How to Spatchcock A Chicken


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Learn how to spatchcock (butterfly) a chicken! This easy method guarantees a perfectly roasted chicken in about half the time. Master this technique with 3 easy steps and a solid pair of poultry shears.

A spatchcocked chicken on a table with lemons.

Want a fast-cooking whole chicken with the crispiest skin possible? Look no further than spatchcock chicken. Yes, I think we can all agree that “spatchcock” is a funny word to say, but trust me, you’ll love this cooking method for creating juicy, flavorful chicken with golden, crispy skin.

What Is Spatchcock Chicken?

It’s a simple process of butterflying chicken (or other poultry) by removing the backbone, then flattening for cooking. And while it might sound intimidating, this technique is much easier than you think.

Why Choose This Method?

Spatchcocking is one secret to a perfectly cooked chicken. But here’s a few other reasons that might turn you into a spatchcock lover:

  • Evenly cooked meat. Because the chicken lays flat, the entire chicken will cook more evenly. No more dry or overcooked chicken breasts.
  • More crispy skin. When you roast a whole chicken the underside never gets as crispy as the top. This method gives you more of that crispy skin to enjoy!
  • Evenly seasoned meat. With the chicken laying flat, you can easily season every inch of the chicken with rubs or marinades.
  • Saves time. This method can shave off about 20 minutes of roasting time compared to regular roasted or grilled chicken. Who doesn’t love getting dinner on the table faster?

How To Spatchcock A Chicken – In Just 3 Steps

Prep the chicken

First, you’ll want to remove the neck and giblets from your whole chicken. Then, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and place it breast-side down to prep for cutting.

A raw whole chicken on a table before spatchcocking.

Remove the backbone

Using good quality poultry shears, cut alongside one side of the backbone from the tail to the neck. Then repeat on the other side and remove the backbone.

Process of spatchcocking a chicken and removing backbone.

Flatten the chicken

Flip the chicken over so that the legs, breast and thighs are all facing upwards. Then flatten it by pressing down with your hands. You’ll hear some of the bone cracks here, but don’t worry! That means you’re doing it right.

Once it’s flattened, it’s ready to roast! Check out my recipe for lemon garlic spatchcocked chicken – it’s super easy and flavorful.

Spatchcocking chicken by pressing the chicken down flat with hands.

Spatchcock Chicken Tips

  • Let the chicken come to room temperature. Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before roasting. This will help reduce the cooking time and ensure an evenly cooked chicken.
  • Use a good pair of shears. Don’t try to cut the chicken with regular scissors! Get yourself some heavy duty kitchen shears – they make this process easy.
  • Tuck the wing tips. Don’t forget to tuck the wing tips to prevent burning.
  • Save the backbone. This piece is perfect for making homemade broths or chicken stock for gravy.

More Ways To Prep Chicken

Chicken serves as the perfect blank canvas for so many recipes. Especially when it comes to meal prepping for the week. Here’s a few other delicious ways to prep and cook your chicken.

How To Spatchcock A Chicken

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


A spatchcocked chicken is great for even cooking, tender meat, and crispy skin every time. Plus it takes half the time of regular roasted chicken!


  • 1 whole chicken, (about 4 pounds)
  • good quality kitchen shears


  • Remove the neck and giblets from your chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Then place it breast side down on your cutting board.
    A whole chicken about to be spatchcocked on a table.
  • Using poultry shears, cut alongside one side of the backbone from the tail to the neck. Then repeat on the other side.
    Spatchcocking a chicken by cutting down the side of backbone.
  • Remove the backbone from the chicken. If you'd like, save and use this in stocks and broths.
    Backbone removed from a spatchcock chicken on a table.
  • Flip the chicken over so the breast side is up. Then flatten it by pressing down with your hands. You'll hear a crack, and it should flatten completely. Your chicken is now spatchcocked and ready to roast, just remember to tuck the wing tips before roasting. Check out my recipe for lemon garlic spatchcocked chicken - it's super easy and flavorful!
    A spatchcocked chicken being flattened by hands.


Calories: 409kcal | Protein: 35g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 133mg | Potassium: 360mg | Vitamin A: 267IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to spatchcock a chicken, spatchcock chicken
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!


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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This makes it so much easier to evenly season the meat, evenly cook the meat and crisp up all the skin. The pictures were really helpful too. Thank you!!5 stars

  2. Well hoot – I am so glad I saw this tutorial because I’m planning on trying to spatchcock for the first time and didn’t know that backbone had to come out like that. Makes total sense now that I see it.5 stars

  3. Thanks. This is such a lovely and interesting informative post. Will definitely help to make cooking skills easier and better too.5 stars