Spatchcock Chicken is also known as butterflying - a technique of removing the backbone for a faster roasting time that results in juicy and flavorful chicken
Spatchcock Chicken is just a fancy term for butterflying chicken. When you roast a whole chicken traditionally, you may need to nurse it to make sure that that all parts of the chicken are cooked evenly and thoroughly. With this Spatchcock Chicken recipe, the chicken is flattened so the breast and legs are on the same level, creating an all-round juicy tender flavorful recipe!
What is Spatchcock Chicken?
Also known as butterflying, spatchcocking is the technique of removing the chicken’s backbone so that it lays flat on a baking sheet. This method of preparing chicken allows the chicken to be spread out so the breast and wings are leveled. And that means it will cook in half the time it takes to roast or grill it traditionally.
There’s a great video of how easy it is to do this on Food & Wine. I also share my quick 1-minute video below. This is not a complicated process. You just need some good kitchen shears!
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
Prepare the chicken
- Place whole chicken breast side down. Use kitchen shears to cut through the ribs along the spine on both sides.
- When you remove the spine and bones, don’t discard it. Save it to make homemade chicken broth.
- Use a heavy knife to slightly cut into the sternum.
- Open the rib cage, and pop out the breast bone to flatten the chicken. Season inside the chicken with half the salt and pepper.
Make the herbed butter
We’re going to use the herbed butter under the skin of the spatchcock chicken to make the breast extra juicy and get the skin browned and crispy. I use softened butter, olive oil, parsley, fresh garlic and lemon juice and mix them well together. You can use only butter or feel free to switch around the herbs and seasoning based on your preference.
Spread the herbed butter on the spatchcock chicken
5. Flip the chicken over breast side up and set on the prepared rimmed baking half sheet. Use the palm of your hands to push firmly over the breast bone to allow chicken to flatten.
6. Use your thumbs to pull the skin from the meat.
7. Now you’re ready to place the herbed butter mixture under the chicken skin. You can use a spoon or your fingers and make sure to press the skin down to distribute the butter.
You’ll likely have extra herbed butter, and you can use that to dollop on top of the spatchcock chicken. Don’t worry about it being perfect because it’s going to melt and spread all over the chicken.
I highly recommend adding vegetables around the spatchcock chicken although it’s not exactly part of the recipe. The juices from the chicken create buttery crispy edges on the vegetables. And it’s possible you might even enjoy the vegetables more than the chicken! So don’t skip the veggies. You can add more olive oil and season with salt and pepper before baking in the oven.
You’ll know it’s ready when the skin is browned and crispy and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the spatchcock chicken is 160˚F. When you remove it from the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes on the counter uncovered. This will allow all the juices to concentrate in the chicken to make it extra tender and moist.
Tips for Making Spatchcock Chicken
- Use a whole chicken that’s 2-4 pounds. This spatchcock technique is intended for a young bird and anything larger will make it difficult to cut the backbone.
- Set the uncooked chicken at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting. This allows the whole chicken to have an even temperature for even browning.
- Use strong kitchen shears to cut the backbone. Make sure the scissors are sharp, and it will make the cutting so much easier as compared to using a knife.
- Be careful not to over-bake so the chicken breast doesn’t come out dry. While the ideal temperature for cooking chicken is 165˚F, keep in mind that the temperature will continue to increase while the chicken is resting outside the oven. So most sources I’ve read recommend removing the chicken when the internal temperature reaches 160˚F.
I love that this is a faster way to roast a whole chicken that doesn’t require marinating in advance or doing anything fancy. Butterflying the chicken using this spatchcock technique is simple enough to whip up on weeknights but it looks elegant for when you’re entertaining a crowd. It’s a great recipe for the holidays!
For more chicken recipes:
- Air Fryer Chicken
- Grilled Lemon Chicken
- Cilantro Chicken
- Oven Fried Chicken Tenders
- Pickle-Brined Chicken Tenders
- Stuffed Chicken
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Spatchcock Chicken recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
- 3-4 pound whole chicken
- 1 teaspoon salt divided
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper divided
- Assorted vegetables plus olive oil, salt and pepper as needed
Garlic Herb Butter
- 3 tablespoons salted butter softened
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more to drizzle
- 1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 425˚F, and line a rimmed baking half sheet with parchment paper
- Prepare whole chicken by placing it breast side down. Use kitchen shears to cut through the ribs along the spine on both sides. Use a heavy knife to slightly cut into the sternum, then open rib cage, and pop out the breast bone to flatten the chicken. Season inside the chicken with half the salt and pepper.
- Flip the chicken over breast side up and set on the prepared rimmed baking half sheet. Use the palm of your hands to push firmly over the breast bone to allow chicken to flatten. Use your thumbs to pull the skin from the meat.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the garlic herb butter until smooth and well incorporated. Spoon the butter mixture under the chicken skin, and spread any remainder over the chicken.
- If you’re preparing vegetables with the chicken, place them around the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper.
- Bake uncovered until instant read thermometer reads 160˚F when inserted into thickest part of chicken breast, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and rest uncovered for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.