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 pan-frying.
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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! I mean, you can cook a whole chicken and get the perfect crispy crust and flavorful, tender meat in 45 minutes! What is not to love!?
It’s been years since I first learned how to spatchcock chicken (about 8 to be exact), but the technique is so ingrained in me that when I see a whole chicken I automatically know what to do with it!
Why should I spatchcock my 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
To spatchcock a chicken you are 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 piece 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! Try roasting with chickpeas, potatoes, and peppers for an even more filling, flavorful meal!
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.
If you make this Herb Crusted Spatchcock Chicken, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below! I love hearing from you!