This spatchcock chicken is flattened for uniform cooking, then flavored with garlic and herb butter and roasted to golden brown perfection. A spatchcocked chicken cooks significantly faster than a traditional roast chicken, and comes out tender and juicy every time!
Roasted chicken is a comfort food classic that never goes out of style. There are so many different ways to roast a chicken, from rotisserie style chicken to a slow cooker chicken. This spatchcock chicken is one of my all time favorite methods to prepare a whole bird!
If you’re never had a spatchcock chicken, you’re missing out. It’s a delicious dish that’s cooked in less time, yet is still packed with flavor. Serve your chicken with a variety of side dishes, and watch then rave reviews come in.
How to make spatchcock chicken
Spatchcocking a chicken is surprisingly easy and worth the effort. Simply place the bird on its breast and locate the spine. On either side of the backbone cut down the length of the spine using poultry shears or a good set of kitchen shears. You want to cut through the ribs close to the spine. Cut all the way down the length of the spine on both sides until you can remove the backbone from the chicken.
With the backbone removed, find the cartilage over the top of the breastbone on the inside of the bird where the two breasts join together near the neck. Use a knife to cut into that cartilage to release the breastbone and allow the chicken to lay flat when you turn it over. Finally, tuck the wings under the rib cage to protect them as they cook.
I recommend brining your chicken before you spatchcock it. Coat your chicken in garlic and herb butter, then bake it until golden brown and cooked through.
Tips for the perfect spatchcock chicken
- If you get stuck cutting the backbone out, try cutting a little closer or farther from the backbone until you make progress.
- You may need to snip some bones using just the tip of the scissors.
- I like to start cutting from the neck end of the bird. However, if you get stuck, try snipping from the tail end of the chicken and have the cuts meet in the middle.
- I prefer to use an organic chicken as I think they have a better flavor.
- You can prepare the butter mixture up to 2 days in advance. Just be sure to soften the butter before you spread it onto the chicken.
- I recommend letting the chicken sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before you apply the butter. If you put the butter on a really cold chicken, the butter will harden and it will be more difficult to get even coverage.
Do you have to brine a chicken?
You do not have to brine a chicken, but I highly recommend taking the time to do it. Chicken is a naturally lean meat which mean it’s more likely to dry out. When a chicken is placed into brine, it absorbs some of the brine which helps to both keep it moist during cooking, and also to season it all the way through.
When you’re working with a brined chicken, even if you overcook it a bit, it should still come out tender and juicy. I’ve included my favorite chicken brine in the recipe card below. If you choose to brine your chicken, be sure to reduce the amount of salt your seasoned butter so that your final product is not overly salted.
Spatchcock Chicken Flavor Variations
While this is a traditional chicken with garlic and herb flavors, you can add other ingredients to the mix to customize your chicken to your tastes.
- Mexican: Omit the thyme and rosemary. Add 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon coriander to the butter.
- Cajun: Add 2-3 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning to the garlic and herb butter.
- Moroccan: Leave out the thyme and rosemary from the butter mixture. Stir in 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon coriander and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric.
How do you know when chicken is done?
The easiest way to tell when your chicken is done is to use a thermometer. A chicken is safe to eat when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken thigh reads 165 degrees F. I use an electronic probe thermometer which I insert into the chicken at the beginning of the cook time, and I monitor the progress throughout so that I know when to pull my chicken out of the oven. I also make sure to check the temperature of the chicken breast, which should also register at least 165 degrees F.
This spatchcock chicken is on my regular dinner rotation. Serve it with mashed potatoes and a vegetable such as brussels sprouts or asparagus for a complete meal. Your family will thank you!
More chicken recipes you’ll enjoy
- Cornflake Chicken
- Moroccan Chicken
- Slow Cooker Chicken Breast
- Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken
- Baked Chicken Wings
Spatchcock Chicken Video
- 5 pound chicken giblets removed
- 1 recipe chicken brine optional but highly recommended
- 6 tablespoons butter softened
- 1/2 teaspoon salt use 1 teaspoon if you're not brining your chicken
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley leaves minced
- Prepare the chicken brine according to recipe directions. Brine for 8 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the brine. Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat it dry.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spatchcock the chicken by removing the backbone with poultry shears or kitchen shears. With the backbone removed, cut the cartilage over the breastbone on the inside of the bird where the two breasts join together near the neck. Cut the cartilage to release the breastbone and allow the chicken to lay flat when you turn it over. Finally, tuck the wings under the rib cage to protect them as they cook.
- Make a butter rub by mixing softened butter with salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, rosemary and parsley.
- Generously coat the outside of the chicken with the butter mixture. Loosen the skin of the chicken and rub some of the butter mixture under the skin.
- Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken (breast or thigh). Bake for 40 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees F in both the thigh and the breast.
- Remove the chicken from the oven. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then carve and serve.