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Weird name, amazing results: there’s no need to be intimidated by this spatchcock chicken recipe! Not only is it delicious, but it’s easier than it looks and it’s definitely my new favorite way to roast chicken. I’ll show you how to spatchcock a chicken, the best way to season it, how to roast spatchcock chicken in the oven, and my tips for carving it as well. Easy chicken dinner, here we come!
While this version may be my current favorite, be sure to add it to your simple chicken dinner rotation with other basics, like baked chicken breast and roasted chicken legs. When you want something a little more fancy – but still super easy! – take it up a notch with cheesy bacon ranch chicken, balsamic baked chicken thighs, or prosciutto wrapped chicken.
What Is Spatchcock Chicken?
Spatchcock chicken is another term for butterflied chicken. You essentially cut the chicken in two (but leave it connected) so that it’s flat. It’s the same method I use for spatchcock turkey!
Not only does baking a spatchcock chicken take less time to roast, but it also cooks more evenly and ensures that the light meat of the chicken doesn’t dry out, while the darker meat finishes cooking through. The cooking process is similar to roasted chicken and vegetables, but with extra flavor from leaving the skin and bones attached.
Why You’ll Love This Spatchcock Chicken Recipe
- Crispy skin on the outside, juicy chicken on the inside
- Flavorful, with fresh herbs, butter, and garlic
- Cooks more evenly than a whole chicken
- Ready in half the time, compared to a whole roasted chicken
- One of the best ways to roast a chicken for maximum flavor and minimal time
Ingredients You’ll Need
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for spatchcock chicken, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
For the chicken:
I used a 5-pound chicken, but this recipe will work fine with any size chicken. The cook time will need to be adjusted.
For the compound butter:
- Butter – Butter normally can’t handle the high heat of the oven, but when you put it underneath the skin of the chicken, it works perfectly to keep the meat juicy and flavorful. Make sure it’s unsalted, as we’re salting the chicken separately, and softened at room temperature, so that you can mash it easily.
- Herbs – I used fresh parsley and my homemade Italian seasoning blend. Feel free to use any herbs you like here. Rosemary and thyme also work well.
- Garlic – Get fresh cloves so that you can crush them. Alternatively, you can also use minced garlic (either fresh or from a jar), but I find the flavor disperses better with crushed.
Compound butter variations: Try different kinds of compound butter here — any of them would be delicious for making spatchcock chicken! A teaspoon of lemon zest added to the compound butter also works well.
For seasoning over the skin:
- Olive oil – We use olive oil over the skin, because it can handle the direct heat in the oven. (Butter would burn here.) Avocado oil is also fine to use.
- Paprika – I used regular, but smoked paprika would also be delicious.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
Seasoning variations: Other spices, such as garlic powder or onion powder, can be added over the skin.
How To Spatchcock A Chicken
Before we get to roasting, we need to learn how to spatchcock a chicken. Don’t worry, while this chicken may look complicated, it’s actually quite simple:
- Cut away the backbone. Place chicken breast side down on a cutting board, and use sharp kitchen shears to cut away the spine. To do so, cut along each side of the spine.
FYI: Wondering what to do with the spine? You can discard it, or use it to make gravy.
It will look like this with the spine cut away:
- Flatten. Use your hands to open chicken like a book, then flip it over, open side down. Use the palm of your hand to push down on breast bone, which will allow the chicken to lay flat.
- Prep chicken for roasting. Transfer chicken to a wire rack fitted over a rimmed baking sheet, breast side facing up.
How To Cook Spatchcock Chicken In The Oven
Now that our chicken has been spatchcocked, it’s ready to season and roast:
- Make compound butter. In a small bowl, mash together softened butter, parsley, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic.
- Season underneath the skin. Separate the chicken skin from meat by running your hand in between the two layers. Spread dollops of compound butter mixture underneath the skin and press down on top of skin to spread the butter throughout the chicken meat.
- Season on top. Drizzle the top of the chicken with olive oil, then season all over with paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Roast. Roast chicken for 40-50 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. (Temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees after you take it out of the oven.)
- Rest. Let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes before carving – this will help it stay juicy. I like to serve with lemons (cut into wedges).
How long to cook spatchcock chicken?
The exact spatchcock chicken cooking time will vary based on size of bird and exact oven temperatures, but for a 5 lb bird, it’s about 40-50 minutes.
How do you know when it’s done?
The best way to tell when your oven baked spatchcock chicken is done cooking, is when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F — it will rise to 165 degrees as it rests.
Use an instant-read thermometer to be sure. Even better, I like to use an alarm thermometer like this, which will go off when the right internal temperature is reached. This is a fool-proof way that will leave you with perfectly cooked, juicy chicken every time.
