Ultimate Guide: How To Spatchcock Chicken


In today’s tutorial, we’re going to reveal our Ultimate Guide: How To Spatchcock Chicken. We will give you everything you need to know to be successful.

If you’d like to learn the benefits and the process of how to spatchcock chicken, we’ll share our process. And the result is a perfectly laid flat whole chicken that is deliciously oven roasted or cooked on the grill. It is the absolute best way to cook a whole chicken and we’ll explain why. Once you try it, you’ll come back to this process over and over.

spatchcock chicken

Why you’ll love this recipe:

Spatchcock chicken is a favorite recipe because the end result is deliciously flavorful chicken that is moist on the inside and golden, crispy skin on the outside. It’s also easy to prepare. Once you’ve prepped the chicken, it’s as simple as placing it in the oven and waiting for it to reach perfection.

What Is Spatchcocking?

What Is Spatchcock Chicken? Spatchcocking is the process of preparing a whole chicken to lay flat for cooking. It involves cutting out the backbone of the chicken.

What is Spatchcock Chicken?

Have you ever wished you could grill or roast a whole chicken and make it lay flat so that it cooks evenly and more rapidly? Well, now you can. Stay tuned and we’ll show you how to spatchcock a chicken.

Why Spatchcocking is Worth It?

If you’re planning a whole roasted or grilled chicken dinner, spatchcocking your chicken before cooking it is the way to go. The outcome is a crispy skinned, moist, flavorful chicken that is so delicious and cooks in only a fraction of the time.

Why You Should Spatchcock Your Next Chicken?

If you’re wondering why you should spatchcock a chicken, let’s just say that once you’ve done it, there’s no turning back. It will become your new favorite way to roast or grill a whole chicken with skin on every single time.

Is Spatchcock Chicken The Same As Butterflied Chicken?

Spatchcock chicken is not entirely the same as a butterflied chicken. It’s not simply splitting a chicken in half. The process of spatchcock chicken requires the backbone to be cut out and removed entirely. Then the breastbone is broken in order to allow the chicken to lay completely flat.

The process of a butterflied chicken can refer to a chicken breast or a whole chicken. The term butterfly refers to cutting it horizontally almost but not entirely in half and then opening it like a book. This has the same purpose as spatchcocking which is to allow the meat to cook more rapidly and more evenly.

raw spatchcock chicken in a pan

What Does Spatchcock Mean?

Spatchcock means to split open a chicken or game bird for roasting or grilling.

But Why is a Spatchcock Chicken the Best Way to Roast?

Still wondering why a spatchcock chicken is the best way to roast? There are valuable cooking benefits of spatchcocking. You’ll want to try it out as that’s the best way to experience it.

The three main benefits of cooking a chicken that’s been spatchcocked are revealing. You’ll love the chicken that’s so flavorful, has a golden crispy skin and moist inside, is cooked evenly at one-third to one-half the time. It is indeed the best way to roast or grill a chicken.

How to Make it a Meal

It’s quite simple to make your spatchcock chicken a meal. Just wash some redskin potatoes and half or quarter them, leaving the skins on and spread those around in the baking pan. You might also like to add some peeled carrots and Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Consider adding a fresh salad and bread for a complete meal.

Spatchcock chicken: the only way to cook a whole chicken and get crispy skin

Spatchcock chicken is the best way to cook a whole chicken. If you want to know how to make your spatchcock chicken crispy and juicy, rub the skin with cooking oil such as olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil before baking it.

The chicken can be cooked uncovered which will help the skin turn golden brown and the inside moist and juicy.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Spatchcock Chicken Success

Following are recipe notes and tips for cooking the perfect spatchcock chicken.

Cast Iron Pan: We recommend roasting or grilling your spatchcock chicken in a cast iron pan. The resulting flavor by using a cast iron pan is incredible and wonderful. Here is a link to our choice pan.

Use Thawed Chicken: Sometimes your whole chicken might be purchased frozen or perhaps you placed it in the freezer to store it for a time. However, your chicken should be safely thawed before you attempt to spatchcock and roast it.  

Use Sharp Kitchen Scissors: You’re going to need a pair of sharp kitchen scissors to complete the spatchcocking process. Here is a link to recommended scissors. A sharp knife makes it a little more challenging to complete the task, but the leverage of a pair of sharp kitchen scissors will make you more successful.

