How to Spatchcock Chicken, a Step-by-Step Guide

This revolutionary four-step technique will change how you roast a chicken.

spatchcocked chicken with tomatoes

Though spatchcocking sometimes seems like a cook's secret, for anyone looking for the perfect way to roast a chicken, this is it. Also known as butterflying, the simple technique requires cutting out the backbone (often done with kitchen shears), opening the bird up, and flattening it. The result is a whole chicken that cooks more evenly when roasted than it otherwise would.

Why Spatchcock?

Not only does spatchcocking produce a roast chicken in at least 15 minutes less than the time required to prepare an intact roasted bird, but it also results in a more perfectly cooked dish. Who hasn't suffered the age-old issue of overcooked breast meat and undercooked thighs? Once you start spatchcocking chicken, those problems become distant memories. The third winning feature of spatchcocking is that it exposes more skin, which crisps up nicely at higher temperatures—and more crispy skin is definitely a win!

The Method

The basic method is easy, and if you follow just four simple steps, you'll be well on your way to dinner success. One important note: Be sure to season the chicken ahead of roasting in order to allow the salt to absorb, then customize your spatchcocked chicken with favorite seasonings and ingredients using one of our recipes. Cook your spatchcocked chicken on the grill and look forward to equally crisp and juicy results.

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

There are endless variations: Some cooks remove the backbone entirely (maybe they use it for stock?), while others only cut along one side to open up the bird but leave the backbone to roast. (It's a delicacy some like to gnaw on once roasted.)

spatchcocked chicken step one

1. Getting Started

Place one whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), breast side down, on a work surface.

spatchcocked chicken step two

2. Remove the Backbone

Starting at thigh end, cut along one side of backbone with kitchen shears.

spatchcocked chicken step three

3. Continue to Remove the Backbone

Turn chicken around; cut along other side. Discard or save backbone for stock.

spatchcocked chicken step four

4. Flatten the Chicken

Flip chicken over and open it like a book. Press firmly on breastbone to flatten. The chicken is ready for seasoning and roasting.

Spatchcocked Chicken Recipes

Now you've got the technique down pat, try one of our spatchcocked chicken recipes.

spatchcooked chicken

Roast Spatchcocked Lemon Chicken

First up, this simply delicious Roast Spatchcocked Lemon Chicken. All you need is one 4-pound chicken, shallots, lemon, and olive oil.

Get the Roast Spatchcocked Lemon Chicken Recipe

Spatchcocked Chicken on Bread with Herbs

Spatchcocked Chicken on Bread with Herbs and Lemon

This recipe adds a delicious element to your roast spatchcocked chicken; a platform of bread to absorb the juices as it roasts. While it's still hot, scatter fresh herbs over it and squeeze on some lemon juice for a fresh sauce that basically makes itself.

Get the Spatchcocked Chicken on Bread with Herbs and Lemon Recipe

Grilled Spatchcock Chicken with Dijon and Rosemary

Grilled Spatchcock Chicken with Dijon and Rosemary

Spatchcocking is not just a technique for oven roasting. It also works wonderfully on the grill, ensuring the bird grills evenly, absorbs subtle smokiness, and achieves a crispy, golden-brown sear. Try this easy recipe which has you slather on our Dijon-rosemary marinade before it hits the flames, and let the flavors soar.

Get the Grilled Spatchcock Chicken with Dijon and Rosemary Recipe

Spatchcocked Chicken with Potatoes

Spatchcocked Chicken with Potatoes

One of the reasons we like spatchcocking is that it exposes more skin, which crisps up nicely at higher temperatures. Of course, it also yields a perfect roasted chicken, which we prepare here with plenty of gorgeous crispy potatoes.

Get the Spatchcocked Chicken with Potatoes Recipe

Roast Chicken with Artichokes

Roast Chicken with Artichokes

This spatchcocked chicken is for artichoke fans, it uses four jars of oil-packed artichoke hearts for a unique accent to a roast chicken.

Get the Roast Chicken with Artichokes Recipe


Spatchcocked Saffron Chicken

Saffron gives the chicken a golden glow in this spatchcocking recipe. Ghee replaces the usual butter and is mixed with mint and cilantro for a fragrant rub under the skin of the chicken prior to grilling or roasting.

Get the Spatchcocked Saffron Chicken Recipe

Spatchcocked Chicken with Chickpeas

Spatchcocked Chicken with Chickpeas

A can of chickpeas is added to the chicken after 15 minutes of cooking, then the dish is finished with lime juice and cilantro for a hearty yet fresh dish.

Get the Spatchcocked Chicken with Chickpeas Recipe

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