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Cranberry Glazed Butterfly Turkey

Moist, roast turkey glazed with cranberry orange sauce.

The Sauce: Cranberry Orange Glaze – Fruity, sweet aromatic sauce thick enough to cling to the turkey, this poultry glaze accelerates the flavor of the crisping skin, adds a rosy hue and makes a glossy presentation. The herbaceous rosemary balances the full-flavored cranberry and orange sauce.



Recently while driving I tuned to NPR and discovered the host was interviewing Alton Brown about how to cook a turkey. My ears perked and I cranked the volume up so I could hear over the noisy hum of Washington, DC street traffic. Besides explaining that most cooks sacrifice the bird for crisp skin and moist stuffing, he said he cooks about 20 turkeys a year. That surprised me. I do have a sister who roasts off a turkey once a month so that’s 12 a year. Anyway, the host asked Alton how he cooks them and he said ‘spatchcocked’. A new term for me, I discovered it’s actually another term for butterflying. It’s especially good for grilling poultry so it cooks faster but a very successful way to roast turkey as well.

Cranberry-Glazed-Butterfly-TurkeyI’ve butterflied chicken, before but never attempted a turkey. I decided right then and there it was on my ‘to do’ list. I found it takes more strength than a chicken but within reach. The thing is, a few more minutes to cut and flatten out the turkey saves a couple hours of cooking time. Love it!! The cranberry orange sauce is painted generously over the crisping skin during the last few minutes. It’s succulent, gorgeous and holiday worthy.

2011 AniversaRecipe – German Pancakes

Recipe: Cranberry Orange Butterfly Turkey

Prep Time: 25 Min | Inactive Time: 20 Min | Cook Time: 1 Hour 40 Min | Yield: 8 Servings | Level: Moderate


  • 1 12 lb turkey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oilCranberry-juice-orange-juice-orange-marmalade
  • Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 3/4 cup frozen cranberry juice concentrate
  • 3/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 6 Tbsp orange marmalade
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups of chicken stock

Special Equipment – large roasting pan or baking sheet

1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2 Wash and dry the turkey then butterfly (see note below for instructions).

season-the-turkey3 Lay the flattened turkey with the skin side up in a roasting pan or baking sheet and fold in the wing tips. Rub olive oil over the skin. Season with salt and pepper.

4 Place the turkey in the oven and roast uncovered for 80 minutes.

Cranberry Orange Sauce
5 Meanwhile scoop the frozen concentrated juices into a small saucepan. Add the marmalade and rosemary.

6 Heat to a boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes whisking frequently until the sauce reduces and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

7 Take the turkey out of the oven and use a brush to paint the turkey with the cranberry orange sauce. Pour the chicken stock into the bottom of the pan. Place the turkey back in the oven and continue roasting for about 20 more minutes until the turkey juices run clear when poked in the thickest part or it reads 165 degrees on a thermometer.

8 Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes then carve.

9 Meanwhile, use the turkey drippings and stock to make gravy. Place the remaining Cranberry Orange Sauce in a small bowl and pass for dipping.

butterflying-a-turkeyTo butterfly a turkey, use heavy kitchen scissors or a sharp knife.
-Place the turkey with the breast side down.
-Cut along one side of the backbone cutting through the small rib bones. Cut through the other side removing the long backbone completely from the turkey.
-With the skin side down, lay the turkey open and split the cartilage around the breast bone with the scissors. Pull out the bone and cartilage.
lay-the-turkey-flat-Lay the turkey open pressing down to flatten it a bit.

A butterflied turkey cooks in much less time than a whole turkey. It also stays more moist since it’s exposed to the oven heat for less time. It’s easy to baste. The skin becomes a beautiful golden brown.

Butterfly several cornish game hens, roast and paint with cranberry orange sauce.

Once the turkey is butterflied, cut the turkey in half along the breast bone to speed the cooking process. Or cut it in 6 parts.

Try other basting glazes. A favorite is 1 part soy sauce and 1 part molasses. For a small turkey, a couple of tablespoons of each is plenty.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange turkey for two 5-7 pound roasting chickens.

Inspiration – Alton Brown and Giada De Laurentiis
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: December 20, 2012

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One Response to Cranberry Glazed Butterfly Turkey

  1. Audrey December 21, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    The difference between moist and dry turkey is like the difference between a sun tan and a sunburn. This butterfly method really heightens the odds that your turkey will come out moist. I really love this recipe but the hidden surprise is not just the moist turkey but the fabulous cranberry orange glaze. After I tried it, I had a hard time not eating my turkey with the glaze. Fabulous.

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