Spatchcock Chicken is the best way to roast or grill a whole chicken because this method gives you chicken that is evenly cooked inside and out. By using this cooking method, you get flavorful crispy skin with juicy, tender meat on the inside. The best part is that you can season it in many different ways and roast it in the oven, grill it, or smoke it.
Truly, one of the best ways to make delicious, flavorful, and juicy chicken! This show stopping chicken dinner is quite simple to whip up as well. As simple as it may be, it’s also a beautiful centerpiece to the dinner table when entertaining for guests or just for a weeknight family dinner.
Great aspect of preparing a spatchcock chicken is how customizable it is in both preparation and flavor profiles! You can roast it in the oven, grill it, or smoke it.
Depending on your tastes, you can also alter the ingredients I have listed in my wet rub to better suit your palate. However, if I do say so myself, by wet rub recipe is loaded with flavor and always yields the most mouthwatering chicken that’s full of flavor!
So, what is a spatchcock chicken?
To put it simply, a “spatchcock” chicken is basically a butterflied chicken. To spatchcock the chicken means to remove the back bone and butterfly it out.
This technique helps the chicken cook evenly throughout, get crispier skin, and the cooking time is also very short. The term “spatchcock” is told to be from the 17th centrally and came from the saying “spatching the cock,” which means to open the bird carcass and cook it.
While this unique method of cooking a whole chicken may seem cumbersome, it’s actually quite simple! This recipe takes about an hour from start to finish, and only 15 minutes of that time is spent in preparation. The rest of the 45 minutes is spent cooking the bird.
Ingredients for Spatchcock Chicken
For the wet rub, you will need:
- Oil – olive oil, avocado oil, canola or vegetable oil are all acceptable to use in this recipe.
- Brown Sugar – light or dark will work.
- Salt – for best results, use coarse kosher salt.
- Black Pepper – I always use freshly ground black pepper, as it yields the most noticeable flavor.
- Paprika – Regular or smoked paprika are both delicious, it just depends on what flavor you’d prefer.
- Ground Mustard – Ground mustard is both tangy and aromatic, helping to make this chicken truly mouthwatering.
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Thyme
- Chili Powder – I like using chipotle chili powder best, but another chili powder will work as well.
The butter rub calls for just:
- Butter – Use unsalted because seasoning mix already has salt. Make sure that it’s softened to room temperature prior to using.
- Seasoning Mix – Use the seasoning mix as listed above.
Finally, the potatoes:
- Small Potatoes – If you’d like, you can also mix in carrots or other root vegetables with the potatoes.
- Olive Oil
- Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
Remove the whole chicken from the packaging and remove any giblets. (Save the giblets and the back bone for homemade chicken stock, if you’d like.)
Next, cut off the excess fat that is often found at the bottom of the chicken, near the tail. Place the chicken breast down on a large cutting board. All you need is kitchen shears to remove the backbone.
Using the kitchen shears, cut along the spine on one side from top to bottom and then on the other side of the backbone.
Flip the chicken breast side up. Using the bottom part of the palm of your hand, put a lot of pressure in the center, right between the two breasts. Push down to flatten the breast plate until you hear crack. The chicken is now ready for a rub down and cooking! It’s really that easy.
How to Cook Spatchcock Chicken in the Oven
Combine all ingredients for the seasoning mix together in a small bowl and mix it well. Set aside a little bit to be added to butter and the rest, mix with oil.
Combine potatoes with oil and seasoning as well, in a large mixing bowl, and mix to coat them all evenly.
First, you’ll want to mix the butter mixture and then spread it evenly in between the chicken breast and the skin. To do that, gently slide your fingers between the breast meat and skin and then stuff some butter in there.
Spread the wet rub all over the chicken evenly. You’ll want to estimate about 1/3 of it to go on the under side and about 2/3 to go over the skin side.
Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet, skin side up, and surround it with potatoes.
In the oven, spatchcock chicken will need about 40-45 minutes, give or take 5 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. Cook the chicken at 425°F and use a meat thermometer to double check it for doneness. The chicken should be cooked to 165°F internally, and remember to check the temperature in the center of the thickest part, not touching the bone.
How to Grill a Spatchcock Chicken
Of course, this is one of my favorite ways to cook spatchcock chicken, but you have to be careful with the seasoning. Don’t use sugar when grilling chicken or it will burn.
Grill the spatchcock chicken over indirect heat for 35-40 minutes, until about 160°F, and then move it over direct heat for a couple of minutes on each side to finish cooking and crisp up.
If you want more details and tips for grilled spatchcock chicken, make sure to check out my grilling site!
I love to cook whole small potatoes right with the chicken because potatoes cooked in the chicken juices are absolutely heavenly!
My family like a mix of red and gold potatoes, but if it was up to me, it would all be gold. Gold potatoes come out so soft and tender!
You can also throw in other root vegetables with the potatoes. Carrots, winter squashes, and other dense and hearty vegetables will take about the same time to cook.
If you want to add green beans and asparagus, do it during the last 20 minutes of cooking time. Same would be for mushrooms, summer squash, and zucchini.
More Favorite Chicken Dinner Recipes:
Chicken Kiev – a classic Eastern European dish of tender, juicy, chicken rolled with flavorful herb butter and wrapped in a crispy coat of breading
Chicken Fricassee – this is a braised chicken recipe but stewed in a rich cream sauce along with vegetables
Roast Chicken – This roast chicken is seasoned generously and stuffed with lemon, garlic, and herbs for delicious flavor inside and out
Chicken Fajitas – these Chicken Fajitas are so easy and flavorful made with homemade fajita marinade, peppers, and onions
- 4 lb whole chicken
- 1/4 cup olive oil, avocado oil, canola, or vegetables oil
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika sweet or smoked
- 1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder or another chili powder
- 2 tbsp butter softened
- 2 tsp seasoning mix from above
- 2-3 lbs small potatoes can mix with carrots or other root vegetables
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 tsp coarse kosher salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
Before preparing the chicken:
- Pull the butter out about 30 minutes before starting to cook to soften it.
- Combine all the seasoning (not the oil) in a small mixing bowl and mix well. Take out 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix and add it to butter. Thoroughly combine softened butter and seasoning. Mix the rest of the seasoning with oil for the wet rub. Set both aside.
To spatchcock the chicken:
- Remove the whole chicken from the packaging and remove any giblets. (Save giblets and then the back bone for homemade chicken stock.) Cut off excess fat that is often found at the bottom of the chicken, neat the tail.
- Place chicken breast down on a large cutting board. All you need is kitchen shears to remove the backbone. Using the kitchen shears, cut along the spine on one side from top to bottom and then on the other side of the backbone.
- Flip the chicken beast side up. Using the bottom part of the palm of your hand, put a lot of pressure in the center, right between the two breasts. Push down to flatten the breast plate until the breast plate cracks under the pressure and chicken evens out.
Cooking the chicken:
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Carefully, separate the skin from the beast meat. Flatten pieces of seasoned butter and slide it on the breast under the skin. Try to even it out as much as you can.
- Rub outside of the entire chicken with the wet rub. Try to spread about 2/3 of the wet rub on the skin side and about 1/3 of the wet rub.
- Cover a rimmed backing sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up and lightly grease the foil. Place chicken beast side up onto the aluminum foil.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix potatoes with oil and seasoning and spread it all around the chicken.
- Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. (You can test internal temperature of the chicken part of the breast using a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked to 165°.)
- Let chicken rest for about 10 minutes before serving.