Spatchocked chicken is a great way to cook a whole bird. Not only do you get an even cook, but it’s a much quicker process! Read on to learn how to spatchcock a chicken.

Spatchcocked chicken on a baking sheet.

 

This Is the Ultimate Way to Cook a Whole Chicken.

When it comes to roasting a whole chicken, spatchcocking is the way.

When you roast a chicken whole, some parts, like the breasts, cook faster than others. By the time your legs and thighs are cooked, your breasts will have lost that sought-after juiciness and tenderness.

But when you spatchcock a chicken? The whole bird cooks evenly—and in less time!

What Is a Spatchcocked Chicken?

To put it simply, a spatchcocked chicken is a chicken that’s split open and cooked.

You’re basically butterflying the chicken by removing the backbone with kitchen shears, flipping it over, and pressing the chicken down into an even layer. This ensures an even cooking time for all parts—breasts, thighs, and legs.

Useful Tools You’ll Need:

Baking sheet with whole chicken being pat dry with paper towels.

Whole chicken being cut along backbone with kitchen shears.

Spatchcocked chicken without backbone being flattened on a baking sheet.

Here’s How to Spatchcock a Chicken.

  1. Remove any packaged gizzards or pouches from the cavity of the chicken.
  2. Place the chicken onto a baking sheet breast-side down.
  3. Gently pat the chicken all over with paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
  4. With the chicken breast-side down, look for the base of the backbone at the opening of the cavity of the bird.
  5. With your kitchen shears, cut along the side of the backbone until the end, then cut along the other side of the backbone to detach it completely. It’s normal to have to give some force at times since you’re cutting through bone. You’ll also hear crunch-like sounds, which is normal.
  6. Once you remove the backbone, you can store it safely for chicken stock instead of discarding it completely!
  7. With the backbone removed, carefully flip the chicken over and press down firmly on the breast bone to flatten the chicken into an even layer. You may hear the breastbone pop—that’s okay.
  8. Turn the thighs/legs outward.
  9. Oil it up, season it, cook it, and enjoy!

Put these skills to use with my Lemon Herb Spatchcocked Chicken!

How to Cook a Spatchcocked Chicken.

You can grill or roast a spatchcocked chicken! You could probably even pop one into the air fryer, honestly. I haven’t tried that yet, but it’s on my list, so I’ll come back to report.

Roasting

  • Preheat the oven to 475º F.
  • Oil and season the. bird well—I like to let mine sit and marinate at room temperature for an hour or so (you can safely let your poultry sit out at room temperature for two hours, according to the USDA).
  • Pop it into the oven for about 40 minutes.

Grilling

  • Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  • Generously brush the grates with high-heat oil, like pure olive oil.
  • Once the grill reaches temperature, place your oiled and seasoned chicken onto the grates skin side down. Cook it until the skin is golden and crispy; this should take about 5 minutes.
  • Bring the heat to low and carefully flip the chicken over. Grill the chicken until all of the skin is golden and crisped and a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165º F. This entire process should take about 45 minutes.

Baking sheet with raw whole chicken next to kitchen shears, seasoning, lemon halves, and fresh herbs.

Have You Tried Spatchcocking a Chicken?

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Spatchcocked chicken on a baking sheet.

Get the Recipe:

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

Spatchocked chicken is a great way to cook a whole bird. Not only do you get an even cook, but it's a much quicker process! Read on to learn how to spatchcock a chicken.
5 from 49 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 5 lb whole chicken

Equipment

  • Kitchen shears
  • Baking Sheet
  • Paper towels

Instructions 

  • Remove and discard any packaged gizzards or pouches from the cavity of the chicken. (Or save them for chicken stock).
  • Transfer the chicken onto a baking sheet breast-side down.
  • Pat the chicken gently with paper towels to get rid of any excess moisture.
  • Make sure the chicken is breast-side down. Look for the base of the backbone at the opening of the bird. Now with your kitchen shears, cut along the side of the backbone until the end of it. Then cut along the other side of the backbone to remove it completely. You may have to give it some force since you're cutting through cartilage; crunching sounds are also to be expected.
  • After removing the backbone, store it safely for chicken stock instead of throwing it out!
  • With the backbone removed, carefully flip the chicken over and press down firmly on the breast bone to flatten the chicken into an even layer. You may hear the breastbone pop—that's normal; turn the thighs/legs outward.
  • Oil and season the bird, cook it, and enjoy!