Our Step-by-Step Guide to Spatchcocking a Chicken
This revolutionary four-step technique will change how you roast a chicken! Once you've mastered the technique, try our tasty recipes.
What is spatchcocking and why might you want to try this technique? It sometimes seems like spatchcocking is a secret. Maybe it's the name that sounds off putting, but for anyone looking for the perfect way to roast a chicken, know that this is it. The technique requires home cooks to simply split and flatten a whole chicken, and it's also known as butterflying. All in all, it's pretty simple: While spatchcocking does require 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. The Spatchcocked Chicken with Tomatoes, pictured here, is a great recipe to start with.
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!
There are, of course, 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.)
The basic method is easy, and if you follow our step-by-step guide, which requires 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. We have recipes for spatchcocked chicken with tomatoes, with chickpeas, with potatoes, and more. Or forgo the oven and cook your spatchcocked chicken on the grill and look forward to equally crisp and juicy results.
Place one whole chicken (three to four pounds), breast side down, on a work surface.
Remove the Backbone
Starting at thigh end, cut along one side of backbone with kitchen shears.
Continue to Remove the Backbone
Turn chicken around; cut along other side. Discard or save backbone for stock.
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. First up this simply delicious Roast Spatchcocked Lemon Chicken. All you need is one four-pound chicken, shallots, lemon, and olive oil.
Spatchcocked Chicken on Bread with Herbs
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.
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.
Spatchcocked Chicken with Potatoes
One of the reasons we like spatchcocking is that 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.
Roast Chicken with Artichokes
This spatchcocked chicken is for artichoke fans, it uses four jars of oil-packed artichoke hearts for a unique spring accent to a roast chicken.
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.
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.