How to Cook Spatchcock Chicken


how to cook a spatchcock chicken

Do you know what Spatchcock Chicken is? I confess I didn't until a couple of years ago. I was watching The Kitchen where they demonstrated all sorts of different ways to cook a whole chicken.

Once I got past the awkwardness of the name and saw how easy it was to cook, I knew I needed to learn how to cook Spatchcock Chicken. 

I decided to roast my Spatchcock Chicken in the oven with my homemade BBQ sauce and boy was it amazing! I'm drooling right now just thinking of it!

What is a Spatchcocked Chicken Anyway?

spatchcock chicken

Spatchcock chicken is just another (and slightly awkward!) way of saying you're going to cut the backbone out of a whole chicken and lay it flat to cook.

The reason people like to cook chicken this way is mainly because the chicken cooks quicker and more evenly. It is also easy to season, monitor the crispiness, and baste.

How to Cut a Spatchcock Chicken

spatchcocked chicken

All you have to do to spatchcock a chicken is turn a chicken over, breast side down, and find the backbone. Take a pair of very sharp kitchen shears and cut along the outside of the backbone on both sides.

You're going to have to use your muscles and you'll hear some bone cracking, but the backbone should remove easily so that you can see the inside of the chicken.

Once the backbone is removed, turn the chicken over so that it is breast side up. Push down on the breast bone so the chicken lies completely flat. You might hear the breast bone crack when you press down.

Chicken Seasonings

To season the chicken, I like to use a simple rub of olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. This is especially good to do if you are going to baste the chicken in some other kind of sauce because it doesn't detract from the flavor of your sauce; it only enhances it!

I rub the olive oil all over the skin (even under the wings) and then I generously sprinkle on the salt and pepper.

whole chicken recipes

I like to roast vegetables with my spatchcock chicken because it makes a complete dinner for the family with a lot less work for me!

I simply cover a cookie sheet with foil and then layer on root vegetables that have been tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper.The layer of vegetables has a dual purpose as it keeps the spatchcock chicken slightly lifted off the pan.

This allows air underneath so that the roasted chicken will cook quicker and more evenly.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

homemade BBQ sauce

Now what is a baked chicken without BBQ sauce? Boring, in my opinion! I live in the south where it is a sin to not have a finger-licking good BBQ sauce to accompany your grilled chicken.

I make an easy homemade BBQ sauce recipe in a mason jar so that I can shake it all up without making a big mess. Then I can baste my chicken with it or pour it out for dipping.

Then I simply screw the lid back on and keep it in the fridge for up to 7 days! 

Here's the BBQ sauce ingredients you will need:

homemade BBQ sauce recipes

This amazing BBQ sauce can be used in any recipe that calls for BBQ sauce and it tastes eons better than anything in a bottle!

I used it to baste my spatchcock chicken. I used a basting brush to smother all that spicy sweet sauce in every crevice of the chicken.

You could also use this BBQ sauce in my amazing Crockpot Baby-Back Ribs recipe! Not only is the sauce amazing, it complements the ribs PERFECTLY!

How to Bake a Spachcocked Chicken

baked whole chickens

You will need to heat the oven to 425 degrees and then bake the spatchcock chicken and vegetables for 25 minutes. Once the first 25 minutes are done, remove the chicken and baste it with more BBQ sauce every 10 minutes.

This ensures that the meat stays moist and flavorful.

You will probably need to do this 3 or 4 times (or 30 to 40 minutes), depending on how large your chicken is.

You will know the chicken is done when a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast meat.

how to cook a spatchcock chicken

Once the chicken is done cooking, let it cool on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes. After that, the chicken should be cool enough for you to cut.

Use a sharp knife to cut the two thighs/legs off. You can separate these two pieces if you like. Then use the knife to remove each wing and then finally the breast meat. Everything should fit beautifully onto a platter if you would like to present it all at once.

My spatchcock chicken didn't make it to the table. I had great intentions for it but before I could get the breast meat off, my sister came over. She hovered over the chicken gobbling it up while it was still hot.

She ended up eating the whole thing! She is growing my niece inside her belly so I couldn't judge her too badly! ;-)​​​​

If you love cooking chicken for dinner like me, you may also enjoy my 30 Minute Chicken and Black Bean Fajitas or my One Pan Lemon Parmesan Chicken.

P.S. If you enjoyed this recipe, or you have any questions, drop me a line in the comment section! Happy cooking y'all!

how to cook a spatchcock chicken

Spatchcock Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce

This recipe explains how to remove the backbone from the chicken for easy cooking and then how to make a delicious BBQ sauce to baste it in.
Prep Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6


Spatchcock Chicken

  • 4-6 lb whole chicken thawed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh chives
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • dash Kosher salt


To Spatchcock the Chicken

  • Thaw, wash, and pat dry your whole chicken. Locate the top of the backbone and turn the chicken over so it is breast side down.
  • Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone until you can remove it completely.
  • Turn the chicken over and pull out the legs and thighs so it is lying flat. Press down on the breast bone until you hear a crack. The chicken should be lying relatively flat with all the skin showing.
  • Rub the olive oil and salt and pepper all over the chicken. Place it on a foil lined cookie sheet. Leave the chicken as is or baste it with your favorite BBQ sauce (my recipe follows). Bake it at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken and baste again with BBQ sauce. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Repeat this step 3 or 4 more times until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees and is charred and crispy on the edges of the skin. (4 lb chickens will take another 30 minutes and 6 lb chickens may need 30 to 40 minutes).
  • Remove the chicken, baste one more time, and let the chicken rest 10 minutes before cutting. To cut, start by cutting off the thighs and legs as a whole. Then cut off the wings. Finally, cut between the breasts and remove the breast meat. Serve immediately with extra BBQ sauce.

To Make the BBQ Sauce

  • Grab a large mason jar or bowl and pour all the BBQ sauce ingredients in.
  • Shake or whisk until all the ingredients are combined.
  • Use to baste the spatchcock chicken or in your other favorite recipe. Sauce can be kept in the fridge in an air tight container for 7 days.

Related in Category


30 Minute Meals

Chicken Dishes, Entrees


  • When you removed the chicken the firdlst time to rebaste it, did you stop cooking the veggies? If not, when were the veggies finished? They look almost as good as the bird!

    • Hi Joy! I actually left the vegetables in the whole time! But since you are pulling out the chicken every 10 minutes to rebaste, you can always take the vegetables whenever you feel like they are done. I love roasted veggies, so if you ever need a step by step tutorial, check out this post!

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