How to Spatchcock Chicken

5 from 23 votes

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

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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!

 final plated spatchcock chicken on a dish

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

  1. Place whole chicken breast side down. Use kitchen shears to cut through the ribs along the spine on both sides.
  2. When you remove the spine and bones, don’t discard it. Save it to make homemade chicken broth.
  3. Use a heavy knife to slightly cut into the sternum.
  4. Open the rib cage, and pop out the breast bone to flatten the chicken. Season inside the chicken with half the salt and pepper.
Process shots showing how to spatchcock a chicken

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.

Process shots showing the herbed butter before and after mixing

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.

Process shots showing the herbed butter getting stuffed under the skin of the chicken

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.

Spatcocked chicken laying flat on baking sheet

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.

Vegetables added on baking pan around the spatchcocked chicken

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Single serving of the roasted chicken with potatoes and carrots potat

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:

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

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
5 from 23 votes
Servings 4 servings
Course Dinner
Calories 461
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Recipe: This recipe was inspired by Natasha’s Kitchen.
Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last up to 4 days.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However you can switch out the spices, herbs and vegetables based on your preferences.
Nutritional Data: The information below is an automated estimate and could vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used. The nutrition information is only for the chicken and does not include the vegetables.

Nutrition

Calories: 461kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 37g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 145mg, Sodium: 772mg, Potassium: 309mg, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 575IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Spatchcock Chicken with potatoes and vegetables

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Comments

  1. Thank you for the recipe! We’ve enjoyed it several times and will keep making it this way because of how less time it takes to cook a butterflied chicken. Also, the flavor is absolutely yummy!

  2. Never thought that I would ever look at a chicken being cut and prepared. Very neat Work. Love the idea of stuffing the herbed butter under the skin. Great recipe. Thanks

  3. I took the recipe and cooked a very nice chicken and it was AMAZING thabk you soo much for the healthy,delicious recipe ❤️?