Food Preparation,  Shopping For Meat,  Turkey

Differences Between A Turkey Crown, Butterfly & Spatchcock Turkey

When is comes to buying turkey, there are different cuts that you may not be familiar with. This article will explain what each cut is, and how they differ from each other.

So what is the difference between a turkey crown, butterfly and spatchcock turkey? A turkey crown is when the legs have been removed from a whole turkey, leaving you with the bone-in breast. A turkey butterfly is the same as the crown, but has had all the breast bones removed. A spatchcock turkey is a whole turkey that has been split down the back and flattened out like a book.

We will now look at each of these turkey cuts in greater detail so you can identify each one more easily.

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A Whole Turkey

Ok, just so we know where these different parts come from, let’s start at the beginning by showing the whole bird.

A whole turkey has the legs, breast and wing portions all attached, and resembles a larger version of the chickens you buy at the grocery store.

Cuts From A Whole Turkey
A Whole Turkey

Advantages of A Whole Turkey

  • Looks impressive as a table centrepiece
  • Provides both white and dark meat
  • Enough to feed a large gathering
  • Usually plenty of leftovers
  • Bones for making stock or soups

Disadvantages of A Whole Turkey

  • Longer cooking time
  • Wasteful if only serving white meat eater
  • Minimum 10lb size so lots of leftovers for small gatherings
  • Take up lots of oven and refrigerator space
  • 40% bone mass that cannot be eaten

A Turkey Crown

A turkey crown is basically a whole turkey that has just had the legs removed. The breast bones are still in tact, as are the wings, however some butchers do remove the wings as well as the legs.

A turkey crown is a great compromise for those people that like to serve a more traditional style turkey dinner, but have guests that only like to eat the white breast meat.

A Bone In Turkey Crown With Wings Attached

Advantages of a Turkey Crown

  • Good for white meat eaters
  • Impressive Table Centrepiece
  • Less Cooking Time Than Whole Turkey
  • Good Size For Smaller Gatherings
  • Bones for stock or soups

Disadvantages of a Turkey Crown

  • No dark meat
  • Can dry out if not cooked properly
  • 35% bone mass

A Turkey Breast Butterfly

A turkey Butterfly, AKA Turkey Butt, is when the turkey crown has all the bones removed to leave you with just the meat.

Depending on the size of the bird, the double breast may be tied together to form a single roast, or the breasts may have been separated to make a smaller roast.

The other advantage of the turkey butterfly is that the breasts can be cut down to any size roast that you need. Your butcher will normally be happy to cut a boneless turkey breast to whatever size you need to feed your family, meaning you have no waste or lots of leftovers to deal with.

Turkey butterfly has become a very popular cut over recent years due to the versatility in size, and also how much quicker it cooks than its bone-in counterpart.

A Boneless Turkey Breast Can Be Cut To Size With No Waste

Advantages of Boneless Turkey Butterfly

  • Can be cut to any size requirements
  • No waste
  • Shorter cooking time
  • Easy to carve
  • Usually cheaper to buy than bone-in meat

Disadvantages of Boneless Turkey Butterfly

  • Not so impressive table presence
  • No dark meat
  • No bones for stock or soups
  • Can be dry if overcooked

Spatchcock Turkey

A spatchcock turkey is a whole turkey that is slit lengthways down the back (spine) of the bird and then flattened out. Just to confuse things, this is also sometimes referred to as ‘butterflying’, however this is a whole turkey butterfly and not a turkey breast butterfly.

Spatchcocking allows for much faster cooking of the whole bird, saving up to 50% cooking time.

If you are buying a whole turkey from a butcher or independent meat market, they will be happy to spatchcock the bird on your behalf.

If you want to try it yourself, here is a video on how to easily spatchcock a turkey at home.

You can get some good quality poultry shears online if you want to do this at home. Here is a link to Amazon’s best selling heavy duty poultry shears.

Advantages of a Whole Spatchcock Turkey

  • Allows white and dark meat options
  • Cooks much faster than traditional turkey
  • Takes up less oven space

Disadvantages of a Whole Spatchcock Turkey

  • Requires a wide cooking tray
  • Not so impressive table centrepiece
  • Can be tricky to carve

Hopefully you will now be a little more informed as to the different types of turkey cuts you can buy to suit the needs of your family.

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