Spatchcock chicken is hands down the quickest + easiest way to cook a whole chicken. Crispy + juicy at the same time.
Today’s post is more of a “how to” rather than a recipe. Learning how to spatchcock a chicken can be a game changer when it comes to cooking a whole chicken.
What is spatchcocking?
Spatchcocking is a method of preparing a whole chicken for cooking. It involves removing the entire backbone so that the chicken can lay flat like a book which makes it cook more quickly and evenly. This process is also referred to as “butterflying.” The end result is a crispy outside, a juicy inside, and tons of flavor. Spatchcock chicken is perfect for baking, grilling, or broiling.
It sounds complicated, but it is actually incredibly easy and straight-forward. All you need is a good pair of kitchen scissors.
How to spatchcock a chicken
If you’ve never cut into a whole chicken, don’t worry. You can do this. Here’s how:
1. Prep chicken by removing any gizzards and patting dry. Place on a large plate or metal baking sheet breast side down.
2. Using a good pair of kitchen scissors, cut along one side of the backbone all the way from the tail to the neck. Repeat on other side. (Save the neck bone for homemade broth.)
3. Flip chicken over and open it like a book. Press firmly on breastbone to crack the breastbone and to flatten.
4. Snip off wing tips as they tend to burn during cooking. (Save them for making broth.)
❤️ Your spatchcock chicken is now ready to be seasoned and cooked.
You can watch a video of it being done HERE.
How to season a spatchcock chicken
The possibilities are endless. You can use whatever seasoning or spices that you like. I’ve found that I get the crispiest and juiciest chicken when I make a compound butter for under the skin and use a melted or liquid fat on top of the skin.
A compound butter is softened butter that is whipped with herbs and seasonings. I LOVE using fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon zest in my compound butter because they add so much flavor. But you can use any seasoning spice that you like. The compound butter is spread underneath the skin of the bird.
For the outside skin of the chicken, I usually use melted ghee or avocado oil to get a nice, crispy finish. I find that if I use butter, it tends to burn a bit.
How to cook a spatchcock chicken
Like I said earlier, you can grill, bake or broil it. Today’s I’m going to show you how I bake it in a cast iron skillet.
The chicken comes out super moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. I like to add a little extra flavor and moisture by making a lemon herb pan sauce. Totally optional but highly recommended.
When I learned this technique for cooking a whole chicken, it was a total game changer for me. It’s quick. It’s easy. And it’s always a crowd pleaser.
The recipe below walks you through the steps and features a bright and vibrant lemon herb flavor. I think you guys are really going to love it.
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- 3.5 to 4 pound chicken
- 3 tbsp butter, softened
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped (like rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, etc)
- zest from one lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp melted ghee or avocado oil
- extra salt for sprinkling
- 3 tbsp bone broth or water
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped
- Preheat oven to 425’F.
- To spatchcock chicken: Prep chicken by removing any gizzards and patting dry. Place on a large plate or metal baking sheet breast side down. Using a good pair of kitchen scissors, cut along one side of the backbone all the way from the tail to the neck. Repeat on other side. (Save the neck bone for homemade broth.) Flip chicken over and open it like a book. Press firmly on breastbone to crack the breastbone and to flatten. Snip off wing tips as they tend to burn during cooking. (Save them for making broth.)
- To make compound butter: mash together softened butter, fresh herbs, lemon zest, garlic, and salt.
- To season: Place chicken, skin side up, into a large greased cast iron skillet. Run your hands under the chicken skin on the breast and legs to separate it from the chicken body. Place dollops of compound butter all over underneath the skin and then press down over the skin to spread around.
- Drizzle melted ghee or avocado oil over the outside skin and sprinkle lightly with a bit of salt.
- Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes, until a thermometer in the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees. Times will vary depending on size of chicken. Remove from oven and place chicken on large plate to rest while you make the pan sauce.
- To make lemon herb pan sauce: To the chicken drippings already in the pan, add broth (or water) and fresh lemon juice. Bring to a simmer on the stove top for about 1-2 minutes to reduce slightly, whisking frequently. Add any juices that have pooled on the plate from the chicken. Turn off heat and add fresh herbs. Pour pan sauce over entire chicken OR reserve it to serve individually as you eat.
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