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How To Spatchcock A Chicken

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!


a spatchcocked chicken on parchment paper with salt thyme and parsley

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:

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How To Spatchcock A Chicken

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  0 min
  • Calories: 340


  • 1 (4-5 pound) whole chicken


  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place on a large cutting board, breast side down with the neck facing toward you.
  2. Using good-quality kitchen shears, hold the neck and cut along one side of the spine, separating it from the ribs. Be sure to cut as close to the spine as possible. Repeat on the other side of the spine. If you are having difficulty, rotate the bird so the tail faces you and cut from the other side.
  3. Flip the chicken breast-side up. Using the palms of your hands, press along the breastbone; you might hear a crack. This should flatten the chicken completely.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories340
  • Protein40 g
  • Carbohydrates0 g
  • Total Fat20 g
  • Dietary Fiber0 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium0 mg
  • Total Sugars0 g

How To Spatchcock A Chicken

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Janet

    Can I air fry the chicken once I've done the process,and if yes for how long and at what temperatures

    Hi Janet, we haven't tested this recipe in an air fryer. Hope it works well if you give it a try.

  • Tresa

    My first time spatchcocking a chicken and I followed this to make your chicken and cabbage skillet (so delicious btw). This post really helped!

    That's great!

  • Jenn

    This was super helpful, thanks for all the instruction! I followed this and made your chicken and cabbage SO GOOD!

    You're welcome! Happy to hear it went well!