How To Carve A Spatchcock Chicken
After you allow the baked spatchcock chicken to rest, it’s time to carve. Here’s the best approach:
- Cut off legs from the breast. (Both thigh and drumstick.)
- Separate drumsticks from thighs by cutting through the joint.
- Remove breast and wings from by running a knife along the breast bone and then rib cage to gently pull meat away from carcass.
- Separate wings from breast by cutting through skin and connective tissue where they meet.
- Slice breasts in half if desired and serve!
Tips For Best Results
- Season both under and over the skin. We use butter underneath the skin and olive oil on top, since butter has a lower smoke point and is more prone to burning. It’s the best of both worlds.
- Tuck the wing tips. While you’re prepping the bird, tuck the wing tips underneath the breast if you leave them on, or cut them off, to prevent burning.
- Roast on a rack. Like many of my roasting recipes where I want a crispy result (see: bacon in the oven or bacon wrapped asparagus!), I highly recommend roasting spatchcock chicken on a baking sheet fitted with an oven-safe rack. Doing this increases the air flow around the chicken, making it cook more evenly and helping the skin crisp up on all sides.
- Use a meat thermometer. I mentioned this already, but can’t emphasize it enough! The key to juicy spatchcock chicken is to take it out at the right time. Use an alarm thermometer like this or instant-read thermometer like this to be sure.
- Make it a sheet pan meal. This isn’t required, but makes dinner that much easier! To turn this spatchcock chicken recipe into a sheet pan meal, chop your favorite vegetables while the chicken is in the oven and toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper. When there is about 25 minutes left for the chicken (slightly before halfway through), very quickly take it out, arrange the vegetables around the chicken, and place back in the oven to finish roasting.
- Let it rest. While it’s awfully tempting to dig into the chicken the minute it comes out of the oven, but waiting 10-15 minutes will ensure your chicken stays nice and juicy.
- Make ahead: You can prep a few items ahead, but this spatchcock baked chicken recipe is best served right after cooking if you want it hot. To prep ahead, spatchcock the chicken and make compound butter. You could also do all the buttering and seasoning up to a day in advance.
- Store leftovers: Like most chicken recipes, keep leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
- Freeze: You can freeze leftover chicken. Carve and remove all of the meat from the bones before freezing.
- Reheat: Reheat the chicken in the microwave or a 350 degree F oven, just until warm, so that you don’t dry it out. If you want it extra juicy and don’t mind an extra step, use the same method I use for reheating my prized reverse sear steaks: preheat the oven to 250 or 300 degrees F, place the chicken in a baking dish with a little broth at the bottom, seal with foil, and heat for about 10 minutes (for carved chicken pieces), or until warm.
What To Serve With Spatchcock Chicken
- Salads – Try Greek salad, wedge salads, or marinated artichoke salad.
- Vegetables – Veggies such as mashed cauliflower, roasted vegetables, Instant Pot broccoli, or bacon wrapped green beans work great.
- Soups – Soups such as creamy roasted cauliflower soup, Italian sausage kale soup, or vegetable soup pair well with spatchcock roast chicken.
More Easy Roasted Chicken Recipes
- Roasted Chicken And Vegetables
- Baked Chicken Breast
- Crispy Drumsticks
- Crock-Pot Chicken
- Air Fryer Whole Chicken
- Sharp Kitchen Shears – The best tool for spatchcocking a chicken.
- Alarm Thermometer – I love this for all my meat and poultry dishes. It’s hands off and ensures you’ll take it out of the oven at just the right time. Alternatively, an accurate instant read thermometer like this also works.
- Baking Sheet With Rack – Using the rack creates air flow, ensuring the BEST crispy oven roasted spatchcock chicken.
How To Spatchcock A Chicken
Spatchcock Chicken Recipe In The Oven
This spatchcock chicken recipe in the oven turns out perfectly juicy every time, with super crispy skin. Learn how to spatchcock a chicken step by step — it's EASY!
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C). Place an oven safe rack over a baking sheet.
If possible, let the chicken rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting. (This will ensure more even cooking.)
How to spatchcock a chicken:
Place the chicken onto a cutting board, breast side down. Use kitchen shears to cut away the spine. (You can discard it or use it to make gravy.)
Use your hands to open up the chicken like a book, then flip it over, open side down. Use the heel of your hand to push down on the chicken breast, which will crush the breast bone and allow the chicken to lay flat.
Transfer the butterflied chicken to the rack over the baking sheet, breast side up.
Make compound butter:
To make compound butter, mash together butter, parsley, Italian seasoning, and crushed garlic.
Run your hands under the chicken skin on the breast and legs to separate it from the chicken underneath. Place dollops of compound butter all over underneath the skin and then press down over the skin to spread around underneath.
