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How To Spatchcock A Chicken

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Calories: 342
a spatchcocked chicken on parchment paper with salt thyme and parsley

Wondering how to make sure that your roast (or grilled) chicken turns out perfectly? All you need to know is how to spatchcock a chicken, and today, we’re going to teach you!

What Is Spatchcocking?

According to the actual dictionary, “spatchcock” is defined as “a fowl split and grilled usually immediately after being killed and dressed”. But colloquially, spatchcocking a chicken is the process of removing the backbone of a whole chicken so that the bird lays flat, regardless of whether or not you plan to grill it. We love spatchcocked chickens roasted, grilled, cooked over an open flame—as far as we’re concerned, there’s no wrong way to cook a spatchcocked chicken.

a whole chicken on parchment paper with parsley, thyme, salt and olive oil

Reasons To Spatchcock A Chicken

Wondering why to spatchcock a chicken? Well, here are a few very good reasons to spatchcock that bird:

  • Faster cooking: in a 450°F oven, a regular, whole chicken takes an hour and a half to roast. A whole chicken that's been spatchcocked takes half of that—it’s ready in just about 40 minutes. Magic!
  • More even cooking: with that chicken all spread out in a flat, even layer, the cooking happens quickly and evenly.
  • Extra flavor: more surface area is exposed, so the bird is easier to season in every last nook and cranny.
hands cutting the back bone out of a whole chicken on parchment paper with salt, olive oil, thyme and parsley
the back bone cut out of a whole chicken on parchment paper with salt, olive oil, thyme and parsley

The #1 Kitchen Tool You Need To Spatchcock A Chicken

Kitchen shears! A great, sturdy pair of kitchen shears comes in handy for many things, but they really earn their keep when it comes to jobs like this. Yes, you COULD use a very sharp chef's knife, but spatchcocking is much, much easier if you have kitchen shears. Plus, once you get the hang of spatchcocking, your roast chicken (or grilled chicken game) will be so stepped up and speedy, you'll be wanting to make spatchcock chicken on the regular, so might as well invest in some shears. Did we talk you into it yet?

a spatchcocked chicken on parchment paper with salt thyme and parsley

Spatchcock Chicken: To Roast Or To Grill

How about all of the above?! Seasoned with just salt and pepper, a spatchcocked chicken cooked on the grill is just about as easy and perfect as dinner can be. But if you want something a little more snazzy, these spatchcock chicken recipes are pretty great to get you started:

How To Spatchcock A Chicken

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Calories: 342

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 lb) Whole chicken

Method

How To Spatchcock A Chicken

Place chicken on a large cutting board and Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Arrange the chicken breast-side down on the cutting board with the neck facing towards you.

Using good-quality kitchen shears holding the neck and cut along one side of the chicken spine, separating it from the ribs. Be sure to cut as close to the spine as you can so that you do not end up discarding any more of the chicken meat than necessary. Repeat on the other side of the spine. If you are having difficulty getting through the bird, rotate it so that the tail faces you and cut from the other side.

Flip the chicken so that the breasts face upward and the chicken legs face outward. Using the palm of your hands, press along the breast bone. You might hear a small crack. This should flatten the chicken completely.

Note: Reserve the spine for homemade chicken stock