Once you know How to Spatchcock a Chicken, you have a quick and impressive way to bake an entire chicken. Learn how to easily prepare the raw bird by cutting along the spine and flattening it out to cut the cooking time in half. Then, season it with garlic and herbs for a delicious and healthy dinner any night of the week.

A spatchcock chicken is ready to season and bake.

Up until recently I thought roasting an entire chicken in the oven was just one of those things that took planning, time, and patience.

It’s definitely not something you can just whip up last minute!

That is, until I discovered the magic of spatchcocking.

What is spatchcock?

Though it has a somewhat interesting name, spatchcock is simply a way to prepare a whole chicken for cooking. It is thought that spatchcock comes from the term, “dispatch the cock.”

This method involves specifically slicing the chicken along the spine, removing it, and then flattening it out.

After preparing the bird, it is quick and easy to either roast, grill, or broil the chicken.

When you spatchcock a chicken, you have a healthy way to get dinner on the table fast. And all you need is a good pair of kitchen shears!

(Once you learn how to do it, check out this Spatchcock Chicken recipe next!)

A whole chicken and shears are all you need to spatchcock a chicken.

Ingredients

To make this recipe, all you need is one ingredient:

  • Chicken. Size matters, so look for one as close to 3.5 pounds as possible. If it is more than this, it will take a long time for the middle of the chicken to get cooked through and the skin will end up burning.

How to Make Spatchcock Chicken

These are the steps to follow to spatchcock a chicken:

Remove the Spine

You will first want to prepare a large open space on your counter. Then, lay out a cutting board and select a sharp, sturdy pair of kitchen shears. Have some paper towels ready, this can get a little messy.

Set the chicken breast-side down and the spine towards you.

Firmly grasp the shears and cut along the spine on each side for the entire length of the bird.

Stay as close to the backbone as you can. If you aren’t careful, you will cut into the ribs and meat.

After cutting down both sides with the kitchen scissors, it should be easy to remove the spine. Pull it away from the chicken and discard it in the trash. Watch out for juice drippings, though.

The spine is removed from a whole chicken with shears.

Score and Flatten

Carefully score the breastbone with a sharp knife. Don’t go too deep, this step is to make flattening the bird a little easier.

Turn the chicken over on the cutting board. Use the heels of both hands together to firmly press down on the middle of the bird.

Press until you hear a pop, this is the ribs cracking. The chicken should be flattened and resemble a butterfly with the thighs and wing tips pushed out to the side.

Now you are ready to season it for cooking.

Cover with Seasonings

Once the chicken is prepared, you can season it however you like!

Some of the best ways to season are with olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, fresh lemon, vegetables like carrot, onion, and celery, or your favorite herbs like rosemary and thyme.

For an extra delicious trick, make this garlic herb butter. Rub about half the recipe between the skin and the meat, and then melt the other half and brush it along the top.

How Long to Cook a Spatchcock Chicken?

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup. Then, set in a wire rack. This ensures hot air circulates around the entire chicken and cooks it evenly.

Set the seasoned chicken breast-side up on the rack.

Bake at 425℉ for 40 to 50 minutes, depending on the size. If your bird is bigger than 4 pounds, it will take closer to an hour.

When a thermometer reads 165℉, the chicken is done!

Serve and Enjoy!

If you have enough drippings, then you can always make a quick gravy.

But even if you don’t, you can easily make gravy without drippings.

Pair this roast chicken with your favorite sides and enjoy!

Serve spatchcock chicken at your next party.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: You can slice and flatten the chicken up to one day before baking. However, keep tightly wrapped in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
  • To Store: Place leftovers in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • To Freeze: Be sure the chicken didn’t sit at room temperature for long after cooking. Then, remove the meat from the bones, store in an airtight container, keep in the freezer for up to 4 months.
  • To Reheat: Either pop the chicken back in a 350℉ oven until heated through, or use the microwave.

FAQs

What side do you cut to spatchcock a chicken?

You will cut along the spine of the chicken. Place the bird breast-side down to remove the spine, then flip it over to flatten it out.

What is a spatchcock cut?

Spatchcock cut is a method to remove the spine from a whole chicken, then flatten it out so it resembles a butterfly.

Is it worth it to spatchcock a chicken?

It is definitely worth it to spatchcock a chicken because it cooks faster and more evenly, so all the meat is tender and juicy while the skin is perfectly golden and crispy.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Be choosy. Pick a high-quality chicken that is no more than 4 pounds for the best results.
  • Get in there. It feels weird, but you need to push the kitchen shears into the spine area to cut deep enough to remove it.
  • Push hard. Really use some force on the heel of your hands when you are pressing down on the chicken.
  • Wait for the pop. Be sure you hear the cracking sound when pressing.
  • Season well. Don’t skimp on the flavor. Opt for lemons, fresh veggies, and this delicious garlic herb butter.
A baking dish with a wire rack has a spatchcock-cut chicken on it.

What to Serve with Spatchcock Chicken

Pair this easy Spatchcock Chicken with any of these flavorful sides for a complete meal:

More Chicken Recipes

If you’re looking for some other healthy chicken recipes, then try one of these next:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 1 vote

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

Once you know How to Spatchcock a Chicken, you have a quick and impressive way to bake an entire chicken. Learn how to easily prepare the raw bird by cutting along the spine and flattening it out to cut the cooking time in half.
A spatchcock-cut chicken is on a plate.
Yield 6 servings
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
Total 45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 3-4 lb. whole chicken

Instructions 

  • Place the chicken on a cutting board with the breasts facing downwards and the spine upwards.
  • Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the spine across the length of the bird. Try to stay as close as possible to the spine to avoid cutting too much into the ribs and meat.
  • Score the breast bone with a knife and then flip the chicken over. Press down with the heels of your hands to crack the ribs and flatten the bird. Place the chicken on a wire rack that is on top of an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Season according to your preference and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, depending on size.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 1 vote

Video

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: You can slice and flatten the chicken up to one day before baking. However, keep tightly wrapped in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
  • To Store: Place leftover chicken in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • To Freeze: Be sure the chicken didn’t sit at room temperature for long after cooking. Then, remove the meat from the bones, store in an airtight container, and freeze for up to 4 months.
  • To Reheat: Either pop the chicken back in a 350℉ oven until heated through, or use the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 488kcal, Protein: 42g, Fat: 34g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 170mg, Sodium: 159mg, Potassium: 429mg, Vitamin A: 318IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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