This spatchcocked chicken recipe (butterflied chicken) is a great way of cooking chicken evenly. Spatchcock chicken involves removing the backbone to help flatten the chicken prior to cooking or baking. It is simple to prepare and requires no special skills. All you need is a whole chicken, some tools like a knife, kitchen shears or cleaver, and a little time.
Related: How to boil chicken
This technique is perfect for those who want something quick and easy to cook and it looks pretty impressive just being able to cut open a whole bird like a book. Once you’ve mastered how to spatchcock a chicken, you can try some other easy recipes with the butterflied chicken.
If you’re wondering whether a spatchcocked chicken is the same thing as butterflied chicken, the answer is yes.
What is spatchcocking?
Spatchcocking is a cooking technique used for chicken also known as butterflying. It involves removing the backbone and breaking the breastbone of the chicken and allowing the chicken to be opened up like a book. This makes it easier to cook the chicken evenly and prevents it from becoming dry or overcooked. You can also use this method for other types of meat, such as turkey, pork, or lamb.
The advantage of using spatchcocking is that it results in a more uniform and quicker cooking process and you are left with a more tender and juicy chicken than when the chicken is roasted whole. Additionally, spatchcocking is a great way to get more flavor out of your chicken, the chicken also cooks 25% faster when butterflied, and because it’s on a flat surface, there is maximum exposure to heat, which results in more crispy, golden brown skin.
The best recipe for spatchcocked chicken can be achieved if you know how to season your chicken perfectly and not forget to baste the chicken all throughout the cooking process, this will ensure that the chicken stays moist and flavorful.
There are so many ways to cook a spatchcocked chicken, it can be grilled in an open flame, roasted over a charcoal fire, or baked in the oven. In this write-up, I’ll be showing you the easy steps to spatchcock your chicken and how to season and cook the bird afterward. This recipe for spatchcocked chicken is perfect for a quick weeknight meal.
Related: Roasted chicken thighs
What is the point of a spatchcock chicken?
- Shorter cooking time
- An even distribution of heat
- Crispy skin
- Extra flavor
- Different cooking methods
Shorter cooking time
This makes it an easy recipe to prepare since the chicken can be opened like a book and you don’t have to turn the chicken every time it’s cooking.
Even distribution of heat
It also allows the meat to cook evenly in all directions since different parts of the chicken cook at different rates. Additionally, the removal of the backbone allows the chicken breasts to cook more evenly and also for the legs to be done in less time compared to cooking a whole chicken.
With spatchcocking, the coveted cavity of the bird is opened up for even cooking, so that all of the meat can cook at the same rate to result in a crispy skin and a juicy interior. Every part of the chicken gets cooked at the same rate and no parts will be undercooked or tough.
This technique allows more surface area to absorb flavors from the spices and seasonings that you use; this way, the chicken will have a more delicate flavor and become less dry.
Different cooking methods
With this method of prepping a chicken, the bird can be cooked by grilling, roasting, broiling, baking, or by using a cast iron skillet and it makes cleaning up much easier.
Spatchcock chicken seasonings
- 3-4 lb chicken or 1 whole chicken
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
- 4 minced garlic or use garlic powder,
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
How to spatchcock a chicken
Prepare the chicken for spatchcocking
Lay the chicken breast side up on a large cutting board, check for the neck and giblets, and remove with a sharp knife.
Separate the spine from the ribs
Starting from the tail, cut along one side of the spine or backbone separating it from the ribs with the use of a sharp knife or shears. Be careful when doing this, you don’t want to cut too deep into the flesh than needed.
Repeat this same process on the opposite side of the backbone until you notice it detaching from the ribs. Cut off some of the excess skin to reveal the flesh for stuffing if necessary. You can keep the spin or the backbone and use it later for homemade chicken stock.
Flatten it to make a butterfly chicken
Turn the chicken over when done, so that its breasts are facing down on your work surface, and remove all of the visible veins from the skin by running your finger along them. Press the breast bone down firmly with your palms to help flatten out the chicken completely.
