How to Spatchcock a Chicken

Spatchcocking—splitting a chicken by removing the backbone so you can flatten it—results in crispier skin and even, quick cooking

The term “spatchcock” is rumored to be a 17th century shorthand for “dispatching the cock”, meaning to open a chicken carcass in order to cook it. This technique involves splitting the chicken by removing the backbone so you can flatten it, resulting in crispier skin and even, quicker cooking.

A spatchcocked bird is great in the oven for a quick roast chicken. Rub a 3-4 pound chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast at 450° F for about 40 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Spatchcocking is also ideal for a chicken you want to grill—by laying flat, it easily chars and absorbs smoke's flavor, while staying juicier (and prettier) than it would if you cut it into pieces. After lighting a grill, rub a 3-4 pound chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook breast side-down for 10 minutes until charred and then flip and cook another 30 minutes, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Once you've mastered your chicken, try spatchcocking other birds, such as guinea hens and Cornish game hens, and grill them as well.

How To Spatchcock A Chicken
Flip chicken so it is breast-side down, exposing the backbone.Matt Taylor-Gross
How To Spatchcock A Chicken
With kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone.Matt Taylor-Gross
How To Spatchcock A Chicken
Cut along the other side of the backbone, removing it completely.Matt Taylor-Gross
How To Spatchcock A Chicken
Flip the chicken over, so the breast, legs, and thighs all face up.Matt Taylor-Gross
How To Spatchcock A Chicken
Using the palm of your hand, flatten the breast so the chicken is even in thickness.Matt Taylor-Gross
How To Spatchcock A Chicken
Your chicken is now ready to grill or roast.Matt Taylor-Gross