, 2023
Chili Crisp Turkey Recipe

This turkey recipe uses a chili crisp compound butter to keep the bird juicy and moist.

Serves8 to 10

Prep40 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes

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Overhead shot of a carved turkey resting on herbs and lemons on a white platter.
Credit: Photographer: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

I’m on a personal mission to prove that chili crisp belongs on everything — even turkey! I mean, think about it: We know it goes so well with rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, and even steamed chicken (based on my personal research). So why not bring the magic of chili crisp to turkey this Thanksgiving season? The results are just as savory, delicious, and magical as you think.

Should I Spatchcock a Turkey?

For my chili crisp turkey, I highly recommend spatchcocking a turkey. Spatchcocking is a simple technique of removing the backbone of a whole bird, such as a chicken or turkey, so it lies flat. It’s super easy to do, but you can always ask your local butcher to do it for you.

Here are a few reasons why spatchcocking is ideal — especially for a turkey. 

  • Because the backbone of the turkey is removed, you can get started with making the gravy in advance, using the backbone, neck bone, and any turkey giblets. 
  • Spatchcocking a turkey cuts the cooking time in half. Usually, roasting a whole turkey will take up to 3 hours, but a spatchcocked turkey will only need to roast for an hour and 15 minutes. 
  • The bird lies flat when roasting, which lets you maximize the amount of crispy skin. 
Credit: Photographer: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Should I Brine First?

This is the big question when it comes to preparing a turkey. While you can do a wet brine (which keeps the bird in salt water and helps lock in moisture and flavor), the best and the easiest way to guarantee an absolutely juicy turkey is to dry brine it by rubbing it with a flavorful salt mixture.

Here, I use an herb-salt mixture that combines herbs like fresh rosemary and sage leaves with kosher salt. Rubbing the mixture all over the turkey a few hours before roasting dries out the skin, resulting in a wonderfully crispy skin, while keeping the meat extra juicy once it’s roasted. Because I call for only three tablespoons of kosher salt, you don’t have to rinse the turkey after brining.

What Temperature Do You Cook a Spatchcock Turkey?

I highly recommend starting at a high temperature of 450ºF for the first 30 minutes to get the skin super crispy and juicy. Then, bring the temperature down to 400ºF to finish cooking the turkey for 40 to 45 minutes. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest part of the breast registers at least 150ºF and the center of the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone registers at least 165ºF. Take carry-over cooking into consideration and make sure to check the doneness after 30 minutes at 400ºF, then continue cooking until it reaches the proper temperature. 

How to Make Chili Crisp Turkey

  • Spatchcock the turkey. The easiest, most foolproof way to make a juicy, stunning bird.
  • Dry-brine the turkey. The herb-salt mixture not only flavors the bird, but also keeps it moist.
  • Make the chili crisp compound butter. This is what makes the turkey so flavorful. It has lemon zest, chili crisp, and compound butter, which keeps the skin so flavorful.
  • Roast the turkey. Decreasing the oven temperature from an initial temperature of 450ºF to 400ºF will yield crispy skin and juicy meat.
  • Carve your bird and serve. Don’t forget to let your turkey rest before carving. When you’re ready, here’s an easy way to carve a turkey
Credit: Photographer: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Chili Crisp Turkey Recipe

This turkey recipe uses a chili crisp compound butter to keep the bird juicy and moist.

Prep time 40 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • 1 sprig

    fresh rosemary

  • 5

    fresh sage leaves

  • 4 tablespoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 (8 to 11-pound)

    whole unbrined turkey, thawed if frozen

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick)

    unsalted butter

  • 5

    medium lemons, divided

  • 2/3 cup

    chili crisp, divided

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 3

    medium leeks


  1. Pick the leaves from 1 fresh rosemary sprig and finely chop (about 1 1/2 teaspoons). Finely chop 5 fresh sage leaves (about 1 tablespoon). Place both herbs in a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the kosher salt, and stir to combine.

  2. Spatcock the turkey: Remove the neck and giblets, or save for another use. Pat the cavity and the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels and place breast-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, then remove the backbone; discard or save the backbone for making turkey stock. Flip the turkey over. Firmly push down on the center part of the turkey breast until you hear the breast bone crack and the turkey lies flat.

  3. Season both sides of the turkey evenly with the herb mixture both over and under the skin. Position breast-side up. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

  4. When ready to cook the turkey, arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven, remove any racks above it, and heat the oven to 450ºF. Meanwhile, place 1 stick unsalted butter in a small bowl and let sit at room temperature until softened.

  5. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 teaspoon) into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add 1/3 cup of the chili crisp and the remaining 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Pulse until combined, 2 to 3 (1-second) pulses. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of butter. Using a flexible spatula, smash and stir together until combined. (If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the chili crisp, then just stir together with the butter, lemon zest, and salt.)

  6. Cut the zested lemon plus 1 medium lemon crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Peel and roughly chop 1 medium yellow onion into big chunks. Coarsely chop the white and light green parts of 3 medium leeks. Scatter the lemon, onion, and leeks across the bottom of a large rimmed baking sheet.

  7. Rub the chili crisp butter all over the turkey (skin and bone sides). Place the turkey skin-side up on top of the vegetables.

  8. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400ºF. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest part of the breast registers at least 150ºF and the center of the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone registers at least 165ºF, 40 to 45 minutes more.

  9. Let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. (You can use the roasted veggies and pan dripping under the bird for gravy.) Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of the remaining 3 medium lemons into a small bowl. Juice the zested lemons until you have 3 tablespoons and add to the bowl. Add the remaining 1/3 cup chili crisp and stir to combine.

  10. Carve the turkey and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle all over with the chili crisp mixture.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead:The chili crisp butter can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Let sit at room temperature until softened before using.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months.