Why Spatchcocking a Chicken is Easier Than it Sounds (Really!)

Spatch-what? Spatchcocking is the fastest and easiest way to roast a chicken.

Lisa Cericola
Garlicky Roasted Spatchcock Chicken
Alison Miksch

Spatchcocking sounds like a lawn game played with tiny paddles, but it’s actually a brilliant cooking technique. Also called butterflying, spatchcocking is a fast and simple way to roast a chicken (or any kind of poultry). All you have to do is remove the bird’s backbone, then press the chicken flat with your hands. Seriously, it’s easier than you think. We promise! You can use a sharp chef’s knife to remove the backbone, but kitchen shears make this job even easier.

Here are three reasons why spatchcocked chicken is so great:

Cooks Faster
A whole chicken typically takes over an hour to cook, which can be challenging to tackle during a dinnertime crunch. But when you remove the bird’s backbone and flatten it out, you cut the cooking time down to 40 to 45 minutes (cooking times vary depending on the size of your chicken). This makes roasted chicken doable on busy weeknights.

Cooks More Evenly
No more dry, overcooked white meat and undercooked dark meat. Because the chicken is flat, the legs are exposed to more heat and cook thoroughly, while the breasts stay juicy. No flipping required! Spatchcocking also ensures that you’ll get crisp, golden skin, arguably the best part of a roasted chicken.

Meat Stays On the Bone
Chicken that is cooked on the bone is more flavorful than boneless chicken, but it can take longer to cook—unless you’re spatchcocking.

Easier to Serve
When your chicken is done cooking and ready to serve, you don’t have to struggle to carve it. Because the chicken is flat, it’s very simple to separate the wings, breasts, and legs–especially if you use kitchen shears.

Convinced yet? Follow these 3 easy steps:

1. Place a whole chicken breast-side down on a cutting board.

2. Starting at the thigh end, cut along one side of the backbone with kitchen shears. Repeat on the other side to remove the backbone. Freeze and reserve for stock, if desired.

3. Flip the chicken over so that it’s cut-side down. Then firmly press on the breastbone with your hands to flatten it.

That's it, and now you’re ready to roast in a cast iron skillet or on sheet pan. Surround your chicken with vegetables, drizzle everything with olive oil, and get ready for your new favorite one-pan dinner.