Pat the chicken dry
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels to make it easy to move around and apply the seasonings. Gently spread the legs apart to create a butterfly chicken.
Tuck the wing to prevent it from burning
Fold the wing behind the chicken breasts to hide them from direct heat. The spatchcocked chicken is now ready to cook.
Do you flip Spatchcock chicken when cooking?
There are several reasons for flipping spatchcock chicken, one reason is that it helps to ensure even cooking and prevents sticking, especially when using a conventional oven or while roasting on a grill. Flipping a butterflied chicken helps to create a crispy exterior with a moist interior.
But if you are using a convection oven, no need of flipping a spatchcocked chicken because the heat will be distributed evenly. Simply place it breast side down in the pan, and cook it that way until the chicken is cooked through.
What can I serve with a spatchcock chicken?
There are many things that you can serve with a spatchcock chicken recipe such as Pasta Primavera, Rice Pilaf, Steamed broccoli, Rice and bean dish, Angel hair pasta, and Spaghetti dish. Also, spatchcocked chicken can be served as part of a salad. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is tasty and filling.
What’s the difference between spatchcock and normal chicken?
Compared to normal chicken, spatchcock chicken has its spine removed making it look like a bird; this method allows you to season the bird in every direction and helps it cook really quickly unlike the normal chicken. However, this can not be done with a normal or regular chicken, since it is not flattened out, the drumsticks, wings, and backbone are left intact, and thus takes a long time to cook since the chicken is not flat. It is really difficult for the seasonings to penetrate into the flesh and bones
How do you tuck the wings on a spatchcock chicken?
When you want to cook a spatchcocked chicken, you first need to tuck the wings behind the bird’s back. To do this, use your fingers to spread the wing tips apart so that they fan out from the bird. Then, put your hands around the wingtips and pull them towards the body of the chicken. You’ll now have two neatly tucked wings.
What temperature do you cook a spatchcock chicken?
You can cook your bird at any temperature, but pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended to ensure that the chicken cooks evenly. While the chicken is in the oven, you can eyeball it, or use an oven thermometer to make sure it’s cooked through.
The internal temperature of the spatchcocked chicken should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will not only ensure that the chicken is cooked through, but that it is also evenly cooked. However, there are many factors that will affect this temperature such as the size of the bird and the thickness of the skin, but no matter the case, just make sure to continue cooking the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that it is fully cooked.
Can you spatchcock without shears?
Many people believe that spatchcocking chicken is only possible with kitchen shears, but this is not true. A chicken can be spatchcocked using other tools such as a sharp knife, a pair of scissors, or a cleaver.
What is spatchcock vs butterfly chicken?
Butterflied chicken is the same as spatchcocked chicken, it is a method of preparing a chicken, where the chicken is cut open along the backbone and then flattened out. This allows the chicken to cook more evenly, and it also makes it easier to remove the meat from the bone. Spatchcocking, or butterflying is a technique of cutting the chicken into two identical pieces so that the backbone can be removed and the chicken is laid flat like a book before being cooked, roasted, or grilled. This method allows you to properly season and cooks a whole chicken easily. This way, the chicken cooks evenly and retains its juices.
Is it easy to spatchcock a chicken?
If you’re not familiar with the spatchcock method of prepping chicken, you might find it a bit challenging to carry out this process. However, spatchcocking is very easy once you have all your kitchen tools and your bird laid out on a flat surface the next thing you need is patience. Start by cutting the backbone out of the chicken with a sharp knife or poultry shears. Then, make some cuts along both sides of the backbone from neck to tail. Finally, open up the bird like a book and remove the internal organs if you have not already removed those.
How long to cook a spatchcock chicken
Generally speaking though, a standard-sized spatchcock would cook for around 45 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, while an extra-large bird would take about 60 minutes to cook. However, the cooking time may also depend on a number of factors, including the size, and shape of your chicken, the thickness of the skin, the recipe you’re using, and finally your oven temperature.
Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe
- 1 Chopping board
- 1 Oven safe wire rack
- 1 Mixing bowl
- 1 Poultry shears a sharp chef knife, a pair of scissors can be used too
- 1 Baking dish
- 1 foil paper
- 3 Wraps of paper towels
- 4 ½ lb chicken 1 large whole chicken
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp olive oil xtra virgin olive oil or avocado oil will do
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
- 1 tbsp minced garlic you can use garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt you can adjust the salt to your taste
How to spatchcock a chicken
- Lay the chicken breasts side up on a large cutting board, check for the neck and giblets, and remove with a sharp knife.
- Starting from the tail, cut along one side of the spine or backbone separating it from the ribs with the use of a sharp knife or shears. Be careful when doing this, you don't want to cut too deep into the flesh than needed.
- Repeat this same process on the opposite side of the backbone until you notice it detaching from the ribs. Cut off some of the excess skin to reveal the flesh if necessary. You can keep the spin or the backbone and use it later for homemade chicken stock.
- When done, turn the chicken over so that its breast side is facing down on your work surface. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels to make it easy to move and apply seasonings, and gently spread the legs apart to create a butterfly chicken. And remove all of the visible veins from the skin by running your finger along them.
- Press the breast bone down firmly with your palms to help flatten out the chicken completely.
- Tuck the wing tips behind the chicken’s shoulder by gently folding them towards the neck cavity and then behind the chicken.
How to cook spatchcock chicken
- Combine the smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, chili flakes, thyme, onion powder, chicken bouillon powder, minced garlic, cumin, and salt in a bowl, and mix; make sure they are nicely combined.
- Transfer the spatchcocked chicken to your oven grill lined with foil, rub some olive oil all over the chicken, this will help the seasoning to stick perfectly.
- Go on and rub the dry seasoning all over the chicken; remember to apply the seasoning under the skin of the chicken if you want some extra crispiness and flavor.
- Turn the chicken over to the opposite side season as well, just make sure to add the seasoning in every nook and cranny of the bird. And while doing this, preheat your grill or oven to 400F.
- When you are done with this process, flip the bird over, and repair the legs and the wings, the chicken wings are thin and can burn easily, so, tuck them behind the breasts. You can rest the chicken for a couple of minutes first if you don't mind.
- Go ahead and grill your spatchcocked chicken right away for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes baste, the chicken with the sauce of your choice and grill for another 25 minutes or until the internal temperature records 165F. Be sure not to overcook the chicken as it will continue to cook once it's out of the oven
- And your spatchcocked roasted chicken is ready, you can cool it for 15 minutes before serving.
- Serve it hot with your favorite dipping sauce or with freshly made salad.
Make ahead of timeIf you are not ready to grill or roast your chicken immediately you can spatchcock the chicken ahead of time and freeze it until when you need it.
Storing spatchcock chickenAfter grilling your spatchcocked chicken, there will definitely be leftovers, store the leftover chicken in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 to 5 days. Also, it can be frozen for up to 3 months; place the leftover pieces in a resealable bag, making sure to remove all the air. Freeze for 3 months, and used it to make simple delicious chicken recipes such as chicken with spaghetti, chicken soup, and salad.
Ask for help where necessaryIf you are worried about how to carry out this technique and don’t have the courage to do so, you can always ask the people at the butcher counter to help spatchcock the chicken for you. It takes just a few minutes to do so. And don’t forget to collect the backbone and the neck and use them for chicken soup or homemade chicken stock.
What to serve with spatchcocked chickenThis easy spatchcocked chicken recipe goes well with anything. I will recommend serving it warm with your favorite sauce or over a bed of steamed rice, mashed potatoes, or steamed vegetables for a complete and healthy meal. This method allows your chicken to cook really quickly, and adds extra flavor and juiciness to the chicken.
This spatchcocked chicken recipe is easy to follow and all the ingredients can be adjusted to your preference, if you’re looking for a really fast chicken recipe for dinner, you’ve got the right one here, it is easy to make, and super cost-effective.
Now that you have learned how to spatchcock a chicken, I hope this becomes your favorite way to cook a whole chicken. Let’s know your thoughts in the comments below.