Use Seasoning: We’ve included the instructions for using lemon garlic seasoning in our recipe instructions below. If you’re not fond of lemon garlic, there are other seasoning options, but we recommend using salt or seasoning salt as a minimum.

Rub With Oil: For the best results, use olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable to rub the skin of the chicken before cooking it. This will help it to have a nice crispy, golden outcome.

spatchcock chicken in a cast iron pan

Spatchcock Chicken Flavor Variations

Your rubbing and roasting process may vary based on your personal preference. However, we’ve included some flavor variations below.

Lemon Garlic: Slice a lemon, along with an onion and 3-4 garlic cloves. Spread these in the bottom of the roasting pan for delicious lemon garlic chicken flavor.

Barbecue: Add barbecue sauce for the last 20 minutes of roasting time for delicious, barbecued chicken.

Herb Roasted: Add a sliced lemon, along with sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano on the bottom of the roasting pan for delicious herb roasted chicken flavor.

How to carve a spatchcock chicken

After the chicken has been roasted, there’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to carve a spatchcock chicken. If you’re looking for guidance, you can begin by removing the legs and the wings. Then, slice the breast with a sharp knife as desired. Drizzle with juice from the pan or jus using our recipe below.

Storing Leftovers

The best way to store leftovers is to remove the meat from the bone and place the meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you prefer longer term storage, you can remove the meat from the bone and place it in a zipped freezer bag and place it in the freezer. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

spatchcock chicken in a pan


Following are questions that are asked frequently about how to spatchcock chicken. We trust you will find our answers helpful. If you have further questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments box below.

Why spatchcock chicken?

What is the purpose of spatchcocking? There are three main reasons to spatchcock your chicken before cooking it. The benefits are that it provides a faster cook time, better flavor, and cooks more evenly. We’re thinking once you try it, you’re going to love it.

What is spatchcock chicken?

How do you spatchcock a whole chicken? Spatchcock chicken is the process of cutting a whole chicken, removing the backbone completely, breaking the breastbone and laying the meat flat to cook.

How to cook spatchcock chicken?

Spatchcock chicken can be oven roasted or cooked on a grill. Either way is absolutely delicious and will provide a successful outcome.

How long to cook spatchcock chicken?

The cook time depends on the size of the chicken being cooked. The chicken should be roasted or grilled until the internal temperature reaches 165F degrees. The cook time of a spatchcock chicken compared to a whole chicken is estimated to be decreased by one-third to one-half for this lay flat method.

What to serve with spatchcock chicken?

There are a vast variety of sides for serving suggestions that pair well with spatchcock chicken. Creamy mashed potatoes, green beans, corn bread, and a nice salad are popular favorites.

How to cook spatchcock chicken in the oven?

A popular way to cook spatchcock chicken is in the oven. Grease a cast iron pan with cooking oil. Add chopped onions, garlic, and lemon on the bottom of the pan. Place the prepared chicken on top. Then rub the outside of the chicken skin with cooking oil. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Place uncovered in a 400F degree oven and cook for about 1 hour to 1 hour, thirty minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165F degrees.

How do you know when a spatchcock chicken is done?

The best way to know when a spatchcock chicken is done is to use an instant read thermometer, placing it in the thickest part of the chicken. When the internal temperature reaches 165F degrees, the chicken is done.

Other indicators of the chicken being done include the fact that the juice from the chicken begins to run clear and the chicken will become tender and start to fall apart.

Do I need special tools for spatchcocking?

You will want to use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors to spatchcock a chicken and for cutting along the backbone. Since you’ll be cutting bone, kitchen scissors work better than a butcher knife.

Do you have to brine a chicken?

When preparing a spatchcock chicken for roasting in the oven or for grilling, there is no need to brine it first. Brining chicken is a matter of personal preference to prep and cook the chicken.

How do you know when chicken is done?

The general rule of thumb for knowing when chicken is done is when the internal temperature reaches 165F degrees, the chicken is done. Use a meat thermometer or instant read thermometer for accuracy.

Spatchcock Chicken Recipe (VIDEO)

See our recipe card below for a step-by-step video where we show the process of cutting the chicken and preparing it to lay flat for cooking.

