Spatchcock chicken involves removing the backbone of a whole chicken, which then allows the chicken to completely open and flatten. This method gives you a tender whole chicken with perfectly crispy skin, in significantly less time than grilling or cooking it whole. Below is a step-by-step video and detailed instructions so you can make it perfectly!
The Spatchcocked or butterflied technique is great when you want juicy, tender, perfectly cooked meat! It’s perfect for roasting or grilling a whole chicken, turkey, or duck! If you’re looking for more spatchcocked recipes to try, check out our Delicious Spatchcocked Turkey, Butterflied Cajun Chicken, or Grilled Barbecue Spatchcocked Chicken!
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Spatchcock Chicken AKA Butterfly Chicken
Spatchcock or butterfly chicken is the only way I roast a whole chicken! This is actually one of the first cooking methods I learned in culinary school. Learning this technique was has honestly been heaven-sent! You can cook a whole chicken and get the perfect crispy crust and flavorful, tender meat in 45 minutes! What is not to love!?
What Is Spatchcock Chicken?
To spatchcock, or butterfly a chicken is to remove the backbone and breast bone from the chicken. When you do this you are able to roast the chicken flat, which exposes it to more heat and cuts the cooking time in half.
It also allows you to put the marinade under the skin of the chicken. So, instead of putting all the flavor and seasoning on the outside of the chicken and pocking holes in the chicken or just hoping the flavor seeps through, you can put any seasonings or marinades directly on the meat. When you butterfly the chicken, it comes out with a PERFECT, GOLDEN, CRISPY crust and TENDER, JUICY, FLAVORFUL meat.
How To Spatchcock A Chicken Step-By-Step
To spatchcock a chicken start by removing the backbone. First, clean and prepare the chicken by removing any neck parts and gizzards. Be sure to rinse and dry the chicken with a towel. Then, grab your best kitchen shears. (If you are in need of quality chicken shears, here are my favorite.)
Using Your Kitchen Shears, cut along the backbone from the tail to the neck. Cut along both sides of the backbone until it is removed completely. You can save the backbone to make stock or throw it away.
Now, flip the chicken over and break the breastbone to flatten the bird. There are two ways to do this.
- In culinary school, I learned to completely remove the breast bone by using a paring knife or boning knife and cut along the bone to remove it from the chicken.
- The more common method is to break the breastbone by pressing down on each side at the same time until the bones crack. Lastly, remove the wing-tips by simply cutting them off (optional).
Your spatchcock chicken is now ready to be seasoned and cooked in the oven! In less than 45 minutes you’ll have a tender, flavorful whole chicken!
How Long To Cook Spatchcock Chicken
Roast the spatchcock chicken uncovered at 400°F for 45 minutes, or until the skin is golden and crisp. Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. The thermometer should read 165°F or more when the chicken is fully cooked. (Do not over-bake or you risk drying out the chicken)
Want To Make A Full Meal On One Pan?
Roasted spatchcock chicken is the perfect one-pan dinner! You can add potatoes, chickpeas, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or any of your favorite root vegetables. I love to roast the chicken with chickpeas, potatoes, and peppers for an even more filling, flavorful meal!
You can also prepare the sides separately. Make Crispy Chickpeas in the air fryer, Brussel sprouts in the oven, and garlicky mashed potatoes!
I Hope You Enjoy This Spatchcock Chicken Recipe!
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More Poultry Recipes To Try:
- Best Air Fryer Chicken Wings (Gluten-Free)
- Buttermilk Roasted Chicken Recipe
- Gluten-Free Fried Chicken and Waffles
- Air Fryer Turkey Legs
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Breast (Gluten-Free)
- Grilled Greek-Style Lemon Yogurt Chicken
- Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Wings
How to Spatchcock Chicken (Butterfly Chicken) + Lemon Herb Sauce
- 1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken
Lemon Herb Mixture
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 4 Lemons, juiced (divided)
- 5 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary, chopped
- 4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme, chopped
- 4 Sprigs Fresh Sage, chopped
- 5 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2 Onion, finely chopped
- 1 Jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tsp Dried Oregano
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp Red Crushed Pepper
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 (15 oz can) Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1.5 cup fingerling potatoes
- 1-2 bell peppers (any color), sliced
- Clean and prepare the chicken by removing any neck parts and gizzards. Be sure to rinse and dry the chicken with a towel.
- Using kitchen shears, cut along the backbone from the tail to the neck. Cut along both sides of the backbone until it is removed completely. You can save the backbone piece to make stock or throw it away.
- Now, flip the chicken over and break the breastbone to flatten the bird by either pressing down on both sides of the breastbone until the bones crack, or taking a boning knife to cut along the bone to remove it from the chicken.
- Cut off the wingtips. Place the chicken, with its backbone removed on a plastic cutting board, breast side down.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C)
- Prepare the lemon herb mixture by combining all of the ingredients listed above. Rub the mixture generously over the chicken and under the skin.
- Place the chicken breast side down in a cast-iron or baking sheet. Tuck the wings under the breast. (Add the optional ingredients to roast with the chicken for a heartier meal). Roast the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the skin is golden and crisp. Insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. The thermometer should read 165+ is the chicken is fully cooked.
- Squeeze juice of 1/2 of lemon over the chicken. Serve and enjoy! This chicken goes well with anything! I love to serve it with mashed potatoes and roasted seasonal vegetables.
- You’ll want to roast your chicken in a large cast iron (like this one) or a baking sheer (like this one)
- Use an instant thermometer to ensure the meat is fully cooked. The temperature should read 165°F
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to five days.
Ohhh that lemon herb mixture looks perfect for chicken! Saving this delicious looking chicken recipe for fall!
Hi Lisa! Sounds good to me!
Now this is my idea of chicken dinner! I love the flavor of ALL the fresh herbs…and how simple, yet elegant, this is. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Traci! So glad you like! The fresh herbs definitely elevate this dish!
That chicken looks amazing! I love how easy it looks to prep ! I’m totally making this recipe this week!
Hi Jessie! It is super easy to prepare! I hope you enjoy!
I have never spatchcocked a chicken but your recipe looks delicious and it’s going on my dinner menu this week. The lemon herb sauce sounds like the perfect compliment for this dish.
Hi Ali! I hope you enjoy!
Roast chicken is part of our Sunday night dinner rotation. Classic and always fantastic. Yours is beautiful! It’s no fuss and we all need dinners like that.
Thank you, Neli!
I would have never known the offical name for “busting open a chicken,” had I not found your recipe! Very simple and delicious. Once I broke the chicken down it was smooth sailing.
Hi Renia! “Busting open a chicken” works too! lol. I am glad you like the recipe!
Thank you for the detailed and clear instructions on how to spatchcock a chicken!
No problem Sam! Glad the directions helped!
The seasoning combination for this recipe was perfect! Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome, Desiree! Glad you liked!
Spatchcocked chicken is a favorite around here! I love the seasonings for this! Totally delicious!
Hi Mila! I am glad you liked the flavor. I love using tons of fresh herbs and lemon to elevate this chicken dish!
Call me psychotic, but I thoroughly enjoy spatchcocking chicken. This recipe makes for a very quick roast chicken, which is great for a busy weeknight.
Haha, Marta! You sound Brilliant to me! Spatchcocking chicken is honestly the best!
This was my first time spatchcocking a chicken and I’ll never go back! It came out perfect and the seasonings were amazing!
Made this tonight and omg so glad I found this recipe! Definitely making this a regular for my family.
Hi Eden! This is a regular in my home too! I am so happy you and your family enjoyed the recipe!