Chipotle Brined Grilled Butterflied Turkey

Chipotle Brined Grilled Butterflied Turkey

A tryptophan coma just waiting to happen.
Eater rating: 4.5 / 5  4.5

We’re eating grilled butterflied turkey that was brined in a mixture flavored with chipotle in adobo puree, epazote, cumin, chile powder, garlic and mexican oregano to ensure flavorful juicy meat.

So what if I’m not posting my turkey recipe until after Thanksgiving! Get off my back, yo! You can always use this recipe for Christmas… or Turkey Day next year or in the middle of summer during grilling season!

Apparently a technique that I’ve always known as “butterflying” is trendy under a different name – Spatchcock. Spatchcocking and butterflying a turkey (or any fowl) are really the same: you simply cut out the back bone of the bird then crack the breast bone so the bird can lay completely flat (essential for even cooking!). Here’s a video for those of you (like me) that are visual learners. Watch and learn. This technique is a great time saver and cuts the cooking process in half. If you know me, you know I can be one lazy ho, so the less time I have to spend tending to the bird the better.

After butterflying our bird, I submerged it into a Mexican chipotle spiced brine to sit overnight to give it some flavor. The day of our feast I just patted it dry, seasoned the skin, then seared both sides over high heat on the grill before putting it into its final resting place: an aluminum roasting pan on the grill over indirect heat. All in all, I think the cooking process took me about 2 hours and produced fantastically moist and smokey turkey. Next time you have a reason for a feast, why not try spatchcocking your bird and throwing it on the grill?

A Grilled Turkey Recipe, by Amanda
Chipotle Brined Grilled Butterflied Turkey

For the Brine:
1 quart boiling hot water
2 cups salt
1/2 cup sugar
7 quarts cold water
1 can chipotle in adobo, pureed
1/4 cup ground cumin
2 tbsp dried epazote (can omit if unable to find)
2 tbsp chile powder
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp mexican oregano
3 tbsp paprika

1 approximately 11-14lb turkey
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 aluminum roasting pan.

melted butter, for basting

Add the salt and sugar to the boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Place the seasoned water into an extra large stock pot. The pot needs to be big enough to hold 8 quarts of water plus the turkey. Add the rest of the ingredients for the brine to the pot. Mix well. Allow the brine to come to room temperature. Depending on how cold your water was you may not need to wait at all.

Remove the neck and internal organs from the cavity of the turkey. Discard or save for another use. Using sharp poultry shears cut out the back-bone of the turkey. Once the backbone has been removed flip the bird over, breast-side up. On a solid surface, press down firmly on the bird to crack the breast bone and allow the turkey to lay flat. If necessary, you can use poultry shears to assist in breaking the breast bone. (Here's the video for this process once again.)

Completely submerge the butterflied turkey into the room temperature brine. Put a lid on the pot or cover with plastic wrap then place entire pot into the refrigerator. Allow the turkey to sit in the brine, refrigerated, for 12-18 hours.

1 hour before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine and place on a wire rack over a sheet pan at room temperature. Allow the bird to drip dry and come to room temperature. After 50 minutes, pat the bird dry with paper towels. Coat all surfaces of the turkey with oil then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

While the bird is resting at room temperature, prepare the grill. Prepare 1/2 of the grill for cooking over high heat and leave 1/2 of the grill for indirect cooking. If desired, you can use soaked wood chips in a smoker box or aluminum packet to add an extra smokey flavor.

Place the aluminum roasting pan on the side of the grill without heat (for indirect grilling).

Once the grill is hot place the seasoned butterflied turkey skin-side down on the HOT sided of the grill. Grill the turkey over high heat for about 6-8 minutes until the skin starts to crisp and nice grill marks have been seared in. Using two sets of tongs or your hands inside of rubber cooking mits, flip the bird. Allow the flesh side to cook over the high heat for another 6-8 minutes until it too has nice grill marks.

After the bird has been marked on both sides, carefully place it skin-side up into the aluminum pan off of the direct heat. Place an internal digital thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh, not touching any bones. If your thermometer has an alarm set it for 168 degrees. Shut the lid to the grill. Try to maintain a temperature inside the dome of the grill of about 350-375 degrees.

Allow the turkey to roast on the grill over indirect heat until an internal temperature of about 168 has been reached, basting with melted butter and rotating the aluminum pan 180 degrees every 20 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the bird so USE A THERMOMETER! Once the desired internal temperature has been reached, remove the pan with the bird from the grill. Loosely cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes so that the juices can be redistributed throughout the meat. To slice first remove the drumstick and thigh in order to better access the breast meat. Slice as desired. Enjoy!

5 comments so far:

  1. Do you know if you can brine with Splenda, or is there something about the chemical reaction of the sugar? Always wondered that.

  2. Amanda says:

    you know, kalyn, i have no clue! i haven’t really consumed much splenda let alone cooked with it. can you eat agave syrup on the south beach diet? i’m sure you could sub agave syrup for the butter if so…. or just leave out the sweetener all together. brine doesn’t really need sweetener.

  3. ed says:


    I really appreciate the sense of humor you have in your menu writing skills. I would like to use your expertise in some menu writing.You game.. contact me

    ed glebus

  4. William Pate says:

    Great Recipe! I doubled the recipe – minus half the water for an 18 pound bird. Perfect to add some spice to the Christmas Feast…thanks!

  5. Deborah Dowd says:

    I stocked up on turkeys when they were cheap and I can’t wait to try this for a Sunday company dinner- sounds amazing!!