Drizzle olive oil over the chicken, over the skin. Sprinkle with sea salt, paprika, and black pepper.
Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until a thermometer in the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees F (71 degrees C). (Temperature will rise about 5 degrees while resting.)
Remove chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it.
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Serving size: 1/6 entire chicken
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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I absolutely LOVE this way of roasting chicken! It’s not only time saving, it’s moist and flavorful, so delicious😋
I made this for my family last night!! Everyone loved it! First time ever making a whole chicken like this!! I did have to cook mine a bit longer than the time you mentioned and turned it down to 400 after the 50 minutes because I didn’t want my skin to burn!! But other than that it was really good!!
For those having issues with the drippings smoking when it hits the pan, I highly suggest lining the bottom with some parchment paper and then adding some water at the bottom!! I had zero problems!!
Hello. I do not have kitchen shears, is there another way to remove the backbone? Thank you, Christine.
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Christine, You can use a very sharp knife, but you will have to be very careful.
This recipe created a delicious and juicy bird with perfect crunchy skin….. BUT the fillings burned as the hit the pan and billowed smoke out of the oven. I had to put water into the pan to prevent but sing but it still smoked throughout the process. My oven is not dirty. The water evaporated and the dripping would burn and then smoke again. Turned it down to 425 and cooked longer. Wish I could have stopped the smoking because the results were amazing…. But the smoke was just horrible.
After a request from my grandson, I roasted a spatchcocked chicken following this recipe on a bed of carrots, potatoes, shallots and a whole head of garlic halved. It was the most moist and delicious chicken I have ever made and I have made a few in my time!
Unfortunately the comments about the splatter and smoke are spot on. If you’re going to make this recipe be super careful. I even tried your tip about adding a little water and it just made it worse. Just be careful.
The outside charred and the meat was too tough to cut.
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
Hi Tim, It sounds like your chicken overcooked. The time needed can vary depending on your oven and the size of your chicken. Did you use a meat thermometer?
This is the first time trying this method. I am impressed and the chicken looks amazing. How do you get the butter mix to not splatter your oven. I had to take the chicken out part way and switch pans because I was scared of staring a fire lol
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
I’m so glad you liked it, Jessica! I didn’t have this issue with splattering, but if you have this issue, you could add a bit of water to the pan (such that it does not reach the rack) which should prevent the drippings from splattering.
Do you cover the chicken while baking then remove foil so it can get roasted?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Lenny, No need to cover the chicken with foil.
THIS SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN RECIPE IS THE BEST BAKED CHICKEN I HAVE EVER FIXED; SO JUICY AND GREAT FLAVOR. I KNOW THE SKIN IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU, BUT I COULDN’T RESIST. The only thing different FLAVOR I added was squeeze fresh lemon over chicken before baking. THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR RECIPE!
Y’all OFF THE ROOF SCRUMPTIOUS AND MOIST. YOU MUST BAKE THIS CHICKEN RECIPE. IT IS A 💯!!
So juicy! New and only way I will now roast a chicken. The seasoning is spot on delish.
SERIOUSLY to die for!!!! First time making Spatchcock chicken and such an easy and great recipe that this will definitely be going into the regular rotation.
Is the temp at 450 correct? This nearly burnt our house down! I wonder why ours did this. What rack did you cook it on? I used the middle rack and had to cut the temp waaay down.
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Kelly, Yes, that is the correct temperature and I cooked on the middle rack. I’m not quite sure what issue you had with it.
Great recipe!! The compound butter makes the chicken taste so good!
So glad you shared this! This is the tastiest chicken. It has the perfect golden color & the outside is crisp!
Did you leave the temp at 450 the whole time?
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Maureen, Yes, that is correct.
It was the BEST chicken ever! Usually I am a slow eater, but my husband couldn’t believe how fast I was eating it. That’s cause I couldn’t keep it out of my mouth!! LOL! The inside was so juicy while the outside was nice and crispy. Perfect!
I keep coming back for this recipe! Anytime I want to make a chicken this is the recipe I use! Thank you so much
Very sorry, I appreciate the effort you put into this website but too quick critiques. First of all this article is way too long for cooking a chicken, second of all the most important part is the temperature and you don’t say WHERE to check the chicken for internal temperature of 165 degrees….
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Rob, By cutting out the spine and flattening the chicken out on a pan, you are helping it to cook evenly. Checking the thickest area of the breasts or the thighs will give you an accurate temperature reading.
Great recipe! Love having it for weeknight dinners. Fairly easy to prepare and delicious!
First time spatchcocker here, but your images help so much. It looks so much easier than expected, so you’ve given me the confidence to try this.