Tools You Will Need:

Sharp pair of kitchen scissors
Cast iron pan

Ingredients for Spatchcock Chicken Recipe:

Whole roasting chicken
1 lemon, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
Cooking oil

Additional Ingredients for 1-Pan Chicken Dinner:

carrots, peeled
potatoes, quartered
brussels sprouts, halved

How to Make Spatchcock Chicken

Follow our step-by-step instructions below to prepare your spatchcock chicken for a delicious dinner. For more visual instructions, follow our video tutorial.

Spatchcocking Process

The spatchcocking process is the process of cutting the backbone out of the chicken and removing it from the bird. Then, breaking the breastbone and arranging the chicken to lay flat for cooking.

Directions: How to Spatchcock a Chicken Step by Step

Following are step by step instructions for how to spatchcock a chicken and prepare one of the most delicious chicken dinners.

Step 1: Cut Out the Backbone

Place the whole roasting chicken on a cutting surface with the breast side down. Using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, cut down the full length of one side of the backbone. Then cut down the full length of the other side of the backbone, removing the backbone completely. Set aside for making a jus.

locate the backbone
cut down both sides of the backbone, removing it completely

Step 2: Press and Crack the Breastbone

You might notice that the chicken doesn’t quite lay flat yet at this point. The breastbone still needs to be broken. There are two options for breaking the breastbone.

1. You can place the chicken skin side up and press on the center with the palms of your hands until the breastbone breaks.

2. Or, you can use a sharp knife to cut the breastbone until the chicken lays flat.

break breastbone

Step 3: Spread the Chicken

Prepare your baking pan for roasting. We like to add some cooking oil on the bottom of a cast iron pan, then add sliced lemons, garlic cloves, and chopped onions. Place the chicken on top and arrange it to lay flat. Rub the skin of the chicken with cooking oil.

raw spatchcock chicken in a pan

Step 4: Tuck the Wings

Tucking the wings is an optional step as is removing the wing tips, but one that is valuable for aesthetics and making the presentation look professional. Tuck the wings under the sides of the chicken to improve the appearance.

tuck the wings

Step 5: Bake or Grill

Bake uncovered in a 400F degree oven for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F degrees.

spatchcock chicken with lemon

How to Grill a Spatchcock Chicken

A spatchcock chicken is prepared for the grill the same way that it is to be roasted in the oven. You can either place the prepared chicken directly on the grill rack or place it in a cast iron pan and then place the pan directly on the grill. Either way will work.

To tell if your grilled spatchcock chicken is done, you should use an instant read thermometer and cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F degrees at the thickest part. It typically takes 1 to 1.5 hours to grill a spatchcock chicken depending on its size.

How to Make Jus Using the Backbone

While the chicken is cooking, use the backbone to make some delicious jus. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Cut the Backbone

Cut the backbone into approximately one-inch chunks, using your sharp kitchen scissors.

Step 2: Brown the Back

Heat cooking oil such as vegetable oil or canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the backbone pieces and cook them until they’re browned, stirring occasionally.

Step 3: Brown Aromatics and Deglaze

Add chopped onion, carrot, and celery to the pot and stir well scraping any browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup of water.

Step 4: Simmer and Strain

Let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes, then strain the juice, separating the solids. Place the liquid back in the pot and let simmer until reduced to about one-third of the volume.

Step 5: Season and Mount the Jus

Add a splash of lemon juice and soy sauce if desired, as well as 2 tablespoons of butter. The sauce is ready to serve and enjoy.

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how to spatchcock chicken pinterest pin

More Easy Chicken Recipes:

And there you have it! You have just spatchcocked a chicken! And as always enjoy!

How Long Does It Take?
Using our prepared 3 lb chicken as an example, it would normally take just over an hour to oven roast it. However, the spatchcocked version is 30-50% faster and would only take about 30 – 45 minutes to oven roast.

Questions or comments Ultimate Guide: How To Spatchcock Chicken? Contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

More Easy Chicken Recipes:
Latin Rice With Chicken Thighs
Roasted Chicken Breast With Rosemary And Lemons
Chicken With Rosemary Garlic Cream

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

3 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide: How To Spatchcock Chicken”

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