Once you try this Roast Spatchcock Chicken Recipe, it's sure to be your new favorite way to cook a whole chicken. This special technique magically turns a one pan chicken meal into juicy and flavorful perfection.
In this post, you will learn how to spatchcock a chicken with this step-by step tutorial that is sure to make you feel like a pro.
Spatchcock is a weird word. It sounds like a cross between a rooster and a spatula on the one hand, but comes across as a technique only professional chefs would know how to do on the other.
Either way, it's a bit intimidating to consider doing something called “spatchcocking” to a chicken when you have no idea what it is to begin with — you know what I mean?
However, to spatchcock chicken is in fact a very simple method that is so easy even inexperienced home cooks can do it. Promise. And I'm going to show you how.
In this post, I'm going to first of all demystify the strange term, and then walk you through each step of making a roast spatchcock chicken with all of the photos and all of the (literally) juicy details.
What Does Spatchcock Mean?
To “spatchcock” something means to “butterfly” or spread a piece of meat over a larger surface area.
“Spatchcock” is an old Irish term, first appearing in 18th century literature. It's said to be an abbreviation for “dispatch cock,” which was an order used to command cooks to get a chicken off the spit and out to their customers.
Today, however, this technique refers to “butterflying” or preparing the chicken (or other bird) so you can cook large pieces of poultry in less time. In addition to saving time, using this method yields a more flavorful bird, yielding more juicy meat with loads of golden-crisp skin.
Benefits of Spatchcock Cooking
If you've made roasted chicken before, you know how it goes–roasted chickens can be problematic since the chicken breast can often dry out before dark meat is cooked through. When you spatchcock a chicken, however, the chicken breast sits on the same level as the legs so it bakes evenly.
I don’t know about you, but any chicken recipe that provides more deliciously crisp skin is a recipe I'm going to be making again and again. and again.
The tenderness of this spatchcock chicken meat paired with the crispiness of the seasoned skin is heavenly.
Essentially, when you spatchcock chicken you remove the backbone and lay the chicken (or turkey) flat. If you are a frugal mama, be sure to save the backbone for a delicious stock later. I freeze the backbone in Saran Wrap until I am ready to make a soup! Here is a great recipe for Homemade Chicken Broth.
Besides the ease of roasting this spatchcock chicken, this recipe is also extremely health conscious. Food allergies are not an issue with this meal because it is naturally free of gluten, grains, and dairy.
Those that follow a specific diet plan, such as Paleo or Keto, will find this recipe quickly become part of your weekly meal plan.
In the off chance my family and I don’t eat this entire spatchcock chicken in one sitting, we re-purpose the remaining meat for lunches later in the week. I shred the remaining chicken to quickly use in chicken pasta salad or quesadillas.
As you can see, this one simple tutorial of How to Spatchcock a Chicken can easily turn into three meals by using the leftover meat for lunch and the backbone for a delicious stock.
How to Season This Chicken
The simplicity of the seasoning ingredients brushed on the chicken is on purpose.
I like to use seasonings that most of us have on hand.
If you have seasonings that you just love, by all means use them. Make this recipe your own! Barbecue seasoning or paprika would be a lovely addition.
I would strongly encourage you to season generously with the salt and pepper, because no one likes a bland piece of chicken.
And I can’t speak for you, but I have yet to have an over-seasoned chicken breast. Somehow seasonings just evaporate when chicken cooks.
You will know you have seasoned it enough with salt and pepper when you feel like you over did it. Trust me, it will be the perfect amount!
Okay, let's get dinner started. Remember, you can do this! It's as easy as 1…2…3. Once you have enjoyed your spatchcock chicken, be sure to let us know down in the comments if you “made this chicken your own” or followed the recipe to a “T.”
The instructions below are for making roast spatchcock chicken. Of course you can adapt this recipe for other cooking methods, such as grilling or broiling, or cooking over an open fire. If you plan to grill or cook over an open fire, you might wish to marinate first to prevent the bird from drying out.
You can also, of course, spatchcock a turkey too. It's a great way to make an amazing Holiday meal.
Step-by-Step Photos for How to Spatchcock a Chicken
The full recipe is below. First, however, are the step by step photos.
Doesn't that look amazing?
Roasted chicken with perfectly crispy skin on the outside and juicy meat on the inside, atop roasted veggies.
All done much faster than a roasted chicken normally takes.
Dinner done right and done delicious.
I guarantee that this will be your new favorite way to make chicken.
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
- Preheat oven to 450º F. Place the chicken, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Make sure the chicken is clean and dried thoroughly.
- Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone and remove it.
- Optional: Place the backbone in a plastic bag or plastic wrap, then store in the freezer for making chicken stock.
- Flip the chicken over, breast-side up.
- Place the palm of your hand over the breast and press down firmly until you feel the breastbone crack. The chicken should lie relatively flat now.
- Transfer the chicken, breast-side up, to a wire rack or wire cooling rack. Set the wire rack on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Tuck the wings under the body and rotate the thighs to lie flat. In a small bowl, whisk together extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice.
- Before you brush the mixture over the entire chicken make sure the chicken skin is dry. The drier the skin is before you apply the seasoning, the crispier the skin will be after it is roasted.
- Brush olive oil and seasoning mixture over entire chicken.
- Season generously with salt and pepper.
- If desired, add 1" pieces of preferred veggies on the parchment paper-lined pan under the rack of chicken.
- Roast chicken in the oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through. When a thermometer is inserted into the thigh to check for doneness it should read 165º F or higher. After the chicken is roasted, transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. If desired, garnish with chopped sage or parsley.
The above nutrition facts are estimates only. Please read my Nutrition Disclaimer here.
Now that you know how to spatchcock a chicken, will you try it?
Sammi Ricke likes to keep things simple, delicious, and nutritious in her kitchen. She enjoys the challenge of finding unique ways to incorporate “just one more whole food” into every meal, while leaving just enough room for life’s essentials: chocolate and almond butter. If you are looking for “healthified” versions of your family’s favorite meals be sure to visit Sammi’s Grounded & Surrounded Blog. You can also find her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.