How to Spatchcock a Chicken at Home

A few quick cuts to your chicken can help speed your cooking time for the most delicious bird ever.

Spatchcock Chicken - how to spatchcock a chicken steps
Photo: LauriPatterson

Cooking a whole chicken for dinner seems like a great idea—until you have to run your oven for a couple of hours during a heat wave, or you get home late and are hoping to eat dinner sometime before midnight. You could carve the chicken down to individual pieces to help speed up the cooking time, but spatchcocking a chicken is even easier—and involves a lot less handling of raw chicken meat.

What Is Spatchcocking?

Spatchcocking involves cutting out the chicken's spine and pressing down on the breast bone to flatten the chicken. Flattening it exposes more of the chicken's surface to the oven or grill heat, which is what allows it to cook faster and give you that deliciously crisp chicken skin.

The spatchcocking method cuts your cooking time immensely. (You can sometimes get it from the fridge to your dinner plate in about a half hour.) Spatchcocking also keeps the meat juicy and lets the skin get extra crispy for the most appetizing at-home chicken ever.

If you want to spatchcock your chicken for the grill or roasting, all you'll need to grab are a good, sharp pair of kitchen shears, a cutting board, and the steps below to get your chicken into shape.


  1. Place a whole chicken on a cutting surface with the backbone and the tops of the wings facing up and the breast resting on the work surface.
  2. Feel for the spine beneath the skin, and use your kitchen shears to start cutting along the edge of the backbone, from the legs toward the neck.
  3. Repeat the cuts along the other side of the chicken's backbone, and peel the spine away, leaving the chicken's internal cavity exposed. If you feel like making stock, you can save the backbone to add flavor to it.
  4. Flip the spatchcocked chicken over and press it against the breastbone in the center of the bird. You'll find that it's easy to flatten the chicken and spread out the legs.
  5. Decide how to season or marinate your chicken (lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper are a classic combo), and grill, roast, or bake it to perfection—about one hour and five minutes at 400 degrees F.
  6. Check that the chicken is 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer to make sure it's fully cooked.

Go ahead and get over your fear of butchering your bird. You may find that the spatchcocking technique works beautifully with any poultry you plan to serve—including your Thanksgiving turkey.

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